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At Lake Level, May The official newsletter of the City of South Lake Tahoe

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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!

Council Approves Funding for Snow Removal Equipment

The City’s snow removal fleet includes 31 pieces of critical equipment, and the average age of the City’s snow removal fleet is approximately 20 years old. City Council has placed a high priority on ensuring that City crews have reliable equipment to remove snow from City streets in an efficient and effective manner, and recently allocated more than $3 million of unassigned General Fund reserves for the purchase of 3 new grader / plows, 1 new blower (streets), and 1 additional blower designed for snow removal on bicycle trails.

City staff are working to have this new equipment ordered and in operation in South Lake Tahoe in time for the 2020 winter season. Additionally, Council appropriated funding for the early retirement of outstanding snow removal equipment debt, and this strategic decision will put the City in a better position for future replacement of critical snow removal equipment.

Sierra Boulevard Improvements Underway

Artist rendering of finished project

The City’s contractor has begun work on significant street improvements along Sierra Boulevard, and work will continue all summer on the construction of this “complete street” project. This $6 million+ project, funded primarily by multiple grants, includes the complete rehabilitation of the roadway and the construction of new sidewalk, driveway connections, curb and gutter, storm water improvements, lighting improvements, parking improvements, a mixed-use trail, and bike lanes.

Work is expected to be complete by mid-October. We appreciate the community’s patience and understanding as we work to complete this beneficial project, which will significantly enhance safety, accessibility, and aesthetics in this area of South Lake Tahoe.

Significant Street Rehabilitation Project Planned for Gardner Mountain Area

Public Works staff are currently soliciting bids for the rehabilitation of nearly 2 miles of residential streets in the Gardner Mountain this summer, and combined with the planned rehabilitation of Sierra Boulevard the City expects to complete the rehabilitation of approximately 2.5 miles of the City’s nearly 130 miles of City streets this year.

The Gardner Mountain neighborhood has the lowest pavement condition rating in the City, and this summer’s efforts will include the rehabilitation of certain segments of Taylor Way, Panther Lane, Wentworth Lane, Shady Lane, Roger Avenue, 13th Street, and various intersections in that area. Work is expected to begin in late summer and extend into early fall.

The City is working to develop a sustainable annual funding source for a regular, annual street rehabilitation program, with a goal to eventually rehabilitate 5 – 6 miles of City streets annually (in various City neighborhoods). City staff are also working closely with South Tahoe Public Utility District and Southwest Gas to coordinate upcoming utility work and street rehabilitation plans in an effort to maximize available street rehabilitation funding.

Three Significant Caltrans Projects to Affect SLT This Summer

Caltrans will be undertaking three significant projects in and near South Lake Tahoe this summer, and travelers should expect delays in these areas throughout the summer. In total, these projects represent a total investment of more than $75 million in regional transportation infrastructure. Projects include:

  • The replacement of the Echo Summit bridge on US 50 approximately 7 miles west of South Lake Tahoe, with work expected to begin in May and continue throughout the summer and fall, and likely into spring and summer 2020. Both eastbound and westbound traffic lanes are expected to flow for most of the construction period, however, a complete closure is expected sometime this fall for an approximately two-week period in September. For more information, please click here.
  • The construction of a new roundabout at the intersection of US 50 and SR 89 in Meyers. This project will convert the existing T intersection into a three-leg roundabout in an effort to reduce the potential for and severity of collisions at this intersection. Work is expected to begin soon, and should be complete sometime this fall. Traffic is expected to continue to flow normally through this area during construction, however, minor delays are likely. For more information, please click here.
  • The rehabilitation of US 50 between the Sierra Tract and the Trout Creek bridge. This project represents the third and final year of comprehensive road rehabilitation, storm water improvements, bike lanes, curb & gutter, sidewalk, and traffic signal improvements along US 50 in South Lake Tahoe. Preliminary work is now underway, and is expected to be complete this fall. Traffic delays are expected, however, Caltrans will be using the center turn lane as an additional through lane to keep 2 lanes of traffic flowing in each direction during summer months. For more information, please click here.

City Continues Deliberate Engagement Efforts on US 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project

The City continues to be more involved in the significant planning efforts now beginning for the various elements of the US 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project (the “Project”), and is actively soliciting community input to ensure that the Project reflects the vision for OUR community.

The Project involves the relocation of US 50 to the south and east of the Heavenly Village and the Stateline area, and this route was approved by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in November 2018. The Project includes several other important elements, including the development of a “main street” plan for the existing US 50 route through Heavenly Village and Stateline, the construction of at least 109 replacement affordable housing units, parking management and transit improvements, and neighborhood improvements in the Rocky Point neighborhood.

March 14 Community Forum

The City hosted a special community forum on March 14 at the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center, with approximately 140 people in attendance. Many attendees shared their ideas and concerns with the City Council and City staff, who listened intently to these ideas and concerns and will be working to address community concerns in the significant planning efforts now beginning. City staff compiled a list of the questions raised at the March 14 meeting, and a Question & Answer document is available for review here.

April 30 Community Forum

The City also hosted a community forum specifically for residents of the Rocky Point neighborhood at the Forest Suites Resort at Heavenly Village on April 30. Approximately 50 people attended, and participated in a discussion about the Project’s impacts on the Rocky Point neighborhood. The City appreciates this input, and will be working diligently to address Rocky Point concerns during the planning process.

Additional community meetings will be scheduled, and additional Project information will be distributed by the City as the planning process continues in the coming months and years.

