Second Homes In Tahoe Basin Force Out Local Workforce

As more wealthy Bay Area residents purchase second homes to vacation in the Tahoe basin, long-time residents and workers find themselves priced-out, moving to less expensive, rural Nevada and commuting long distances, or out of the area entirely.

"In the Lake Tahoe region, 4 out of 10 units are classified as vacation homes, according to Dean Runyan Associates and the U.S. Census Bureau. This is nearly four times greater than the national average, according to the National Association of Realtors."

"The National Association of Realtors discovered that second-home ownership-investment property is likely to double within the next 10 to 20 years as the crush of Baby Boomers passes through their peak earning years," said Deb Howard, who owns a real estate company in South Lake Tahoe and is on the Resort Committee for the association."

The result is that housing costs have skyrocked in Tahoe and nearby Truckee.

"The median home price in South Lake Tahoe as of June 1 was $499,000. It was $189,000 in 2000. The median price in 2005 in Truckee was $685,000. "

Lake Tahoe borders Nevada, and regional planning is done by the bi-state Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, TRPA, formed by Congress in 1969.

"TRPA is creating a 20-year blueprint, although it probably won't take effect until 2009 despite it being called Pathway 2007.

TRPA contends the 10 building code amendments made in the past five years encourage affordable housing. But agencies trying to build at the lake say the two-story height limitation and density limits make it cost-prohibitive."

"Julie Regan, a TRPA spokeswoman, said social issues are a concern. She believes Pathway 2007 will address the needs of those who want to build affordable housing. But she emphasized that affordable housing is an issue that the private and public sectors need to solve together, adding that perhaps a regional housing authority not under the auspices of TRPA should be created."

While growth is stagnant in South Lake Tahoe, Lyon County in rural Nevada is booming. "School enrollment has increased about 5 percent per year for the past 10 years. An elementary school will open in 2007-08 -- all because people are moving farther east where houses are cheaper."

Full Story: LEAVING LAKE TAHOE - As the region's housing costs keep skyrocketing, more middle-class workers are hitting the road


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