Residents concerned about displacement |

Residents concerned about displacement

by Andy Bourelle

The proposal to raze a 187-unit apartment complex in Stateline is an unprecedented project, and it has many South Shore officials and residents concerned.

As part of a larger project being proposed, Lake Park Apartments on Kahle Drive is to be demolished in phases over the next two years.

“Demolition of a comparable number of housing units in a single project is without precedence in the Lake Tahoe region,” according to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s summary of the proposal.

The project consists of building a stormwater treatment system where the apartments are, a 138-unit time share in Round Hill and a 67-unit affordable housing apartment complex on Market Street, adjacent to Kingsbury Grade.

While not classified as affordable housing, the Lake Park Apartments provide homes for many low-income families.

“I don’t have enough money to move to another place,” said Ernesto Vazquez, who has lived at Lake Park Apartments for two years. “I’ve got five children, so I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The affordable housing complex is scheduled to be built to offset the lost rental units, but the new Lake Vista Apartments on Market Street will contain only 67 units, less than half of what Lake Park Apartments provides.

The city of South Lake Tahoe and Our Lady of Tahoe Catholic Church in Round Hill have expressed concerns to TRPA about the displaced residents’ ability to find suitable housing in Douglas County.

South Lake Tahoe is concerned that the displaced residents will move into its jurisdiction and impact the housing market and social services programs.

The church, whose property abuts where the new time share will be built, has a few concerns.

While the church is worried about its view being obscured and extra stormwater running onto its property, Father John Bain said: “Our biggest concern is the people who live in the Lake Park Apartments receive adequate housing. They don’t just tear down Lake Park Apartments, build 67 units and say, ‘Hey, folks, good luck.'”

Falcon Capital LLC, the company proposing the project, has done its best to address the concerns, according to Lew Feldman, representative of the company.

“We’ve really done everything we can and then some to address the displacement issue – and address it responsibly,” he said.

The Lake Park Apartments complex has only about three-fourths occupancy, and the average length of tenancy is about 11 months. Feldman said the proponent plans to demolish the building in phases over a two-year period, in order to minimize the impacts to the families. Falcon Capital also is working with the Nevada Rural Housing Authority to help the displaced residents.

Vazquez is one resident who hopes that works out.

“They say they’re going to help us, but I don’t know if that’s real or not,” he said. “They say they’re making new apartments, but there are only going to be 67 (units). I don’t know if that’s going to be enough … . I don’t know if I can get an apartment where they will let me have five children.”

Vazquez, who works at nearby Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, said it would be a lot of trouble to move over to the California side of the basin.

Another Lake Park Apartments resident, Cheryl Thomas, said she hopes she and her husband will be eligible for the new affordable housing complex. But Thomas, who has lived there since October 1998, isn’t too worried about it yet.

“I’ll stick it out until the end. I’ll start looking when it gets close to that time,” she said. “(We’ll move to the new apartment complex) if we’re eligible. It’s still close enough for my husband to walk to work (at the Horizon).”

Some residents, however, really don’t care what happens.

“This place will be better off if they tear it down,” said Sergio Rodriguez.

He moved in three months ago but sees it only as a transitional home.

“There are a lot of people here who have lived here a long time and have nowhere else to go,” he said. “But I don’t care. I just moved here.”

Douglas County currently has no recognized affordable housing units in the region.

“(The Lake Park Apartments are) not affordable housing, but it is home to several low-income families. To my knowledge, there is no rent-restricted, true affordable housing anywhere in Douglas County at the lake,” Feldman said. “This will be the first project, and it’s certainly something we can use more of in Douglas County.”

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