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Pismo Beach City Council supports proposed senior housing project

Pismo Beach City Council supports proposed senior housing project

The Pismo Beach City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to move forward with negotiations with the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo (HASLO) regarding a proposed affordable mixed-use senior housing project.

The council’s vote directs City Manager Jim Lewis to negotiate a development agreement with HASLO for a property located at 2655 Shell Beach Road near Spyglass Drive. HASLO is asking the City of Pismo Beach to commit housing in-lieu fee funds to help finance the project. Occupancy will be limited to seniors making 60 percent or less than the area median income.

If approved, the project would include a 550-square-foot retail space, 21 affordable 1-bedroom senior apartments, one 2-bedroom manager’s unit, a 1,030-square-foot gathering space for residents, an office, and laundry facilities.

Some property managers give renters access to their security deposits to pay for essentials

Some property managers give renters access to their security deposits to pay for essentials

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – In these difficult times, people are stepping up to find ways to support the local community.

Mark Development alongside other affordable housing owners are making security deposits available to their tenants for a good reason: They hope the extra money will allow families to buy necessities during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Kauai Lihue Gardens Elderly center, Halawa View Apartments and Kewalo Apartments are among the privately owned low income rental properties where this is being tried.

Craig Watase is the president of Mark Development and realized this vital option was needed, in these times of need. “Our tenants are often friends an family relatives, or classmates,” said Watase. “I was looking into their eyes and seeing that these are hard times — people are out of work.” Mark Development will also defer the normal one month’s rent security deposit for three months on their Kauai County property Koa’e Makana Workforce Housing project. “Mayor Kawakami and Mayor Caldwell have been challenging us,” said Watase. “As a landlord I looked at the people we served which are low income housing tenants and at-least we can give put cash in peoples pockets, its their money were just holding it in trust as a security deposit as a landlord.”

City in driver’s seat on affordable housing projects after MOUs with TTD and developers approved

City in driver’s seat on affordable housing projects after MOUs with TTD and developers approved

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – After much discussion, the South Lake Tahoe City Council voted to sign Memos of Understanding (MOUs) with the Tahoe Transportation District (TTD) and two developers to build affordable housing in the community.

Pacific Development Group and United Housing Corporation have identified properties, some which have already been purchased, to build housing for those who would be displaced by the proposed US 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project which would move the highway through the Rocky Point neighborhood off Pioneer Trail.

TTD brought the MOU to the City to memorialize an agreement to work together in a constructive manner. The three-way partnership was not needed as TTD and the developers could have worked together without the City. Councilman Cody Bass sits on the TTD board and got his fellow board members to bring the City in on the MOU, a move both Mayor Brooke Laine and Councilman Devin Middlebrook thanked him for.

“The MOU is our wanting to work together for affordable housing,” said Bass. “This is just the first step. We have a responsibility to be involved. For us to not be involved it is irresponsible. This puts us in the driver’s seat.”

Councilwoman Tami Wallace said she could not be part of an MOU that mentioned the US50 project in its verbiage ad wanted it strickly to deal with housing. She went through several areas of the agreement that she wanted to be removed or changed. The word “shall” was replaced by “may” in many areas as well as the option of a five-day notice to exit the MOU by any party. Bass also asked that the word “binding” be removed.

“It is very clear to me that it does knock down one of the dominos for getting the Loop Road built,” said Wallace.

The domino she spoke of is the self-imposed requirement of TTD to build affordable replacement housing for those who would be displaced when the US50 rerouting project (Loop Road) is built.

PDG starting researching property to purchase for affordable housing in South Lake Tahoe two years ago, long before the new requirement for replacement housing resulting from the US50 project was added.

On Tuesday, PDG announced the completed purchase of the Zehren’s Nursery property at the corner of Highway 50 and Ski Run Boulevard as well as two lots behind in. They previously tried to buy the Heavenly Valley Lodge, which is behind the lots, but that fell through.

Pacific Development Group (PDG)has a history in South Lake Tahoe having recently acquired and rehabilitated Sierra Garden Apartments, and they developed Tahoe Pines, Sierra Vista, and Evergreen I and II. Their specialty if workforce and affordable housing though they do have some other types of properties.

