At Lake Level, September 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 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.

US 50 Over Echo Summit Expected to Close for 2 Weeks in October

Caltrans and its contractor continue work on the Echo Summit Sidehill Viaduct project, which is replacing deficient structural components for an existing bridge on US 50 near Echo Summit. Although the project is scheduled for completion in 2020, progress has been better than expected and the project could potentially be completed later this fall. In order to complete the project, Caltrans will need to close both lanes of US 50 for up to two weeks, and this closure is likely to occur in mid-October. Exact closure dates have not yet been determined, and the City and Caltrans will provide more information in the coming weeks, including the best alternative travel routes to and from South Lake Tahoe.

The City is pleased that construction is ahead of schedule, and greatly appreciates Caltrans’ efforts to minimize travel impacts for South Lake Tahoe residents and visitors!

Other Road Construction Projects Nearing Completion

Other significant road construction projects in our area are also nearing completion, and should provide significant functional and aesthetic benefits for our area. The new roundabout at the US 50 / CA 89 intersection (Caltrans) is essentially complete, and should result in safer, more efficient traffic flow at this intersection. The US 50 rehabilitation project (Caltrans), which includes resurfacing, new curb & gutter, and pedestrian improvements between Sierra Boulevard and the Trout Creek bridge, is also nearing completion and should be complete in mid or late October.

The City’s Sierra Boulevard complete streets project (street reconstruction, sidewalk, bicycle trail, curb & gutter) is also progressing, with an expected completion date in mid or late October. Finally, the first phase of the City’s 2019 street rehabilitation program in the Gardner Mountain neighborhood is complete, with approximately 1.5 miles of City streets reconstructed. The second phase of the City’s 2019 program, which includes an additional 1.4 miles in the Gardner Mountain and Tahoe Valley neighborhoods, is currently under construction and is also expected to be complete in mid or late October. The City is pleased to complete these beneficial projects in our community, and looks forward to more street work in 2020!

City Council Votes to Defend Measure T Lawsuit

City Council and City staff worked diligently in recent months with individuals on both sides of the vacation home rental (VHR) issue in an attempt to craft a sustainable compromise for VHRs in South Lake Tahoe. Unfortunately, this attempt was not successful, and the Measure T lawsuit is now expected to be decided by the Court sometime in 2020. A formal mediation session originally scheduled for October 2019 has been cancelled.

City Council respects the will of the City’s voters, and thus recently voted unanimously to defend the Measure T lawsuit. The City Attorney will be leading the City’s defense efforts. In reaching this decision, City Council noted that it’s now up to the Court and/or the South Lake Tahoe community to determine any future adjustments to the City’s VHR regulations. The plaintiffs in the Measure T lawsuit have indicated that they will likely pursue a new, citizen-initiated ballot measure in the future that could adjust the City’s VHR regulations.

Under Measure T, all VHRs located outside of the Tourist Core Area and commercial and recreational areas will no longer be permitted beginning in 2021. The full implementation of Measure T in 2021 will result in a total reduction in the number of VHRs from approximately 1,700 to approximately 400.

City Council Reviews FY 19-20 Recommended Budget

City staff presented the FY 19-20 Recommended Budget to City Council on September 3, and City Council is expected to formally adopt the new City budget on September 17. The total recommended budget is $119.1 million, and includes a $47.3 million General Fund budget. Overall, the General Fund budget is approximately $2 million more than FY 18-19.

The FY 19-20 Recommended Budget includes sufficient funding to address the City’s Council’s highest priorities, and represents a balanced spending plan for the next fiscal year. Highlights of the FY 19-20 Recommended Budget include the following:

  • Funding for 7 new Fire positions to enable the reopening of Fire Station 2 in early 2020,
  • Funding for 3 new Police positions to improve Police patrol and response, and effectively manage the new cannabis program,
  • The allocation of $1.2 million as initial funding for comprehensive emergency communications improvements,
  • The allocation of more than $4.4 million for annual street rehabilitation efforts, which should enable the rehabilitation of 5 – 6 miles of City streets in 2020,
  • Funding for the purchase of up to 17 new Police vehicles to implement a single-assignment / take-home vehicle program,
  • The addition of 3 new positions assigned to street maintenance and snow removal activities,
  • The creation of a new position tasked with advancing the City’s affordable housing goals, including securing available grant funding,
  • The creation of a new Workforce Housing Fund to reserve existing City funds and accumulate additional funding for future affordable housing initiatives,
  • The replacement of key snow removal and Fire vehicles,
  • Initial seed funding for efforts promoted by the League to Save Lake Tahoe to improve the public transit system, and
  • The elimination or freezing of 6 existing City positions.

Importantly, recognizing the City’s heavy reliance on transient occupancy taxes that can potentially fluctuate in a slower economy, the City’s FY 19-20 revenue estimates are very conservative. Additionally, the City has intentionally maintained total General Fund reserves in excess of $15 million in order to guard against any fiscal or other emergencies, and to enable strategic capital investment as determined by City Council.

The City is pleased to present a FY 19-20 Recommended Budget that includes sufficient resources to maintain current City service levels, includes funding for strategic initiatives to enhance core services, invests appropriately in City infrastructure and other capital equipment, and compensates City employees fairly. The FY 19-20 Recommended Budget achieves a balance between fiscal conservatism and prudent investment in service quality, and is mindful of both short-term and long-term concerns and goals.

