Photograph of the front façade of a three-story building above ground-level parking. A large stairway leads up to a porch that extends across most of the façade. Three gables accentuate the roof line. Small trees and shrubs line short stone walls in front of the building. Photograph taken from street level of a one-story wooden house with a metal roof. A lawnmower, grill, trashcan, and two bicycles, are scattered near the entrance to the house. Elsewhere on the lot are a trashcan and an overturned wooden boat. Photograph of a dilapidated, one-story wooden building. Portions of its walls are covered with plywood panels. Sections of the pyramidal roof are missing, covered by torn tarps. Photograph of a one-and-one-half-story house with wood siding and a pitched roof covered in wooden shingles. A satellite photograph of Kings Beach, California, showing the location of each of the five scattered sites in the Kings Beach Housing Now development labeled with the name of the site: Deer, Trout, Fox, Brook, and Chipmunk. Photograph of a corner of a community room with upholstered chairs arranged around a circular coffee table. Photograph of the front façade of a three-story building with wood siding. The central portion of the façade extending in front of the rest of the façade is capped with a roof pitched toward the front; a dormer with three windows has a similarly pitched roof. Gables mark the two corner sections of the façade. Photograph of the front façade of a two-story, front-gabled building with wood siding. The front door is accessible from the parking area in front of the house.

 

Home >Case Studies >Kings Beach, California: Affordable Green Housing for Service Industry Workers

 

Kings Beach, California: Affordable Green Housing for Service Industry Workers

 

Kings Beach Housing Now provides 77 energy-efficient apartments for low-income recreation and hospitality industry workers in a popular vacation area. The development, consisting of nine buildings on five sites totaling 3.5 acres, replaces dilapidated housing while adhering to stringent requirements for water quality, scenic views, and tree cover in the Lake Tahoe region. The balancing of objectives earned Kings Beach Housing Now a 2011 Best in the Basin Award from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA). Because of its reliance on community input to provide that balance, the development also won the 2014 American Institute of Architects/HUD Secretary’s Award for Community-Informed Design.

Background and Context

Located on the northern shore of Lake Tahoe in Placer County, California, at the state border with Nevada, Kings Beach dates from the 1920s, when it was known as a summer campsite destination. Over time, it grew into a year-round community, reaching a population of 3,435 according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008–2012 estimate. Many residents work in seasonal jobs for the tourism industry and cannot afford the cost of housing in the Lake Tahoe region, which also attracts wealthy retirees and people wanting second homes in a stunning natural setting.

The former campsites became tiny lots for cabins, travel trailers, and small motels, and by the 1980s, the community’s backstreets had deteriorated significantly. As community member Theresa May Duggan explains, the makeshift residential areas became “dangerous, overcrowded, often crime ridden.” Living spaces were often small, sometimes no bigger than 200 square feet, and lacked kitchens, modern electrical service, and insulation to protect against the winter cold. To save money, up to six people might share a room, notes Jeff Cowen, public information officer for TRPA. Roads, water supply, sanitary sewers, and drainage required major upgrades for year-round residents. Because affordable housing near the lake was in such poor condition, some workers chose to commute from Reno, Nevada — a round trip of 88 miles.

This need for affordable year-round housing in good condition, which occurs in many parts of the Lake Tahoe Basin, generated six unsuccessful attempts to build affordable housing in the region. Kings Beach Housing Now broke this unfortunate trend, in part by engaging the community to create a design that carefully balances the need for affordable housing with the need to protect the Tahoe region’s natural resources.

Source:

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research. 2014. “Housing and Community Design Awards.” Accessed 24 June 2014; Welsh Hagen Associates. 2010. “Kings Beach Housing Now, Kings Beach, California”; Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. n.d. “Thresholds.” Accessed 18 July 2014.

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Source:

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. n.d. “Past Best in the Basin Award Winners.” Accessed 16 July 2014; Domus Development. n.d. “Live Here — Properties: Kings Beach Housing Now.” Accessed 24 June 2014.

