Sign up for the brand new City Newsletter
The City of South Lake Tahoe is pleased to launch its brand new newsletter - "At Lake Level." You can sign up for the newsletter, and other City News, by texting Join News to 30890 or by clicking here. The monthly newsletter is prepared by City Manager Frank Rush in an effort to keep our community well informed about City issues and initiatives. This newsletter is just one more way the City of South Lake Tahoe is working for you!
City welcomes new leadership team
The City has a completely new leadership team in place, and the team continues to get up to speed, is building positive and productive working relationships with each other and our customers, and is working toward significant progress for the City. Brooke Laine is the City’s new Mayor, with Jason Collin serving as the new Mayor Pro-Tem. New Council Members Devin Middlebrook, Cody Bass, and Tamara Wallace round out the new City Council. Council meetings air live on SLT-TV, Channel 21 the day they are held and then re-air every day at 9:00 AM and 7:00 PM.
The City also has a new City Manager (Frank Rush), a new City Attorney (Heather Stroud), and a new City Clerk (Sue Blankenship). All of these individuals began serving in their new roles over the past 3 – 5 months, and all bring different backgrounds, new ideas, enthusiasm, and a sincere desire to bring our community together so that we can all move the City forward in the future.
Council works to develop collective priorities
The new City Council has been working closely with the City Manager and key staff in the past few months to identify and articulate its collective priorities for the City, and recently endorsed a draft document entitled “City Council Priorities, 2019 and Beyond”. The document includes 13 collective priorities and 45 key objectives, and this document will be further refined in the coming months as the City develops its FY 19-20 budget and future capital plans.
Identified Council priorities include: Fire Safety, Wildfire Prevention / Preparedness, Street Maintenance, Public Transportation, Snow Removal, Resident (Affordable) Housing, Climate Change Initiatives, Fleet and Infrastructure Replacement / Improvement, Comprehensive Organizational / Expenditure Review, Revenue Enhancement, Public Engagement / Communication / Trust, Effective Resolution of Contentious Issues, and Recreational Improvements.
Work has already begun toward several of the key objectives aimed at addressing these priorities, and the City’s focus will be on these 13 priority areas in the coming months and years.
City works to reopen Fire Station 2
In accordance with City Council’s identified priorities, the City is currently implementing plans to reopen Fire Station 2 in the Al Tahoe neighborhood, which has been closed since 2015. The City has submitted a Federal grant application for significant funding to hire 7 additional Fire personnel later this fall / winter, and will also shift 3 existing Fire personnel from Fire Station 3 to Fire Station 2 when the station reopens in early 2020.
The new station will reopen with a total of 10 Fire personnel, which will equate to a 3-man company (identical to staffing levels at Fire Station 1 and Fire Station 3) operating at Fire Station 2 at all times.
The City has developed a financing plan that relies on grant funding, additional General Fund appropriations, and reassignment of existing authorized positions from other City departments to the Fire Department in order to fund this additional nearly $1 million annual expense.
The City is also purchasing a new Fire ladder truck that will be assigned to Fire Station 2, and this necessary apparatus will be purchased with existing General Fund reserves later this spring and be in service next spring.
The reopening of Fire Station 2 will significantly improve the City’s Fire suppression capabilities, reduce response times in the central area of the City, and enhance Fire personnel safety.
City plans to rehabilitate/resurface nearly 2.5 miles of streets this summer
Also in accordance with City Council’s identified priorities, the City is actively working to develop an enhanced, consistent, annual street rehabilitation / resurfacing plan to systematically improve the pavement quality on the City’s 130+ miles of City streets. Many City streets have poor pavement quality, and past rehabilitation / resurfacing efforts have been sporadic depending on available resources and other competing priorities.
City Council recently allocated an additional nearly $2 million of unanticipated transient occupancy tax revenues for targeted street rehabilitation / resurfacing work this summer, and the combination of these funds and previously allocated state funds will enable the resurfacing of approximately 1.8 miles of City streets that would have otherwise been delayed indefinitely. These funds will complement more than $1.25 million of grant funding that will enable the resurfacing of an additional .6 miles of Sierra Boulevard this summer, resulting in a total of nearly 2.5 miles of work this summer.
City staff are working to develop an annual street rehabilitation / resurfacing program that would result in the annual resurfacing of approximately 5 – 6 miles of City streets each year, which would establish a 20 or 25 year life cycle for all City streets. City staff and City Council will be working diligently during budget and capital planning sessions in the coming months to hopefully identify a total of ~$6 -7 million of annual recurring funding for street rehabilitation / resurfacing efforts.
Council to consider plan for replacement of aging snow removal equipment
The City’s snow removal fleet includes numerous aging grader / plows and blowers, and the City is currently developing a financing plan to replace several of the oldest snow removal vehicles so that new, reliable equipment can be in place prior to the 2019 – 2020 winter season. Again, this initiative also reflects City Council’s recently identified priorities.
City staff have identified 9 snow grader / plows (ranging in age from 13 – 40 years old, with most in the 20 – 25 year old range) and 4 snow blowers (ranging in age from 24 – 44 years old) that are in need of replacement in the near future. The total estimated replacement cost for this critical equipment is nearly $6 million, and City Council will soon consider an initial investment of $2 - $3 million to address the most significant needs. (The City is fortunate to have a healthy undesignated General Fund reserve, with approximately $7 million available for priority expenditures.)
