TRPA approves high-end project on site of mobile-home park
August 27, 2008
Struggling to make herself tall enough so her mouth would reach the microphone, 82-year-old Norma Thayer told the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Governing Board about something she thought never would happen.
“I thought I had found paradise for the rest of my life,” Thayer told the 15-member board Wednesday about her Stateline mobile home.
Thayer is a 31-year resident of the Tahoe Shores Mobile Home Park and one of more than 30 full-time residents of the park who will likely lose their homes after the approval of the Beach Club on Lake Tahoe project by the board.
The project includes the development of 143 condominium units on the mobile-home park site along the shore of Lake Tahoe in Stateline.
The Beach Club also boasts numerous environmental benefits, including a stormwater treatment system that will prevent approximately 11,000 pounds of sediment from reaching the lake annually, according to project backers.
While nearly every board member said it was unfortunate that residents would be displaced from their longtime homes as a result of the redevelopment project, many stated that the TRPA isn’t the venue to resolve the tenant-landlord disputes brought up during public comment.
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“The owner has a right. They have the right to make a change if they are compensating a tenant in line with (the Nevada Revised Statutes),” said board member Donna Ruthe. “There’s nothing we can do.”
The developer of the Beach Club – South Shore LLC – will pay the legally required compensation to current tenants and has offered $5,000 on top of the required sums to low-income residents of the park.
But the offer has been viewed with skepticism from current Tahoe Shores residents, several of whom are involved in lawsuits with the park owner over rent disputes.
Many of the mobile homes at the park are too old to move and will only require “paltry sums” in compensation under Nevada law, said Tahoe Shores resident Jan Christensen.
Many of the residents are elderly or on fixed incomes and have expressed dissatisfaction with the option of moving from a mobile home into the affordable-housing options generated by the beach club. The project will include 15 moderate-income housing units at a yet-undetermined site and 39 units of affordable-income housing at Aspen Grove Apartments.
“There’s not a huge appetite from people who have lived in mobile homes to move into apartments,” said Lew Feldman, attorney for South Shore LLC.
The future is unknown for the residents of the park, but almost all the residents left the meeting before the Governing Board unanimously approved the project, feeling such an approval was inevitable.
Because of the language in the TRPA compact, the agency is tasked with protecting the environment and not necessarily the humans wrapped up in it, said Governing Board member Jerome Waldie.
And while Waldie said the wording of the compact may need to be examined, he said the board’s hands were tied by the environmental benefits the Beach Club will provide.
“As we sit here today, our responsibility is to determine if this is environmentally sound,” he said. “And I think it is.”
Depending on the availability of financing for construction of the Beach Club, the park could close as soon as next spring, Feldman said.
The owners of the park are required to give tenants six months’ notice before closing it.