Stateline affordable housing project called ‘bait and switch’ |

Stateline affordable housing project called ‘bait and switch’

Andrew Pridgen

KINGS BEACH – The issue of building affordable housing units at Stateline was resurrected at Wednesday’s Tahoe Regional Planning Agency governing board meeting.

At its last meeting the governing board rejected a proposal to amend the Stateline/Ski Run community plan to make room for new development – which is slated to include affordable housing.

Governing board member Jim Galloway, who is also a Washoe County Commissioner, employed a little-used loophole to bring the issue back to the table.

In spite of three dissenting governing board members, the decision to re-consider the proposal was made. Some were not so pleased.

Sierra Club chairman Michael Donahoe said affordable housing has become a “ruse” in the basin to push development through that otherwise may not be considered.

“What we’re seeing now is the use of affordable housing as a carrot to bait and switch and then when it all comes down you’re not getting the carrot you were promised,” Donahoe said. “Affordable housing (in the basin) has become something of a joke. If your (household take-home) is under $6,700 per month in Douglas County, you can qualify.”

Galloway disagreed, noting earlier that the proposed units “would be at the cost that a teacher or a police (officer) could afford.”

Donahoe cited several other developments that were passed on the precedent that they would include affordable housing units but have not – including a similar project by the same applicant, Falcon Capital.

“On March 24, 1999, the TRPA governing board approved a Falcon Capital proposal that allowed Falcon Capital to build some high-end time shares …. TRPA made it a condition of the permit that Falcon Capital build 138 affordable units in the lake portion of Douglas County,” Donahoe said. “The permit was good for three years, so by my reckoning all of the affordable units should have been provided by March 24, 2006.”

Contrary to Donahoe’s opinion, Lew Feldman, representing Falcon Capital at last month’s meeting, noted a pattern in such projects being blocked by the agency.

Feldman said the company purchased nine acres at the South Shore to build 70 affordable housing units, but because of protest from environmental groups about the urban boundary, the property was developed as a single-family estate.

When asked why the item should be up for reconsideration, Galloway Wednesday said new information had come to light.

“It makes me uncomfortable reconsidering the matter because of new information or because we have a more full (board),” said board member Norma Santiago, who noted affordable housing issues could be better addressed once the Pathway 2007 20-year basin plan is released. “This (would be) confusing in terms of (voting) whenever we do or do not have enough information.

Because of this Santiago joined Julie Motamedi and Jerry Waldie in voting “no” for the project’s reconsideration.

The motion did pass and the board will reconsider making an amendment to the Stateline community plan to allow for more development during October’s meeting.

“I think whether or not this is reconsidered we definitely did go that next step to have the hearings,” Galloway said.

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