Dollar Hill land deal could mean achievable housing for North Lake Tahoe residents and employees

Published on July 25, 2018

An 11-acre plot near Dollar Hill could become home to a new achievable housing development with the county Board of Supervisors today unanimously approving the terms of a $3.6 million deal to buy the land.
Dollar Hill offers an ideal site for achievable housing, with easy access to TART bus routes, schools, North Lake Tahoe’s downtown centers of Tahoe City and Kings Beach and the Dollar Hill Trail.
“There is no question in anyone’s mind that without having adequate housing for our community, none of us will be able to have businesses here,” said District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, acknowledging concerns expressed by several business owners that the housing crisis is hurting their ability to hire and retain employees. “This piece of property is perfect for the kind of achievable, local housing we envision.”
The property, located on North Lake Boulevard just northeast of Tahoe City, was previously approved for a mixed-use housing and retail development and retains its development rights for residential and commercial use. Its expired permit approved 128 housing units - 78 affordable apartments for seniors and 50 market-rate units - as well as 4,800 square feet for commercial use.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has also designated it a ‘preferred affordable housing area,’ which could make it eligible for more units than zoning density would otherwise allow.
Through recent community meetings around spending priorities for local transient occupancy tax revenues and in Mountain Housing Council workshops, residents have continued to share that the lack of achievable housing is a top concern.
A recent study by Beacon Economics commissioned by the county’s Economic Development Office showed that while local housing prices are increasing at a rate slightly lower than elsewhere in California, median local wages are actually decreasing, worsening the problem.
Historically, housing policies and discussion in eastern Placer County have focused on the need to provide workforce housing to accommodate the many service workers supporting its tourism-driven economy. Regional housing experts have shifted to discussing the housing crisis in terms of local, achievable housing to better reflect the current community needs not just for income-restricted affordable housing, but for a housing stock that accommodates the budgets of people at all income levels. That includes those who were once considered middle class, but are currently unable to afford to rent or purchase in the communities they work, like teachers, firefighters, professionals and tourism industry managers.
Under the terms approved today the county would pay a $50,000 refundable deposit, with a 120-day investigation period to explore the feasibility of a workforce housing project, find a housing developer to build it and secure funding for the land purchase. The county may exercise up to three three-month extensions to complete its investigations, with an additional $20,000 deposit for each. All deposits would be applied to the final sale price if the county buys the land.
Funding for the purchase could come from a variety of sources including the Placer County Housing Trust Fund, transient occupancy tax revenue and possibly local partner agencies and philanthropists. The Tahoe Truckee Airport District Board of Directors is expected to vote on a proposal to allocate $500,000 toward the purchase at their meeting tomorrow evening in Truckee, board president Rick Stephens reported.
With the board’s approval today, county staff will begin formal negotiations for a purchase and sale agreement with Nahas and search for a housing developer through a request for proposals process. Community stakeholders will be included on the selection panel to pick the developer. If the project moves forward it would require full environmental and public review as well as new land-use entitlements, and county staff will continue seeking community feedback throughout the process.
On Aug. 1 the county will host a community meeting in Tahoe City to seek input on all elements of the project, and will include that feedback in its request-for-proposals solicitation for developers to consider. The meeting will be held from 3-5 p.m. at the Tahoe City Public Utility District Board Room at 221 Fairway Drive.
There will also be a discussion of the project at the Aug. 9 North Tahoe Regional Municipal Advisory Council meeting.