Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why is this location being considered to address achievable housing needs?
A. Placer County has been engaged in developing housing and improving its own processes to facilitate housing opportunities for many years. Still, the Tahoe Basin is lacking in available housing compared to the rest of the region. Two recent studies demonstrate that existing residents and employees in the Tahoe-Truckee region and Placer County are struggling to live in the area. The studies identified an existing need of 1,560 housing units affordable for our workforce and families.
The North Tahoe-Truckee region has 474 below-market-rate housing units, but most are in Truckee and only 77 units are in the basin (in Kings Beach). Sawmill Heights near Northstar is the only other Eastern Placer County project, which is outside of the basin. Future housing projects have been proposed or are in process for Hopkins Village and Schaeffer’s Mill in Martis Valley, Squaw Valley, and Kings Beach, and Truckee, but Dollar Creek Crossing is the only project proposed for Tahoe City.
Q: What is “Achievable Housing”?
A: Chapter 90 of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Code of Ordinances defines achievable housing as single or multi-family residential development to be used exclusively as a residential dwelling by permanent residents with an income not in excess of the respective county’s achievable area median income percentage, which is a metric based upon the County’s median income (from $58,500 for a one-person household up to $83,600 for a four-person household ), the County’s median single or family housing price, and an individual’s buying power. Under the metric provided by the TRPA Code of Ordinances, achievable housing in Placer County would qualify as anything serving up to 215% of the area median income.
Q: Who would be eligible to live in achievable housing at Dollar Creek Crossing?
The county is seeking to serve local residents and workers earning a range of income levels as defined by TRPA code—30% to 215% of the area’s average median household income (which ranges from $58,500 for a one-person household up to $83,600 for a four-person household for Placer County*).
Based on that percentage, people in the following jobs would qualify for achievable housing, depending on their total household income:
- Entry-level TART bus driver ($34,000-$42,000/year)
- Safeway cashier ($29,120/year)
- Public Utility District seasonal worker ($41,600 - $47,840/year)
- Entry-level TTUSD teacher ($53,048/year)
- North Tahoe Fire Protection District firefighter (~$70,000/year)
*It is also important to note that after moving in, tenants can progress in their careers with raises or promotions and earn more than the entry-level amount. This allows for tenants to earn more and save while still holding their secure rents.
Q: What is “Missing Middle” housing?
A: “Missing middle” housing is a range of multi-unit or clustered housing types—compatible in scale with detached single-family homes—that help meet the growing demand for walkable urban living. Missing middle housing is generally not tied to price but is centered around design with the goal of being more affordable by design by building smaller, more dense housing products (e.g. townhomes, duplexes, triplexes, etc.). Dan Parolek, Owner of Opticos Design, is often credited for coining the term and developing the website www.missingmiddle.com. The county is considering missing middle housing for this property.
Q. What is Placer County doing to address the current housing crisis?
A. Realizing that there is no one answer to solve the housing crisis, Placer County is working on a variety of housing solutions, and has been collaborating with TRPA and the Mountain Housing Council to identify and implement housing improvements. Placer County and TRPA worked together to adopt the Tahoe Basin Area Plan in 2017, which provided a comprehensive set of regulations for the North Lake Tahoe Basin, and for the first time allowed secondary dwellings in the basin on properties smaller than one acre. Staff are beginning additional zoning-related updates to target housing solutions. The county began a county-wide Housing Code Amendment, which began environmental review in 2019 and will reduce regulatory constraints on housing. The county has also solicited TRPA feedback on a proposed set of housing-specific amendments for the Tahoe Basin Area Plan and is planning to move forward with those in late Winter 2020.
Additionally, Placer County is working to identify new funding sources and financial incentives related to housing. Placer County currently waives impact and permit fees for some second dwellings (a.k.a. secondary residences, granny flats, in-law quarters, accessory dwelling units), is adopting recent changes in state law that make it easier to build secondary dwellings beginning January 1, 2020, and is collaborating with the Mountain Housing Council to further incentivize and promote the development of these units. Placer County is working with the community to analyze potential options for utilizing transient occupancy tax and tourism business improvement district funds for housing projects and programs. Additionally, the county is working on a countywide housing financing plan and is formalizing in-lieu fee policies for development to provide for required affordable housing.
Q. What is this property’s status?
A. Placer County purchased the approximately 11-acre Nahas property near Tahoe City in October 2019, closing escrow on the purchase at a reduced sale price of $3.42 million. While the purchase represents a step forward in bringing more achievable housing to North Lake Tahoe, development concepts for the site are still in early stages and no project proposal has been brought forward for formal consideration or approval.
Q: What are the next steps for this property?
