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At Lake Level, December 2019 The official newsletter of the City of South Lake Tahoe

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The City of South Lake Tahoe is pleased to publish its monthly newsletter - "At Lake Level." You can sign up for the newsletter, and other City News, by texting JOIN NEWS to 30890 or click 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.

City and County Working On Long-Term Partnership for “56-Acres” Site

City of South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County officials have been working together over the past few months to develop a new agreement for the use and future development of the “56-Acres” site in the center of South Lake Tahoe. The site, which is owned by El Dorado County (approximately 41 acres) and the City of South Lake Tahoe (approximately 15 acres), is currently home to the Campground By The Lake, the Recreation and Swim Complex, the El Dorado County Library, the Senior Center, and more.

The current agreement between the City and County expires in 2023, and the City Council and El Dorado County Board of Supervisors will consider a new 50-year+ agreement in 2020. The City is working collaboratively with the County to obtain City control over future development of the site for improved public recreation and City government facilities. The proposed new agreement contemplates an integrated “Central Park-like” complex for South Lake Tahoe, the centralization of City government operations, and the promotion of a true “downtown” concept (that incorporates public access to Lake Tahoe, the retail components on Harrison Avenue, and the public recreation and City government facilities envisioned for the “56-Acres”). Concepts under consideration include the construction of a new Recreation Center / Swim Complex / Senior Center facility overlooking Lake Tahoe, improved pedestrian connections between the “56-Acres” and Lakeview Commons / Lake Tahoe, an improved campground facility, additional outdoor recreational amenities, and the future construction of a new City Hall / Police Station on the site.

The City Council and the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors will initially consider the proposed new agreement at public meetings on January 14. More detailed site planning, incorporating public input, is expected to occur later in 2020 after the new agreement is finalized.

New Public Works Facility Complete

City contractors recently completed construction of new Public Works offices and maintenance facilities located at 1740 D Street. Public Works staff are in the process of relocating from current offices located on Tata Lane and maintenance facilities located on Rufus Allen Drive, and the new facility consolidates all Public Works functions on D Street (adjacent to the City’s corporation yard). The City is pleased to complete this important project, which is aimed at consolidating Public Works functions, improving efficiency and staff communications, enhancing customer service, and improving the workplace environment for City staff.

City and County Exploring Construction of Potential New Fire / EMS Station

City of South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County officials are also exploring the construction of a new Fire / EMS Station at the current site of Fire Station 2 on the corner of US 50 and Star Lake Avenue in the Al Tahoe area. The existing Fire Station 2, which currently houses CalTahoe EMS and will soon house the South Lake Tahoe Fire-Rescue Department, was constructed in the 1940s and is nearing the end of its useful life.

The current concept under consideration involves the demolition of the existing station and construction of a new, larger facility designed to house both Fire and EMS personnel and equipment in the future. The new station would be jointly funded by the City and County, and would also occupy a vacant parcel behind the existing Fire Station 2. The proposed new station is aimed at providing a modern facility for critical public safety responders, and is also part of a broader plan to locate all City leadership in the center of the City (by incorporating the Fire Chief’s office in the proposed new station).

Initial consideration by the City Council and the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors will occur at public meetings on January 14.

SnowGlobe Music Festival Returns to SLT

The SnowGlobe Music Festival returns to South Lake Tahoe on December 29, 30, and 31, culminating with a New Year’s Eve celebration at midnight on December 31.

City officials, Lake Tahoe Community College officials, and many other partners have been working collaboratively with SnowGlobe producers to promote a safe, enjoyable event, and have been working hard to further mitigate noise concerns. City and TRPA staff are working closely with SnowGlobe sound engineers to improve the monitoring and management of noise from the event, and are also implementing changes to the stage layout that are aimed at reducing impacts on the Pioneer Village and Glenwood Way areas.

For more information about SnowGlobe, please click here.

City Maintains Healthy Financial Reserves

The City of South Lake Tahoe is fortunate to enjoy a strong financial position, and maintains a significant General Fund reserve balance. As of September 30, 2019, the City’s total General Fund reserve is approximately $19.5 million, or more than 40% of the City’s annual General Fund operating budget.

A healthy General Fund reserve is critical to the City to ensure adequate cash-flow, to address challenges resulting from a natural or financial emergency, to generate additional investment earnings, and to enable the City to respond quickly and take advantage of unexpected opportunities that will ultimately enhance the quality of life for our residents and visitors.

Work Begins to Streamline Housing Development Regulations, Procedures

The City Council has formally accepted State grant funds and has awarded a consulting contract to identify and implement desired changes to the City’s regulations and procedures to promote the development of additional residential housing in South Lake Tahoe. The City’s consultant will work closely with City staff and other stakeholders to reduce impediments, promote faster and easier approvals, and allow for additional alternative housing options in South Lake Tahoe in the future (potentially also expanding the use of accessory dwelling units). Work is expected to be complete later in 2020, with consideration by the Planning Commission and City Council in late 2020.

City Seeks Grant Funds for Fuels Reduction Activities, Emergency Generators

The City continues its aggressive efforts to secure helpful Federal and State grant funding for important City initiatives, and City Council recently approved two significant grant applications. The City has submitted an $844,000 grant application to CalFire for fuels reduction activities on certain City-owned parcels, including the “56-Acres”, the Lake Tahoe Airport, and a large vacant parcel in the Tahoe Island area. The City has also submitted a $485,000 application to the State for the purchase of new emergency backup generators for 8 critical City facilities. If awarded, these funds will enable reliable emergency power during future public safety power shutoff events and other emergency situations.

