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Locals say life in Tahoe is ‘on the wrong track’

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KTXL) — Residents of the Lake Tahoe area are concerned about a variety of factors that could affect their quality of life, a survey has found.

The Tahoe Prosperity Center recently published a 35 page report which details the results of the survey of the region’s community. The survey was conducted in January 2022 to gather residents’ views on living and working in and around Tahoe. About 1,799 people were interviewed for the report.

According to the report, 63% of residents said life in the Tahoe area is “on the wrong track.” The survey showed that only one in five respondents thought the opposite.

The majority of residents said lack of affordable housing, traffic congestion, vacation rentals/second homes for visitors, wildfires and smoke are some of the biggest threats to the Tahoe area. Residents also pointed to “disrespectful attitudes” from tourists and a lack of economic diversity in the survey.

Aside from wildfires and smoke, 73% of residents think the lack of housing for workers is the biggest threat to the quality of life in the area.

“The findings of this new report unsurprisingly identify the same housing, traffic and economic disparity issues that Tahoe residents have struggled with and discussed for years,” said Heidi Hill Drum. , CEO of the Tahoe Prosperity Center, in the report. “What is surprising is that updated census data indicates that our economic and housing challenges are persistent and becoming more urgent.”

The report also states that 24% of people struggle to make ends meet. These respondents said they either had to work two or more jobs or could not afford to stay in Tahoe and planned to leave.

The remaining 76% said they could live in “reasonable comfort” in the area. Among this majority, some of them work for a Tahoe-based employer, do not work, or are self-employed.

One of the main findings of the report is that the average annual income in the Tahoe area was $53,165 in 2020. The report multiplied this average by three, concluding that someone earning the median income in the area could s afford a house for $159,485 and a couple earning that amount could afford a house for $318,990.

However, the report says there are currently no listings for Tahoe Basin homes at this price. According to the report, the average price of a home in Tahoe in 2021 is $950,000. This median price far exceeds the surrounding county averages.

Using data from Chase International, the report says the average Tahoe home price was $345,000 in 2012, making the 2021 figure a 10-year increase of $605,000.

As for the average price of a condo in Tahoe, data from Chase International indicates that the 2021 median is $713,000, an increase of $455,000 since 2012.

Despite residents’ concerns, the majority agreed that the area’s “natural beauty,” outdoor lifestyle, and recreation are factors they see as making Tahoe a place to be. good living. A small percentage of residents said Tahoe’s sense of community, education, job opportunities, social/cultural opportunities, and resorts are other desirable factors.

“In addition to agreeing on the threats, this survey also shows that residents are united on what makes Tahoe a great place to live,” said Chris McNamara, Co-President of Private Sector, Envision Tahoe Catalyst, in the report. “We love the lake, our outdoor lifestyle, our hobbies and our community connections, and we solve problems together. These are excellent building blocks for creating a shared vision of our future.

In the survey, residents were asked how they would prioritize efforts to maintain or improve the quality of life in the Tahoe area. They were asked to mark their priorities as ‘very high’, ‘high’, ‘fairly high’, ‘medium’ or ‘low priority’.

According to the report, 79% of respondents said housing should be a “very high” or “high” priority. Another top priority the majority agreed on is to impose public access fees on tourists to pay for investments in Tahoe’s environment, transportation and community services.

A strong majority of residents said a ‘very high’ or ‘high’ priority should be given to reducing traffic congestion, imposing restrictions on short-term rentals and second homes for visitors , investing in education, expanding family services and improving broadband/cellular infrastructure. .