In 2018, Placer County released a request for proposals that asked development teams to respond with proposals for a housing development at this property site. Placer County received four proposals and chose to move forward with the highest ranked development team, Related CA/ Pacific. This development team, along with the county, has held multiple public meetings since August 2018 to solicit feedback on a preliminary development concept. Information on the previous meetings can be found here.
Based on the feedback received, several revised site concepts have been developed for public review. The additional development options for the site will be refined into one preferred project description that will be submitted to Placer County and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to go through the environmental review and permitting process.
Q. What is the allowed density for this site?
A. Density on this site was set by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) in its first Regional Plan for the Tahoe Basin in 1987 at 15 units to the acre and has not been increased since. Current zoning regulations for the site, which is zoned as Mixed-Use Neighborhood Dollar Hill (MUN-DH), can be found beginning on page 109 in the Tahoe Basin Area Plan Implementing Regulations.
Q. What are the requirements for evacuation plans?
A. The project is not far enough along in the planning process yet to have an identified evacuation plan. Public safety planning, including meeting state and local fire standards, are a top priority for Placer County and will be addressed and evaluated during environmental review once a draft project design and density concept has been completed. Additionally, the county has prepared a Sustainability Plan that includes options for addressing fire safety and evacuation planning efforts for new and existing neighborhoods. These standards will be considered as part of the project review.
Q. How will the proposals address parking?
A. The initial proposed concept suggested a reduced number of parking spaces. The project team has developed additional proposed project options that reduce the number of housing units and increase the parking spaces consistent with county and TRPA code requirements. Additionally, leases or purchase agreements that future residents sign will outline a parking policy and may also include a parking management plan. Oftentimes the development will contract with a towing company for non-compliant parking.
Q. Who could live there?
A. All housing projects must meet state and federal fair housing requirements. The affordable rental units would require a year lease. Dollar Creek Crossing would be reserved for permanent residents. This property is not intended to serve tourists or visiting seasonal workers.
Q. How would the property be managed?
The final developer team(s) will retain an experienced and professional property management company. Additionally, at least one unit will be designated as an on-site resident manager’s unit to address issues with tenants and/or neighbors. The property management company will complete a comprehensive, third-party screening of every applicant interested in renting an apartment. Like any rental project, if the lease is violated for any reason, the tenants will be notified and may be subject to lease termination and corrective action.
Q. How many residents could this property add to the area?
A. As discussed in Question 1 above, there is great need for housing for those who already live or work in the north Tahoe Basin Area. In many instances, local employees, such as those who work for nearby schools, public entities, businesses, and medical providers, must commute long distances to their jobs or in some cases overfill the area’s limited housing opportunities. The potential impact of any increase in population that is new to the area as a result of this proposed project will be analyzed and addressed in the public environmental review process. The number of people living in the Dollar Creek Crossing community will be based on an array of variables, including the types of units developed and the sources of funds used.
Q. How could this affect traffic?
A. While the project could add traffic to the local roadways and the state highway system, Placer County is committed to lessening the impact of this project and reducing traffic congestion overall. One way to achieve that is by locating the project in an area with a variety of transportation alternatives, such as public transit, walking, and bicycling facilities. The project is located adjacent to the Dollar Hill TART Bus Stop, which is served by 30-minute headways from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. in both the eastbound and westbound directions (Winter 2019 schedule). Additionally, Placer County recently instituted a 2-year pilot program to provide TART bus service free of charge for all riders. Local roadways and the Dollar Creek bike trail can connect residents with local schools, recreation opportunities, stores, and more. A project could also present an alternative to employees who currently commute to the area for work, which could help take more cars off the road.
While transportation impacts from the proposed project will be studied by the project team, Placer County will continue to work with our local and regional partners to provide more transportation options to residents, workers, and visitors.
Q. How does the county consider infrastructure impacts surrounding these types of proposals?
A. Once a draft project concept is completed and submitted for review, potential impacts to infrastructure will be studied as the project application moves through the mandated county and TRPA entitlement and environmental review process. That process will include multiple opportunities for public review and comment. The entitlement and environmental review process could also identify additional project requirements to serve as mitigation for any impacts identified as significant.
Q: When would the units be available for rent or purchase?
A: Building in the Tahoe Basin is complicated and takes time. The project team will continue working with the community on design and will submit land use applications to Placer County and TRPA in 2020. This timeline may enable the necessary Phase I financing to come into place by late 2021 with construction beginning in early 2022. We expect construction to take approximately 12 months. A potential Phase 2 and homeownership units would likely be completed within an additional 12 months.
Q: What kind of amenities could potential projects include?
A: Potential amenities could include a community building with a meeting space and fitness room, outdoor children play areas, and open space. Site planning will also consider internal bike/pedestrian connections into existing recreational trails as well as a proposed plaza area with benches, a drinking fountain, a bike repair station, and maps of the area.
*** This FAQ will continue to be updated as feedback and questions are received. Please direct all your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org .