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Advances made on the housing crisis, funding approved for Speedboat Beach improvements and more eastern Placer County news

October 24, 2017

Today’s Placer County Board of Supervisors meeting in Kings Beach was a busy one. In addition to discussion of how guest lodging taxes are collected and spent in eastern Placer County, detailed in a separate news release, today’s meeting included updates on a number of other projects of local interest.

Improvements for Speedboat Beach, the future of the Tahoe City firehouse, efforts to address local housing challenges and an update on the Cabin Creek biomass facility were also on the agenda.

Speedboat Beach improvements
The board approved $400,000 in park dedication fees and $100,000 for improvements to Speedboat Beach, located at the base of Harbor Avenue and Lake Streets in Kings Beach.

The funding will cover completion of planned restroom, signage, stairway and access improvements, in line with the input received from the community at a series of workshops.

Tahoe City fire station/Tahoe Community Center
Continuing an effort to reinvent the Tahoe City firehouse property vacated by the North Tahoe Fire District several years ago, the board voted to approve acquisition of the adjoining Tahoe Community Center building located at 380 North Lake Boulevard in Tahoe City for $1 from the Tahoe City Public Utilities District. Additionally, the board authorized a lease agreement with North Tahoe Arts Inc., which currently operates a gallery in the building.

The board also received an update from county staff on recent community outreach efforts to reimagine the opportunities for the properties through a series of public workshops. While the use of space is yet to be decided, staff plans to issue a request for information in November, soliciting ideas for site proposals, and will return to the board early next year with recommended next steps.

Achievable housing
On the issue of the pressing housing challenges in North Lake Tahoe, the board received an update on the county’s participation in the Mountain Housing Council. The council was created as an outcome of the Tahoe Truckee Regional Housing Needs Assessment in order to develop a regional housing agenda, create resident assistance programs and leverage land owned by public agencies. Placer County is a member organization of the council and is represented by District 5 Supervisor and Board Chair Jennifer Montgomery.

Since April 2017, the council and its sub-committees have worked in four key areas, including creative housing types, funding and finance, housing programs and mapping public lands.

Among key areas of progress, council partners have mapped public lands in the region that could be made available for family or workforce housing. With land a major cost of developing homes, providing public land toward such projects could be a strong incentive to build them. With the lands mapped, focus has shifted to evaluating their feasibility for development, or whether further regulatory action like zoning changes might be necessary to allow it.

Future goals and targets include policy development, increasing the number of people who both live and work in the area, unlocking existing residential and commercial structures for housing, increasing new units, generating additional revenue, rehabilitating existing substandard structures, and possibly tracking loss of seasonal and permanent rentals to short-term rentals being used for vacation purposes.

Council staff is hosting quarterly meetings with local developers, landowners and employers to discuss potential project concepts, projects, obstacles and challenges.

The council will host a public think tank Oct. 25 at the North Tahoe Events Center in Kings Beach to discuss employer solutions to the workforce housing shortage, including a panel discussion about how the housing crisis impacts the local economy.

Cabin Creek biomass facility
The board received an update on the proposed Cabin Creek biomass energy facility, a two-megawatt renewable energy project that would convert forest waste, or biomass, into electricity, which could then be sold.

While the project planning is nearly complete, the historically-low power market has hampered efforts to sell the electricity that would be created by the project, staff reported. County staff have investigated a viable option for selling the electricity by reducing the purchase price by subsidizing with public funds.

A grant with the U.S. Department of Energy is set to expire at the end of 2017. With $1.5 million in grant funds still to be used in facility construction, the county has entered into extension discussions with DOE and anticipates a decision by the end of October.

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