Since joining the El Dorado Community Foundation in 2007, I have been engaging with South Lake Tahoe area communities on a weekly basis.
What I have heard has been a repeating conversation on a few specific topics; diversification of economy, traffic, internet speed, visitors forgetting that people live and work here, protection and advocacy on behalf of the lake, and housing.
I do not need to explain any of these to you, the reader. If you have lived here for any length of time, you have heard it and perhaps even perceive these topics as circling the drain, which is understandable as there is always a point when the talking needs to transition into doing.
Making that transition is difficult on the easiest of topics, and near impossible on the ones that involve so many different entities sharing “hedges in the maze.”
So, what does this all mean and why I am writing this?
The short answer is housing, and solutions for housing in the South Lake Tahoe area. We do have an executable, which is so much better than just having a “plan.” That executable is the South Lake Tahoe Land Bank. With this scenario the land bank acts as the financial repository of funding for housing initiatives. A repository that can attract funding and has the additional benefit of being a charitable entity.
Our first effort in funding housing solutions is a partnership with the South Lake Tahoe Board of Realtors, and with the assistance of the title companies. Anyone purchasing or selling a home, business, property, condo, or apartment complex will be able to make a charitable donation to the South Lake Tahoe Land Bank.
So, what is the incentive to make a charitable gift to the South Lake Tahoe Land Bank as part of a property purchase? Pretty simple answer, the word charitable.
Over 90% of sellers or buyers, or both, are going to be dealing with taxes with the sale of a home, specifically capital gains. The choice is provided to both the seller and buyer to either pay those capitol gains at tax filing or make a charitable contribution for the amount that would be owed in capitol gains to the South Lake Tahoe Land Bank.
The charitable donation is then used to offset the capital gain taxes, and as a bonus the charitable gift can be used over a five-year period to lower tax liability. Who would have thought that taxes could be so exciting?
The funds raised through charitable gifts of capital gains from the purchase or sale of real estate provides a way to build a community where people can afford to live in the same city in which they work, giving a sense of community ownership that might not exist otherwise. In this way, communities can become stronger than ever.
As a foundation we are creative in our approach, dynamic in our structure, and determined in our motivation. When faced with the near impossible, we do not turn away. We turn toward the problem, and we build solutions that works.
Bill Roby has been executive director for the El Dorado Community Foundation since 2008.