Tahoe housing crunch taking toll on local businesses

Cave Rock Lake Tahoe.jpg

From the scenic beauty to the abundant outdoor recreation, there are many reasons people want to call Tahoe and Truckee home. But, living in the communities that surround the lake comes at cost.

"Boy the limit now is, can you find a place to live?" said Dave Wilderotter, owner of Tahoe Dave's Ski & Board.

During the winter Wilderotter employs about 100 people. He says his employees were having trouble finding a place to live, so he purchased a trailer park to provide them with home to rent.

"Hopefully this becomes a mini home community," said Wilderotter during an interview at the trailer park. He says he rents to his employees at a discounted rate.

When he purchased the trailer park, people were already living there. As they move out, he moves in a new trailer that looks like a mini home.

He hopes eventually the entire trailer park will look like a small community of tiny living.

"It costs me a little. But, hey, I have employees," said Wilderotter. "That's the most important thing."

The lack of affordable and available housing in Tahoe and Truckee is affecting businesses - large and small.

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is looking to hire about 2,600 employees for the winter season. But, they're having a hard time hanging on to some new hires because of the housing situation.

"They'll get a job offer for the upcoming winter and they turn it down because they either can't find it or they can't afford it," said Kerry Paden who works in Human Resources at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.

The ski destination has resorted to offering homeowners a $350 gift card if they rent their home to a Squaw employee.

The housing crisis goes beyond the winter season.

"For us it's not just a seasonal problem. It's pretty much, there's a housing crunch in all seasons," said Truckee Town Manger Jeff Loux.

A recent report from Tahoe based real estate company, Chase International, says the median home price in Tahoe is more than $679,000. The Mountain Housing Council, which is a group of local leaders working to tackle the housing crisis, reports the mean cost to rent a three bedroom home in Truckee is $2600.

Many of the homes that are already built in the Tahoe area are not available for the local workers.

"65 percent of our homes sit vacant more than 50 percent of the time," said Stacy Caldwell who is with the Mountain Housing Council.

The occupancy is so low because of these are second homes or vacation homes.

The housing crisis has pushed local leaders to start the Mountain Housing Council to manage the crisis.

"We need 12,000 more units," said Caldwell. "It's significant."

Over the next three years, the council will look at different housing solutions, including tiny homes, accessory dwelling units and co-living developments.

Their original goal was to increase the housing inventory by 300 unites. On year in, they've already exceeded their goal.

But for small business owners, change can't come soon enough. They want the next generation to be able to afford to call Tahoe home and build a family and lives here.

"Who is going to own those restaurants tomorrow?" said Wilderotter. "Who are going to be the kids that play high school football? Who are going to be the that we all know and love at the parks? What is a community if you don't have children?

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