City Unveils New City Logo

After several months of soliciting potential designs, significant public input, a social media vote, and City Council review, the City has unveiled a new City logo. The new logo is intended to be a modern and easily-identifiable representation of the essence of South Lake Tahoe, and is part of the City’s overall rebranding efforts. The new logo was designed by Rise Designs, a local graphic design firm, and will complement (not replace) the official City seal that has been utilized since 1966. The new logo will be implemented immediately on all City digital platforms, and will eventually be integrated into the City’s print publications, vehicles, signs, and other City platforms.

Recreation and Swim Complex Analysis Underway; Project Set to Move Forward in 2020

At City Council direction, the City is now moving forward on the development of a new, improved Recreation and Swim Complex. The City is currently engaging consultants to perform an analysis of two options: 1) a comprehensive renovation and expansion of the existing complex, and 2) the construction of a completely new complex.

The City’s consultants will be reviewing hazardous materials issues (asbestos, lead paint, etc.), building code compliance, structural issues, and systems issues in the existing complex, and will compare the costs and benefits of both options to enable City Council to make an informed decision on the project. The City expects to complete this analysis by the end of 2019, with the determination of a clear path forward and the initiation of detailed design work in early 2020.

The new complex will be funded with dedicated transient occupancy tax revenues approved by the voters in 2016. The City currently has a balance of more than $8 million reserved for this project (and other recreation projects), and expects to accumulate an additional $2.5 million or more annually for the projects in future years. This dedicated funding source is expected to be sufficient to fund the new complex, any additional operating expenses, and other recreation improvements in the coming years.

The City is pleased to be moving forward on this project, and looks forward to a beautiful new complex in the next few years!

City Enters MOUs with TTD, Affordable Housing Developers

City Council recently approved two memoranda of understanding with the Tahoe Transportation District (TTD) and two experienced affordable housing developers – Pacific Development Group (PDG) and Urban Housing Communities (UHC). The MOUs express the City’s initial commitment to partner with these groups to identify and develop new affordable housing units in South Lake Tahoe on parcels already owned and/or controlled by PDG and UHC. In addition to these sites, located on Pioneer Trail and Fern Road, the City will be working to identify additional sites for the development of new affordable housing units.

The approved MOUs represent the first step in these partnerships, and will eventually lead to formal development agreements between the parties that spell out all project details. The City expects to consider formal development agreements in the coming months, and looks forward to the eventual development of needed new housing in our community.

City Soliciting Proposals for Emergency Communications System Improvements

The City’s existing emergency communications infrastructure is very old, antiquated, and unreliable for our public safety personnel, and the City is currently soliciting proposals for comprehensive emergency communications systems improvements (equipment, antennae, site infrastructure, dispatch consoles, network management system, portable and mobile radios, and more).

The existing system includes obsolete equipment, does not provide full coverage in the City limits and inside buildings, has limited capacity, is not compatible with other agencies’ equipment, and lacks modern and advanced communications features. The deficiencies in the City’s current system have the potential to delay response times, compromise the safety of our emergency responders, and do not meet Federal and State requirements.

The City Council has made emergency communications improvements one of its highest priorities, and the FY 19-20 Recommended Budget includes initial funding ($1.2 million) for these improvements, which have a total estimated cost in the $4 - $6 million range. The City expects to receive and review proposals later this year, identified the preferred equipment, and finalize a financing strategy for the complete package of improvements. The City is hopeful that initial installation of new equipment will occur during 2020.

Cannabis Permit Process Continues

The successful applicants for cannabis use permits are continuing through the permitting process, and City Council is expected to consider the first new permit and formal development agreement for a cannabis microbusiness in October.

City staff are currently working with the 3 successful retail applicants and one additional microbusiness applicant, and expect to present permit recommendations and formal development agreements later this fall or winter. These new businesses are expected to open to the public sometime in 2020.

Rocky Point Neighborhood Meeting Set for September 18

In an effort to provide information and to solicit concerns and ideas from residents in the Rocky Point neighborhood regarding the proposed US 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project, the City is sponsoring a special neighborhood meeting on Wednesday, September 18 from 4 pm – 7 pm.

Tahoe Transportation District officials and City officials will be on hand to explain the various project elements, answer questions, receive concerns, and listen to ideas from the residents of the Rocky Point neighborhood. The meeting will be held outdoors (under tents) at the cul-de-sac at the end of Fern Road, and neighborhood residents are encouraged to drop by anytime between 4 pm and 7 pm. Food and refreshments will be available. The meeting will include different information / comment stations focused on roadway design, right of way acquisition and relocation, neighborhood amenities, access and safety, and replacement housing.

Join Our Team – Employment Opportunities Available!

We’d love to have you consider joining our team of City employees who are working diligently to enhance the quality of life in South Lake Tahoe! The City has several full-time, temporary, and seasonal employment opportunities, so check out the list here.

Did you know?

Police, Fire, and Public Works employees represent approximately 74% of all City personnel costs anticipated in FY 19-20, and reflect the City’s emphasis on the provision of quality core services for our residents and visitors!


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"