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Housing Solutions

Making the Pieces Fit
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As Tahoe delves into a rabid housing crisis, the real question is: What solutions can we tap into to solve this issue? There are myriad options being explored by the community at large. The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, which is spearheading a regional housing needs assessment, just wrapped up a series of housing forums aimed at tackling solutions to this multi-pronged topic.

“What strikes me is there is no single solution,” said Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook. “We have to pursue them all.”

Indeed, there are several options to explore in solving the #TahoeHousingCrisis, including regulatory approaches, tapping into local and regional agencies, a plethora of funding strategies, alternative housing, and even how we as a community look at this issue. While the solutions may not be clear, it is imperative that we get creative to harbor viable, alternative solutions to tackle the housing behemoth. Sustainable solutions will require passionate and involved community members willing to try anything.

“The success of this issue is going to hinge on the community commitment to solving this issue,” said Aaron Nousaine, senior associate for BAE Urban Economics, which is working on the Truckee North Tahoe Regional Housing Study. “We need to build support around solutions.”

Sara Schrichte, project manager for the Truckee North Tahoe Regional Housing Study, echoed those sentiments, pointing to the difficulty of this discussion. With two counties, an incorporated town, several unincorporated areas, and 17 special districts all within the region trying to tackle this one issue, it is imperative everyone is on the same page.

“This is the hardest part for us,” Schrichte said of coming up with solutions. “We are a neutral conveyor. Along the way we have learned a lot, but we are not the experts. It is difficult and awkward to speak on behalf of the jurisdictions. We are a bit outside our comfort zone.”

Moonshine Ink has taken these conversations to outline possible solutions to this issue. However, these are not the only potential outcomes. While the solutions may not be clear, it is certain that it will take multiple pieces to solve this housing puzzle.


Cultural Shift

It really is the culture of a community that drives changes in affordable housing. Communities need to be willing to be flexible to change what is already in place and get behind new policies. Aspen has some of the most onerous development standards — including housing mitigation for new construction and deed restricted units — but the community has backed the regulations and is committed to fixing its own housing crisis, according to Aaron Nousaine, senior associate for BAE Urban Economics.

“It is about a commitment to what you are willing to do to make sure people have accessible and affordable housing,” Nousaine said.

To fix a complicated situation like housing takes fierce support from the community, and perhaps Tahoe/Truckee can take a page from Aspen’s own housing crisis. In the early 1980s, Aspen’s two housing authorities combined to form the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority, with the goal of better coordinating affordable and workforce housing policies. What emerged was a successful housing authority and, from 2008 to 2012, Aspen’s average annual tax revenue for its housing program was $7 million. Although Aspen has some of the most expensive real estate in the nation, it also boasts having among the highest rates of homes that are occupied by local residents year-round, according to Aspen Journalism.

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Reader comments so far...

HighlyTurbid | Citizen of Planet Earth
It's not a housing crisis, it's a greed crisis. C'mon.

Sapere aude | Homewood
Last week I received a postcard from a local realty company that was mailed to everyone at the Homewood post office. The pitch was how to "secure your investment in your second home" by using it as a vacation rental. Apparently this is a good idea to many in my neighborhood because it gets like a hotel district at peak times. Using the available housing stock like hotels negatively impacts my neighborhood, reduces units that might otherwise be available for long-term rentals, and is patently unfair to potential hotel projects that must pay multiple thousands for the right to offer short-term overnight accommodations. Placer County should enforce TRPA rules about this and our housing crisis would be eased.

Cookie | Donner Lake
Search VRBO of Truckee alone and you get almost 2,300 returns. That's just one company in that business, so it would be interesting to know the total number of weekend house rentals available in the area. Either the second home owner doesn't need the income for the unoccupied property and it's empty most of the year or they do and it's a VRBO. Why not have a VRBO fee to fund some of these housing crisis mitigation plans?

Hankskool | Tahoe City
All I can say is that I hope that the proprietors of the vacation rentals and Airbnb have to pay the same draconian nightly resort fees that the motels and hotels have to. Seems fair. On the other hand, what difference does it make? The entire basin's economy is being converted into a six month annual orgy, with no completion date ever, of heavy road construction and is losing its aesthetic appeal because of this single one factor anyway. I've lived in manufacturing towns with a lighter footprint than this perpetual heavy construction mess, greenwash it however you may. Lake Tahoe is now owned and operated by Caltrans, for Caltrans, and it's metastasizing army of construction contractors. Give it a little time and it will look like Gary , Indiana did in the 70's Yuck.

HighlyTurbid | 200 feet down
All Tahoe is a form of an outdoor Disneyland for the rich and people who do not live here, a playground. Go look at all the cigarette butts on the beaches and ask if they care about the lake? Agreed on your comment re:Caltrans--that Caltrans does what it does at the height of the tourist season is nothing less than insane or passive-aggressive at best. The place is crazy. Completely crazy and it will never serve the locals because it never has. What may get some attention is when the

Hankskool | Tahoe City
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November 9, 2017