Through their lawyer Lew Feldman, PDG would charge $500 to $800 a month for the deed-restricted units, depending on size. He said PDG and other affordable housing companies need partners and associated subsidies on those types of projects as they aren’t cost-effective to build from scratch.

Wallace said she’d approve the MOUs with the adjustments in verbiage if she got the rest of the Council to back her on getting the US 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project in front of the voters. She said the voters should be able to have a voice in the project.

Carl Hasty, the TTD district manager, spoke to Council, saying his agency’s goal is 200 units of transit-oriented development and not just required 76 units of replacement housing. He said with the portions of the MOU Wallace wanted to be removed were reflective and explained what all parties were trying to accomplish.

“Housing is the focus,” said Hasty. “The removal [of recitals in the MOU] doesn’t feel as transparent.”

The TTD board will have the MOUs to vote on during their September meeting.

Several members of the public spoke during public comment about the MOUs, and several asked that Middlebrook not be able to vote on anything to do with his employer TRPA or TTD. David Jinkens, Scott Ramirez, Jerry Goodman, and Lou Perini all asked he recuse himself just as Councilman Jason Collin does on Loop Road issues.

“The city takes conflict of interests very seriously,” said City Attorney Heather Stroud. She said they put in requests with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) for both Collin (who owns property in the development area) and Middlebrook.

The ruling on Collin hasn’t been received yet though he recuses himself on his own for now, and the City received the ruling on Middlebrook August 6. That said, per Government Code 1060, salaries are exempt from reasons for recusal. He could not vote on a contract that was directly with his department.

Another public comment came from Dominic Kichenside who lives on David Lane, adjacent to the proposed housing project. He said he and his neighbors don’t want affordable housing in this location as it would impact views, have a negative effect on their property values, and wanted them to look at lots with a lesser impact on neighborhoods.

South Lake Tahoe City Council to consider MOUs on Loop Road affordable housing efforts

South Lake Tahoe City Council to consider MOUs on Loop Road affordable housing efforts

City Council on Tuesday will consider two memorandums of understanding that staff say will give the city a more prominent role in the development of affordable housing related to the U.S. 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project.

More commonly known as the “Loop Road” project, the U.S. 50 highway realignment project involves the demolition of as many as 76 housing units in the neighborhood west of the Crescent V Shopping Center in South Lake Tahoe.

As a requirement of the project, the Tahoe Transportation District — the lead agency on the project — has agreed to construct 109 units of replacement housing. Of those 109 units, 102 will be deed restricted for low-income people, while the other seven will be deed restricted for moderate-income people. Council will consider entering into two separate MOUs with TTD and two different affordable housing developers.

The MOUs, according to a staff report, signal the city’s willingness to work cooperatively on the development of affordable housing units on five parcels controlled by one of the developers, Pacific Development Group, and on one parcel controlled by the other developer, United Housing Corporation.

It also indicates an intent to pursue further development of affordable housing units near the housing units that will be destroyed as a result of the Loop Road project. As staff explain, the MOUs mark the first step in the affordable housing process. “Formal decisions on project sites, scopes, designs, etc. will be included in formal development agreements, and will be presented for formal City Council consideration in the future after additional project planning progresses,” states the staff report. However, the MOUs are not free of controversy in the eyes of some residents who oppose the Loop Road project. They lobbied council to delay a decision on the memorandums at the Aug. 6 meeting.

Duane Wallace, husband of Councilor Tamara Wallace, and former Councilor Bruce Grego were among those who requested council delay a vote on the MOUs until a future meeting. The request was in order to give the public more time to evaluate the MOUs and to allow for more participation in the discussion.

Mayor Brooke Laine was absent from the Aug. 6 meeting for personal reasons. With Mayor Pro Tem Jason Collin recusing himself from Loop Road discussions because he owns property in the area, only three councilors were present to discuss the MOUs at the Aug. 6 meeting.

Councilor Wallace, prior to any public comment, requested the issue be delayed so that Laine could participate in the discussion.

Members of the public expressed concerns that the MOUs effectively represented the city’s endorsement of the controversial Loop Road project. The project proposes realigning U.S. 50 behind the casino corridor and the Heavenly Village area. The newly aligned highway would cut through the Rocky Point neighborhood to connect back into the current U.S. 50 alignment just west of where Pioneer Trail currently meets the highway.

