Developers plan workforce housing in downtown Truckee
October 12, 2018
TRUCKEE — The dirt lot on Jibboom Street, mainly used for public parking in the past, will likely be developed into workforce housing units.
Jibboom Street LLC, a development partnership between Truckee residents Sean Whelan and Kevin Sloane, is proposing to construct between 74 to 84 units, a majority of which would be rented exclusively to locals. They are still working with the town to establish a feasible plan for the area.
"We've been working pretty closely with the planning department trying to come up with a proposal that would best fit the needs of the community," said Whelan.
The town's existing workforce housing ordinance requires developers to designate 15 percent of a project toward affordable housing units. That would mean at least 12 of the Jibboom Street units would be restricted to individuals who qualify for affordable housing, if the project involved commercial buildings. Whelan said that they will "voluntarily build workforce housing even though we are not creating a workforce with our development."
The project would allocate 60 percent of the units to workforce housing and deed restrict those units to locals, meaning over 50 percent of their income has to be derived locally, while the other 40 percent would be sold. Of those units for sale Whelan said that some would inevitably sell to second homeowners. However, they are exploring options of payment assistance to locals who wish to purchase the units such as working with the Martis Fund to offer down payment assistance to qualified working families.
The Martis Fund and the Sierra Business Council have recently announced they are re-launching the program offering loans to homebuyers working in Placer County east of Donner Summit, or in the Town of Truckee, and seeking to buy homes in those areas.
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Whelan said that while this project is a step in the right direction the housing crisis cannot be solved by willing developers alone.
"What the town in my opinion is struggling with is moving beyond suburban mindset," he said. Whelan suggested the town look at rezoning sections for affordable housing use, increasing the density of housing downtown, and reevaluate the parking requirements.
"We understand this project is only a small step towards solving the housing problem, and we are hopeful others will follow," he said in a release.
Currently the developers are working on finalizing the plans including establishing the size of each unit and a parking plan, which they will have back to the town within 60 days. The town will then have a 30-day period to process the plan and suggest possible modifications. If the plan moves forward it will then go to the planning commission.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-550-2652.