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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research. 2014. “Housing and Community Design Awards.” Accessed 24 June 2014.

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Interview with Theresa Duggan, Kings Beach community advocate, 15 July 2014.

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Development and Community Input

Domus Development, a private developer of affordable housing, worked closely with the Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe, a group dedicated to bringing more workforce housing to the area, and other local organizations to perform an assessment of housing needs and solicit input from the community. The housing needs assessment was prepared in September 2007 to gather data about housing conditions in Kings Beach. A survey of 323 area residents conducted as part of the assessment revealed that 40 percent lived in overcrowded conditions and over two-thirds spent more than 30 percent of their household income on housing expenses. Domus and its partner agencies also held more than 30 bilingual community meetings to inform the project’s planning and design. Community members expressed concerns about the negative effects of increasing height and density, including the visual impact of larger buildings.

The entitlement process in Kings Beach requires developers to comply with rules on landscaping; building color, texture, and materials; energy efficiency; and other aspects of design. “It’s not easy in the Tahoe Basin; we’re surrounded by some pretty amazing landscape and we work very hard to protect it,” notes Duggan. In addition, Domus had to comply with the overlapping and sometimes contradictory regulations of both Placer County and TRPA. According to Domus’s president, Meea Kang, “The TRPA community plan was very different than Placer County’s. We had to amend two sets of codes and then go through the approval process each time.” The developer worked with the county to update its zoning ordinance and with TRPA to revise the code of ordinances. Domus worked with Placer County to relax density, height, and parking requirements to make the project feasible. The developer also helped TRPA revise its ordinances to more effectively balance increased density and environmental protection.

Source:

U.S. Census Bureau. “Selected Housing Characteristics,” 2008–2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, American FactFinder. Accessed 22 July 2014.

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Source:

Interview with Jeff Cohen, public information officer of Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, 3 June 2014; Domus Development, n.d. “Live Here — Properties: Kings Beach Housing Now.” Accessed 24 June 2014.

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Source:

Interview with Theresa Duggan, Kings Beach community advocate, 15 July 2014.

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Source:

Interview with Meea Kang, president of Domus Development, 8 July 2014; Domus Development, n.d. “Live Here — Properties: Kings Beach Housing Now.” Accessed 24 June 2014.

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Source:

Interview with Jeff Cowen, public information officer of Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, 3 June 2014.

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Design and Program

The largest of the five sites that make up Kings Beach Housing Now contains 40 units: 6 studios, 23 one-bedroom units, and 11 three-bedroom units, as well as two community rooms for residents of all the sites. The next two largest sites have 10 one-bedroom and 20 three-bedroom units. The other two sites have 1 one-bedroom, 2 two-bedroom, and 4 three-bedroom units. All the units are rented to households earning between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income, or between $22,830 and $45,660 for a family of four.

In one of the community rooms on the largest site, within walking distance of the other four, area nonprofits offer residents classes in health, parenting, skill building, and cooking. All of the sites are also within walking distance of job centers, grocery stores, and a Tahoe Area Regional Transit bus stop, for which residents receive monthly passes.

To meet community concerns, the project was designed with height setbacks on each parcel and architectural features such as dormers, alternating roof lines, and mixed siding materials and colors that break up the mass of the buildings. Revegetation with trees and brush that screen each building also helps reduce visual impact. The project also complies with federal, state, and local environmental standards, including those for water quality and scenic resources, and concedes to community members’ requests for energy efficiency and other resource protection. To protect water quality and clarity in the lake, Domus installed stormwater infiltration facilities at all of the sites; the largest site incorporates an advanced biofiltration system. In addition, four buildings on two of the sites received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver certification.

The developers also contributed to the Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project, a $44 million initiative to revitalize Kings Beach through stormwater management programs, new streetscapes, and new traffic measures. Domus updated transformers and added telephone and data lines in the commercial core. In addition, for a Kings Beach Housing Now site that was just outside of the core, overhead utilities were placed underground and colored sidewalks and decorative street lighting were installed.

