Rezoning discussed at city workshop |

Rezoning discussed at city workshop

Nearly 90 people turned out in South Lake Tahoe City Council Chambers Wednesday to discuss rezoning, which could lead to an affordable housing project for the disabled on Emerald Bay Road.

The city planning staff hosted a workshop to discuss rezoning of three acres of property along Highway 89 between 10th and 13th streets.

The property is zoned for single-family housing, but if approved for multiple family housing, developers could move ahead with a 19-unit, $2.7 million project.

“What makes Emerald Bay attractive to me is the smaller buildings, larger lots and rows of trees,” said Taylor Flynn, an area resident.

However, rezoning would need to be approved by the City Council and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency before the project could move forward.

Accessible Space Inc., one of the project developers, has purchased the land for $160,000. But even if the land is successfully rezoned, it could not move forward unless it is approved for both federal and state funds.

The Tahoe Area Coordinating Council for the Disabled is also a partner in the project.

“There are absolutely no guarantees, and it is a long process,” said Matt Crellin, director of real estate for Accessible Space Inc.

Some criticized the city’s involvement with private developers, but Lisa O’Daly, associate city planner, said the city was not trying to deceive anyone.

“I’ll admit the city does have an interest in the project,” she said. “I don’t think anyone is pretending we don’t have an interest.”

Others complained that Emerald Bay Road is not an area that should be rezoned.

“There are all sorts of pieces of property that could be rezoned for affordable or disabled housing,” said John Fellows, a business owner in the area.

But city officials contested that anyone could make an application for rezoning.

Some at the meeting criticized plans to develop the scenic corridor when there are dilapidated areas that could be redeveloped.

“It’s a budget issue, being able to afford to do that,” Crellin said.

If existing property was demolished, the city would be responsible to find housing for displaced tenants. Also, wider hallways and doorways, which are required for disabled tenants would make a renovation more expensive than demolition, an additional expense, Crellin said.

A 10-inch water line installed along Tenth street last fall puts the property in a more favorable position to be rezoned. Some criticized the city and said the water line was installed specifically for this affordable housing project.

But Mary Lou Mosbacher, a board member for the South Tahoe Public Utility District, said the water line was installed for fire protection.

“We have done it all over,” she said. “And we are going to increase our fire protection.” In the last nine years, the utility district has been installing water lines all over the city, she said.

City staff had participants write down arguments for and against the project and will use that information to make decisions, O’Daly said.

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