The project, in various iterations, has been debated for decades. In 2018, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency approved environmental review documents for the project, which represented a major milestone.

But voters in the city have expressed a desire to have a greater say in the project. In 2016, nearly 60% of voters passed a ballot measure, Measure T, that would put any city decisions on the project to a vote of the people. The measure was struck down in court, and several appeal efforts were unsuccessful.

Despite those concerns about the MOUs, city attorney Heather Stroud told council at the Aug. 6 meeting that the agreements only pertain to the affordable housing aspect of the project. The MOUs do “not express the city’s approval or support for the project as a whole,” Stroud said. Councilor Cody Bass, who serves as the city representative on the Tahoe Transportation District board, made similar remarks, stating the intent was to give the city a say in the development of affordable housing — a critical issue in the city and around the lake. TTD almost approved MOUs with the development companies earlier this year, Bass said. At the request that the city be included, new MOUs involving the city were drafted. TTD was planning on considering the MOUs after council’s Aug. 6 meeting. However, TTD Director Carl Hasty told council he would recommend the board delay a vote until its September meeting so that council could continue the issue until its Aug. 20 meeting. Local attorney Lew Feldman, who was representing Pacific Development Group, said the group did not oppose continuing the conversation to Aug. 20.

Several community members, including Tahoe Chamber CEO Steve Teshara, spoke in support of the MOUs and affordable housing effort.

City Council is scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers at the Lake Tahoe Airport, 1901 Lisa Maloff Way.

Two affordable housing companies interested in South Lake Tahoe projects

Two affordable housing companies interested in South Lake Tahoe projects

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – A Memo of Understanding (MOU) to show the cooperative and constructive intent to build affordable housing between the City of South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe Transportation District, Pacific Development Group and United Housing Corporation was to be voted on during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

While everyone present recognized affordable housing would be beneficial to the community, the Council postponed the vote due to Mayor Brooke Laine’s absence due to a family emergency. Councilmember Tami Wallace asked for the delay due to the importance of the decision before them.

The MOU lays out the roles of each party to bring forward affordable housing projects associated with the US 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) permit on that project requires 109 new replacement units to be built prior to the rerouting of Highway 50 takes place.

Pacific Development Group has worked to obtain five parcels at the corner of Ski Run Boulevard and Pioneer Trail to build their project while United Housing Corporation has one lot near Raley’s at Stateline.

The proposed MOUs represent the first step in the process of pursuing the development of affordable housing units on parcels close to where people will be displaced from, per their input. Formal decisions on project sites, scopes, designs, etc. will be included in formal development agreements, and will be presented for formal City Council consideration in the future after additional project planning progresses.

There was a concern the delay in the Council vote would push the project out too far as the TTD board still has to sign their portion of the MOU. They met in Incline Village Friday and approved delay until their end of September meeting.

The Council is scheduled to have the MOU before them at their August 20 meeting.

There were a few speakers at Tuesday’s meeting spoke on the topic.

Lew Feldman, representing Pacific Development Group, said they understood Councilmember Wallace’s request to postpone the vote.

Steve Teshara, chief executive officer of the Tahoe Chamber, said while putting together an affordable housing project is timely and the sooner the Council can act on it the better, he understood the situation with Laine’s absence.

Bruce Grego said the MOU would be an impressive step for the City and all would like to see housing added to the community. He said the delay in a vote though would give everyone more time to review.

Duane Wallace of the South Tahoe Chamber questioned the motive behind the MOU and was suspicious of a hurry to get the housing elements moving forward. He said it gave the impression the City is behind the US50 project and reminded the Council that the previous group of electeds was voted out. He said he was concerned with displacing residents and the gentrification of neighborhoods.

Rebecca Bryson, a housing advocate and part of the Tahoe Prosperity Center, said she was in support of the two new proposed housing projects that would bring over 100 new units to South Lake Tahoe and was interested in hearing from the Council about their concerns.

The goal of TTD is to bring in 200 new units of affordable housing, according to their District Manager Carl Hasty.

Councilman Cody Bass said he wants the City to be in the driver’s seat and said the Council wants to support all housing projects, even those beyond the US50 project.