City Honors 23 Long-Serving Employees

The City recently honored 23 long-serving employees for their commitment and dedication to the City of South Lake Tahoe. Mayor Jason Collin and City Council recognized these employees at the December 3 City Council meeting.

In total, twelve employees reached the 5-year service milestone, four employees reached the 10-year service milestone, two employees reached the 15-year service milestone, and five employees reached the 20-year service milestone. City employees recognized for 20 years of quality service include Linda Clark (Police), Jerry Heath (Public Works), Karl Koeppen (Fire), Shannon Laney (Police), and Darci Prescott (Recreation).

The City Council and City leadership staff extend its sincere appreciation to all City employees, especially these long-serving employees. Thank you!

Climate Action Plan Kicks Off

The City recently held a kick-off meeting for the development of the City’s first Climate Action Plan. The meeting was attended by approximately 100 members of the community, and officially launched this important City initiative. The Climate Action Plan is being developed in partnership with the Sierra Nevada Alliance, and the effort is being led by the City’s two CivicSpark Climate Fellows.

The Climate Action Plan is expected to identify goals and strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand the use of renewable energy sources, and other City initiatives to help combat climate change right here in our community. The Climate Action Plan will seek to identify goals and strategies that also provide other community benefits, including local economic development, wildfire resilience, improved air quality, traffic congestion reduction, and improved public health.

The plan is expected to be complete and presented to the City Council in late summer 2020.

Verizon Tower Appeal Set for January 14

The proposed new Verizon cell tower approved for a location on Needle Peak Road by the Planning Commission in summer 2019 is subject to a formal appeal, and the appeal is scheduled to be considered by the City Council at its January 14 meeting. The City Council will consider testimony from Verizon representatives and concerned citizens at that time, and ultimately determine whether the proposed new cell tower will be constructed at that location.

City staff continue to work with Verizon officials to identify a potential alternative location for the proposed Needle Peak Road cell tower, and have previously considered several alternative locations that were ultimately not feasible for various reasons (service improvement limitations, regulatory constraints, topographical challenges, etc.). City staff and Verizon officials are currently evaluating a potential site near Temple Bat Yam, and if this site is feasible it is likely that the January 14 appeal hearing will be delayed further to enable more detailed consideration of the Temple Bat Yam site. If the Temple Bat Yam site is not feasible, the Needle Peak Road site appeal hearing will occur on January 14.

Development of New Wireless Facilities Ordinance Continues

City staff, with the assistance of an experienced wireless facilities attorney, continue efforts to develop a new wireless facilities ordinance for consideration by the Planning Commission and City Council. Potential new ordinance provisions will be discussed at a special joint meeting of the Planning Commission and City Council on January 16 at 6 pm at The Beach Retreat conference facility.

The City recently hosted a public input meeting on wireless facilities issues, and received helpful input from many concerned citizens. Concerns expressed by the public generally include aesthetics, proximity to residential areas, and public health concerns associated with the future deployment of 5G technology. The City is working to include new ordinance provisions that address these concerns, that are consistent with applicable Federal and State laws and regulations, and that strike the proper balance on this issue for our community.

The location of wireless facilities (both large cell towers and small cell facilities) is a complex issue, and is impacted by many factors including service coverage gaps, topography, vegetation, regulatory constraints, geography (the proximity of the lake), and the built environment. The City’s goal in drafting the new ordinance is to adequately address the public’s concerns while specifically allowing for responsible improvements in wireless service in South Lake Tahoe.

Firefighter Recruitment Continues

Human Resources and Fire Department staff continue to actively recruit new firefighters to enable the City to reopen Fire Station 2 in early 2020. The City seeks to fill at least 7 new, grant-funded positions, and interested applicants are encouraged to apply here. The City offers a competitive salary and an excellent benefits package, along with the opportunity to serve as a firefighting hero in our beautiful mountain / lake resort community!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

All of us at the City of South Lake Tahoe wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Enjoy this special season with your families and friends, and all the blessings in your lives in this beautiful area we all call home!

In recognition of the holidays, City offices will be closed on December 24 and 25, and on January 1. The Recreation and Swim Complex will close at 1:30 pm on December 24, will be closed all day on December 25, will close at 1:30 pm on December 31, and will be closed all day on January 1.

Did you know?

Your City Council and your City staff are clearly focused on the City Council’s identified priorities for South Lake Tahoe, which include the following:

  • Fire Safety
  • Wildfire Prevention / Preparedness
  • Street Maintenance
  • Public Transportation
  • Snow Removal
  • Resident (Affordable) Housing
  • Sustainability Initiatives
  • Fleet and Infrastructure Replacement / Improvement
  • Comprehensive Organizational / Expenditure Review
  • Revenue Enhancement
  • Public Engagement / Communication / Trust
  • Effective Resolution of Contentious Issues
  • Recreational Improvements

Many of the initiatives described in the At Lake Level newsletter are deliberately aligned with these Council-identified priorities, and City Council and City staff continue to work hard to address these priorities.