TRPA’s affordable housing issue may go away for a year |

TRPA’s affordable housing issue may go away for a year

After criticism by members of an advisory board last week, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency staff has changed its stance on an affordable housing proposal.

Douglas and Washoe counties should be grouped with the rest of the basin’s jurisdictions as having done their “fair share” to provide affordable housing at Tahoe, TRPA staff is recommending. That is a switch for the staff, whose members earlier were saying the two Nevada counties had not done enough.

If TRPA’s governing board agrees with staff at a meeting next week, a moratorium on building housing subdivisions in certain places at Tahoe will be lifted basin-wide, not just in California communities. The moratorium, which targets places considered as good affordable housing sites, has been in place since Jan. 1 after the TRPA Governing Board postponed its decision on the affordable housing issue.

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

For whatever area the fair-share finding is not made, housing subdivisions are to be prohibited from being built there. The action is supposed to keep higher-priced subdivisions from taking limited building space away from possible future low-income housing sites.

The board in previous years made the fair-share finding for all the jurisdictions: Douglas, Washoe, Placer and El Dorado counties along with the city of South Lake Tahoe. However, TRPA staff members have fielded criticism the past two months after recommending that Douglas and Washoe counties’ efforts not be recognized.

Some members of the TRPA Advisory Planning Commission, which makes recommendations to the governing board, criticized staffers last week for that.

The reason for the disagreement came because TRPA has no set standards for what creates the pass-fail line for providing affordable housing. It’s a subjective decision opponents said TRPA shouldn’t be making.

The advisors said the city and all the counties should be given credit for their work, and TRPA should address the issue again in December after more clearly defined rules are established.

TRPA staff isn’t going along with that recommendation entirely, saying it wants the agency to revisit the issue in April.

A working group has already been looking into ways to address affordable housing at Tahoe.

Gabby Barrett, TRPA’s chief of long-range planning, said the April deadline will help focus efforts and would be better than putting the next decision off a year.

“What they said about not having specific criteria, I think, was a fair criticism of us,” Barrett said. “So the staff has said, ‘OK, let’s go ahead and set up the criteria. We’ve set up a working group. I think that seems like a good place to ask what would be fair criteria.”

Don Miner, a Douglas County commissioner and member of TRPA’s governing board, has long been against the staff’s proposal. On Wednesday he said he was pleased Douglas County finally would be given some recognition; however, he didn’t feel April was a realistic deadline for the agency to meet.

“Once again, they don’t understand the scope of the problem,” Miner said. “To think you can get something like that done in 45 days isn’t adequately addressing the issue.

“I would like to see them be given direction to have it return in a year.”


What: TRPA meeting

When: Jan. 26, 9:30 a.m.

Where: North Tahoe Conference Center, 8318 North Lake Blvd., Kings Beach

Information: Call (775) 588-4547 or look on the Internet at

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