Financing

Development financing for Kings Beach Now incorporated HOME Investment Partnerships funds with a 9 percent low-income housing tax credit for $18.3 million (see table 1). Placer County’s Redevelopment Agency contributed $7.9 million in loans to acquire the land and pay for soft costs and gap financing. The project also received a $3.3 million grant from California’s Department of Housing and Community Development Infill Infrastructure program, which funds infrastructure for infill and transit-oriented developments. Alliant Capital, a tax credit limited partner, provided $16.3 million in tax credit equity and a loan of nearly $2 million.


Table 1. Kings Beach Housing Now Financing

Source

Financing

Tax Credit Equity

$16,272,756

HOME

2,000,000

Alliant Capital Permanent Loan

1,995,900

Placer County RDA — Seller Carry Back

4,650,400

Placer County RDA — Predevelopment

1,136,500

Placer County RDA — Loan

2,131,400

Placer County Fee Waivers

75,000

HCD Infill Infrastructure Grant

3,314,400

General Partner Equity

1,627

Deferred Developer Fee

675,000

Total

$32,252,983

RDA=Redevelopment Agency; HCD=State of California Department of Housing and Community Development.
Source: California Tax Credit Allocation Committee. 2010. “Project Staff Report: 2010 First Round,” 3.

 

A Template for the Future

Kings Beach Housing Now exemplifies how affordable housing can meet the needs of residents and the larger community, which places a high value on preserving natural resources. Identifying community needs and concerns, working with planning agencies to update zoning regulations, and incorporating design elements that protect the environment helped Domus gain project approval. The need for affordable housing in this and other resort areas remains high. “We need to act to keep families, workers, and seniors living here so that we don’t lose the vibrancy of this place,” notes Cowen. By using the template Kings Beach Housing Now has created, additional affordable housing developments in the Lake Tahoe region may win the support of the community and approval agencies.


Source:

Interview with Meea Kang, president of Domus Development, 8 July 2014.

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Source:

Interview with Meea Kang, president of Domus Development, 8 July 2014.

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Source:

Email correspondence with Meea Kang, president of Domus Development, 15 July 2014; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research. 2014. “Housing and Community Design Awards.” Accessed 24 June 2014.

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Source:

Documents provided by Meea Kang, president of Domus Development; Interview with Meea Kang, 8 July 2014.

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Source:

Email correspondence with Elizabeth Henry, awards director of American Institute of Architects, 30 June 2014.

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Source:

Documents provided by Meea Kang, president of Domus Development.

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Source:

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research. 2014. “Housing and Community Design Awards.” Accessed 24 June 2014.

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Source:

Interview with Jeff Cowen, 3 June 2014.

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Source:

Interview with Theresa Duggan, 15 July 2014.

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Source:

Interview with Meea Kang, president of Domus Development, 8 July 2014; Meea Kang and Bernadette Austin. 2014. “Infill Development in a Post-Redevelopment World,” Domus Development, 16–7.

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Source:

Email correspondence with Elizabeth Henry, awards director of American Institute of Architects, 30 June 2014; Email correspondence with Meea Kang, 15 July 2014.

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Interview with Meea Kang, 8 July 2014.

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Source:

Email correspondence with Meea Kang, 15 July 2014; Interview with Theresa Duggan, 15 July 2014; Interview with Meea Kang, 8 July 2014.

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Source:

Interview with Jeff Cowen, 3 June 2014; Interview with Meea Kang, 8 July 2014; Domus Development, n.d. “Live Here — Properties: Kings Beach Housing Now.” Accessed 24 June 2014.

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"Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project.” Accessed 7 July 2014; Interview with Meea Kang, 8 July 2014; Email correspondence with Meea Kang, 15 July 2014.

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Source:

Interview with Meea Kang, 8 July 2014.

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Source:

Email correspondence with Meea Kang, 15 July 2014; Interview with Meea Kang, 8 July 2014.

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Interview with Jeff Cowen, 3 June 2014.

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Source:

Interview with Meea Kang, 8 July 2014.

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