The City will be carefully analyzing all annual expenditures over the coming months, and will be working to re-allocate annual funding for the strategic, scheduled replacement of all critical equipment in the coming years to ensure timely and effective snow removal operations.
City holds successful US 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project community discussion
Approximately 125 people showed up to share their thoughts at a special community forum about the US 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project held on March 14th. The forum was sponsored by the City of South Lake Tahoe and was a chance for the public to share their thoughts with City Council and the City Manager. The goal is to start a conversation about the project and what shape the public would like to see the project take in South Lake Tahoe.
This significant project involves much more than the relocation of US 50 south of the Heavenly Village area. The project also includes the construction of a new and complete streetscape along the current US 50 route, the construction of replacement affordable housing units, parking improvements in this area, public transit improvements, and other community amenities.
Significant planning efforts are just now beginning for these other project elements, and the City has made it the highest priority to identify, understand, and hopefully address outstanding community concerns about the project – in a sincere effort to help bring our community together and resolve the historical controversy associated with this project. The public engagement session the City recently hosted is the first of many. The City is actively listening to the community’s concerns, working to answer outstanding questions, seeking solutions aimed at addressing the concerns, and working with project sponsors to hopefully advance a project that our entire community will support in the future.
Snowglobe working with City to mitigate concerns, sign new contract
City staff continue to work to further mitigate noise concerns associated with SnowGlobe, and are working to advance a new multi-year agreement that results in continued economic benefits to the local business community. The City is hopeful that a new agreement will be considered by the City Council within the next two months in order to provide ample prep time for the 2019 events.
City seeks sustainable resolution to VHR Issue
The City is also working to build relationships with groups on both sides of the contentious VHR issue in an effort to successfully resolve the current legal challenge to Measure T (the citizen-initiated ballot measure that narrowly passed in November and that will eventually eliminate all vacation home rentals in residential areas by 2021).
City Council and City staff are seeking an eventual resolution that respects the valid concerns on both sides of this issue, that will hopefully be sustainable over the long-term, and enable the City to avoid continual conflict regarding VHRs in the future (ballot measure, lawsuit, ballot measure, lawsuit, etc.). The City hopes to identify a sustainable resolution by the end of 2019.
Big improvements coming to Sierra Boulevard
City staff are gearing up for the complete reconstruction of Sierra Boulevard this summer. This $6 million+ grant-funded project will completely transform the streetscape, including street rehabilitation / resurfacing, construction of new bicycle path, street lighting improvements, traffic calming features, and more. Work is expected to begin in May and be complete by later this fall.
City Clerk Sue Blankenship receives Municipal Clerk Certification
Newly elected City Clerk Susan Blankenship earned her California Professional Municipal Clerks (CPMC) certification from the University of California, Riverside University Extension. This certification represents 120 hours of technical training specifically designed for professional clerks consisting of courses related to municipal elections, professional ethics, Political Reform Act, California Public Records Act, and Emergency Crisis Management among others. This certification is recognized by the City Clerk’s Association of California and the International Institute of Municipal Clerks. Congratulations Susan!
Pilot food truck program to kick off soon
The City Council recently adopted new regulations to implement a pilot program that would allow more mobile food vendors to operate in the City in the future. The pilot program allows mobile food vendors to set up at up to 6 additional commercial locations on a regular basis in the future, thereby providing additional dining options for customers at other commercial facilities.
The program will be reviewed in early 2020, and further adjustments may be considered at that time.
Adult-Use Cannabis application period now open
The City Council also recently adopted new regulations to allow limited cannabis retail, manufacturing, cultivation, and distribution businesses in the City of South Lake Tahoe.
A maximum of 13 cannabis businesses could be open in South Lake Tahoe by the end of 2019, and the application window is open from now until April 5. Applicants must meet numerous requirements in order to secure a public safety license and cannabis use permit, and must execute a development agreement with the City that outlines the conditions of operation.
The new program is the result of several months of hard work by many stakeholders, and is aimed at promoting public safety, compatible land-use, fair competition, and successful cannabis businesses.
City places high priority on getting you important, timely information
The City Manager and new Communications Manager have placed a high priority on timely, objective, and effective communications to our customers – in a deliberate effort to ensure our community is well-informed and to hopefully build greater trust in the City organization.
Please stay engaged by subscribing to the City’s email and text message alerts, visit the City’s website (additional improvements planned), follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more), and by tuning into SLT-TV 21.
Council works to bring California news back to South Lake Tahoe
In South Lake Tahoe, Spectrum is the cable television provider authorized by the State of California. Because of our proximity to Nevada, however, the local Spectrum channel lineup includes only Reno television stations, and our area lacks comprehensive coverage of California news that is more relevant to our community. The City is concerned about the lack of California news, and City Council has been engaging with Federal, State, and County officials in recent months in an effort to add Sacramento television stations to the channel lineup in South Lake Tahoe. These efforts continue, and we hope to affect the desired change in the near future.