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TRPA will address housing

After an extra month to think about it, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency staff continues to claim Douglas and Washoe counties have not done their “fair share” to provide affordable housing inside the Lake Tahoe Basin.

An advisory board to TRPA this week will consider the proposal, and the bistate regulatory authority’s governing board is scheduled to hear the issue later this month.

If approved by the board, the action would mark the first time TRPA has not recognized the efforts of all the Tahoe jurisdictions and could hinder the development of housing subdivisions within the two counties.



TRPA decision makers were supposed to address the issue last month; however, officials from some jurisdictions said there was more information the agency should be considering.

New information, said TRPA planner Peter Eichar, led the agency to switch its stance on El Dorado County – formerly to be listed as not doing its share – but not the Nevada counties.




For five years, TRPA has annually addressed the issue of whether the basin’s communities have done their fair share to provide income-restricted affordable housing for ski resort and casino employees as well as other low-wage earners.

Douglas County leaders have criticized TRPA for not recognizing the jurisdiction’s efforts, claiming that it’s the bistate agency’s own regulations that make it difficult to put affordable housing into the basin.

“What would be acceptable to me and to Douglas County is to give us recognition we’re moving forward even with TRPA-imposed constraints,” said Don Miner, Douglas commissioner and the county’s appointee to TRPA’s governing board. “If they were able to remove those constraints, the entire basin would benefit.”

TRPA’s Eichar said the agency is working to make the process easier and plans workshops to address the perceived constraints.

“If there are truly problems in the code, we need to address them,” he said.

To show its success, Douglas leaders point to a 64-unit affordable housing project, approved this year, scheduled for the Kingsbury area. The county was key in getting hundreds of the thousands of dollars for its construction. However, construction won’t start until this year.

In contrast, TRPA points to South Lake Tahoe, likely the most successful of the Tahoe communities in providing income-restricted housing. South Lake Tahoe participated in two affordable housing projects in 1999: rehabilitation of the 70-unit Tahoe Valley Townhomes and the completion of the 45-unit Tahoe Senior Plaza.

In past years, TRPA has always recommended all the jurisdictions – Douglas, Washoe, Placer and El Dorado counties along with the city of South Lake Tahoe – as having demonstrated a commitment to assume their fair share. However, each year the criteria for meeting that commitment has become more difficult to meet.

If TRPA takes the action this month, it would prohibit housing subdivisions from being built in some Douglas and Washoe areas which are considered good for affordable housing, essentially keeping higher-priced subdivisions from taking limited building space away from possible future low-income housing sites.


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