A map showing the new US 50 route approved by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is located here.

City Reaches Agreement With Lime for Scooter Program This Summer

City Council recently approved a new, one-year agreement with Lime that regulates their popular Lime scooter program in South Lake Tahoe. The new agreement allows Lime scooters only (Lime bikes will not be deployed this year), requires a drivers license to unlock the scooters in order to discourage use by individuals under the age of 18, and limits the maximum speed to 15 mph. The agreement also promotes the use of geo-fencing in high pedestrian use areas, promotes responsible parking of scooters, requires Lime to remove improperly parked scooters within 4 hours, and enables the City to remove scooters parking unsafe locations and recover City costs. The City is pleased to reach a cooperative agreement with Lime, and looks forward to continued success and improvements for the Lime program in the future.

City Continues Work Toward Sustainable Compromise on VHR Issue

Measure T, which enacted new VHR regulations in South Lake Tahoe, was approved by the voters in November 2018 and went into effect in December 2018. The key provisions of Measure T include a prohibition on the issuance of new VHR permits in residential areas, the phase-out of existing VHR permits in residential areas in 2021, and an immediate reduction in the maximum occupancy limits in permitted VHRs. In late December, a lawsuit was filed to overturn Measure T, and this lawsuit is still pending.

A subsequent agreement has delayed the implementation of the new maximum occupancy limits until the case is decided, and pre-Measure T maximum occupancy limits remain in effect. In the meantime, the City and the plaintiffs have agreed to enter into formal mediation later this year in an attempt to reach a sustainable compromise on this issue and resolve the lawsuit without a trial. City staff have been working with interest groups on both sides of the VHR issue in recent months in an attempt to identify a sustainable compromise that will be supported by the vast majority in our community in a future ballot initiative. If this effort is successful, it is anticipated that a new City-sponsored ballot initiative will be presented to the voters within the next year. If this effort is not successful, it is likely that the Court will decide the case within the next year.

City staff are working diligently to identify a potential sustainable compromise in an effort to bring our community together on this divisive issue, protect and promote the residential character of SLT neighborhoods, and promote a strong tourism economy. In addition, the City expects to lose approximately $2 - $3 million of annual transient occupancy tax revenue if / when Measure T is fully implemented, and this revenue is critical to the City’s ability to fund the proper investment in our core services (Police, Fire, street maintenance, and snow removal

SLT Fire and Rescue Participates in Community Wildfire Preparedness Efforts

The South Lake Tahoe Fire and Rescue Department participated in a well-attended community forum on wildfire preparedness efforts on April 25. Other regional agencies, including CalFire, Lake Valley Fire, and others also participated and explained current efforts to promote public safety. To view a video of this two-hour, informative forum, please click here.

Applications Now Being Accepted for 4th of July Parade

Artist rendering of completed project

The annual 4th of July Parade in South Lake Tahoe is back this year and bigger than ever, and we want you to be a part of it! Applications are now being accepted to be a part of the parade. Individuals, businesses, sports groups, philanthropy groups, schools, etc. are all invited to participate, and FLOAT entries are highly encouraged. There is no entry fee. Applications are available here, and parade applications are due by June 14, 2019.

Adult-Use Cannabis Permit Applications Being Reviewed

The City received a total of 18 permit applications for adult-use cannabis retail operations, along with 2 microbusiness applications and 1 cultivation application. City staff and a special application review committee are currently reviewing the applications, and the application review process will continue over the next several months. The process is expected to result in the issuance of up to 3 retail permits, 2 microbusiness permits, and 1 cultivation permit by the City Council later this year.

Tahoe Home Connection Program Seeks to Link Second Home Owners with Seasonal and Long-Term Renters

Affordable workforce housing remains a challenging issue in South Lake Tahoe, and the City and other community groups are actively working on strategies to address this issue. One group, Tahoe Home Connection, is launching a new program designed to help second home owners rent their properties on a seasonal or long-term basis to area residents working on part-time, seasonal, or full-time basis. The goals of the new program are to increase the supply of desirable, high quality housing to keep our workforce local (and thereby promote a more vibrant community) AND provide second home owners with a streamlined, low risk option to earn rental income from their otherwise vacant properties. To learn more about Tahoe Home Connection, please click here.

City Maintains Healthy Level of General Fund Reserves

Thanks to prudent financial management and conservative budgeting, the City is fortunate to maintain a healthy level of General Fund reserves. These reserves are important for cash flow, enhance interest earnings, are vital for emergency situations, and also enable the City to seize unexpected opportunities as they arise.

As of May 1, the City’s total General Fund reserves are more than $16.5 million. Of this total, approximately $10.3 million is formally reserved as per the City’s official policy that stipulates that the City will maintain formal reserves equal to 25% of the General Fund budget, with another $1.2 million reserved as contingencies for litigation and liability claims. Notably, the City’s reserves also include approximately $5 million that is available for appropriation at the City Council’s discretion for beneficial City initiatives.

Did you know?

The new City Council has placed a clear emphasis on core City services during their first 4+ months in office, allocating approximately $7.5 million of grant funding, additional transient occupancy tax revenues, and unassigned General Fund reserves for specific initiatives to improve the City’s core services – Police, Fire, street maintenance, and snow removal.

Credits:

Created with images by Josh Clemence - "Island on a mountain lake" • Nathan Dumlao - "untitled image" • skeeze - "lake tahoe dusk landscape" • Ethan Dow - "untitled image" - "lake tahoe california water"

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