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At Lake Level, July 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 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. Scroll down to read more!

Street Rehabilitation Contract Awarded; Second Round Planned

The City continues efforts to develop a regular annual street rehabilitation program, and City Council recently awarded a $930k contract to rehabilitate ~ 1.5 miles of City streets in the Gardner Mountain neighborhood later this summer. Fortunately, bids for this work came in well below budget, and the City is currently soliciting bids for another ~ 1.5 miles of City streets that will also be rehabilitated later this fall, with a contract expected to be awarded later in July or August. Upon completion of this work, and another 0.6 miles on Sierra Boulevard this summer / fall, the City will have rehabilitated ~ 3.6 miles of streets this year. The City’s goal is 5 – 6 miles annually, and the City will be working to budget sufficient funds in FY 19-20 and beyond to meet this goal.

City Maintains Solid Financial Position

The City’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018 was recently presented to City Council, with a favorable report from the City’s auditors. The City maintains a solid financial position, with more than $17 million of General Fund reserves as of May 31, 2019. The City’s annual General Fund budget is approximately $43 million.

Council Approves New SnowGlobe Agreement

City Council approved a new, 5-year agreement with SnowGlobe at its June 18 meeting. If approved by SnowGlobe / MTV / Viacom, the agreement keeps the popular winter music festival in South Lake Tahoe, and includes several key provisions. The agreement allows SnowGlobe to continue to operate at the Community Playfields (at Lake Tahoe Community College) for at least 2 more years, encourages the identification of a more suitable local festival venue for years 3 – 5, and would enable the City to cancel the agreement if no alternative venue is identified. The agreement also incorporates TRPA’s regulation of noise levels on New Year’s Eve (with SnowGlobe ending at 10 pm on New Year’s Eve, but with a few potential strategies available to SnowGlobe to potentially allow the event to extend slightly beyond midnight), and eliminates the City’s annual expense (~ $125,000) to support the festival. The City is currently awaiting a response from SnowGlobe on their acceptance of the terms in the new agreement.

Several Affordable Housing Initiatives Underway

The City is currently pursuing several affordable housing initiatives, including the following:

  • Participation in the new South Shore Housing Opportunity Assessment and Action Plan sponsored by the Tahoe Prosperity Center,
  • Seeking State grant funding to streamline development approvals for multi-family housing projects in the future,
  • Working to determine the best strategies for the use of approximately $2 million of residual housing funds currently held by the City,
  • Developing a policy for the provision / sale of City-owned commodities to promote and encourage affordable housing projects in the future, and
  • Developing an RFP to make City-owned land and commodities available for the development of new affordable housing units.

These various initiatives represent a multi-faceted approach to promote the development of new affordable housing in our community in the coming years.

Measure T Headed for Formal Mediation

City Council and City staff continue to consider strategies to achieve a win/win/win scenario for the proponents of Measure T, the local VHR industry and owners, and the City. All three parties are expected to participate in a formal mediation process in mid-October 2019, with a goal of securing tentative agreement on a new VHR ballot measure that would be considered by the voters of SLT in 2020. The City’s goal is to effectively resolve this issue in order to avoid further litigation, additional citizen-initiated ballot measures, and eliminate division in the community.

City Working to Develop Achievable, Affordable Capital Replacement / Improvement Program

Much of the City’s vehicle fleet, heavy equipment, and capital infrastructure is beyond its useful life, and City staff are working to develop an achievable, affordable capital replacement / improvement program to present to City Council in conjunction with the FY 19-20 City budget. The plan seeks to identify the highest priority needs, identify realistic and available revenue sources, and strategically schedule replacement and improvements over the next 5 years. The development and adherence to this plan will hopefully enable the City to gradually enhance and maintain the quality, function, and reliability of the City’s assets in fiscally prudent manner. Thoughtful planning is required to earmark appropriate revenues for these needs and maintain level capital spending in the future.

Cannabis Application Scoring Complete, Appeals and Public Records Requests Filed

A specially-appointed, objective review committee completed the blind-scoring of the cannabis permit applications received by the City earlier this spring. A total of 18 retail applications were received, and the 3 highest scoring applicants are eligible to continue in the permitting process. The City has since received several formal appeals from the unsuccessful applicants, and these appeals will be heard by a special City hearing officer in the coming weeks. The appeals process will delay the process for issuing retail cannabis permits at least until the appeals are decided, and perhaps longer. The City has also received numerous public records requests regarding the cannabis scoring, and these requests are being reviewed by the City’s legal team to determine the appropriate release of this information. Due to the appeals process and potential forthcoming litigation, it is possible that the issuance of retail cannabis permits will be delayed beyond 2019.

The City is moving forward in the permitting process with the two cannabis microbusiness applicants and one cultivation applicant. These permitting processes are expected to proceed expeditiously over the next few months, with permits likely to be issued this fall.

Construction of New Public Works Facility Continues

The City’s contractor continues work to renovate an existing City-owned building on D Street, adjacent to the City’s corporation yard, that will house the entire Public Works Department staff. Construction is expected to be complete in September or October. Existing Public Works staff will be relocated from current offices on Tata Lane, thereby freeing up additional office space for the City’s Development Services Department.

City Working to Determine Path Forward for New Recreation Center

The City is currently working to develop a plan for either the construction of a new Recreation Center or a significant renovation to the existing center. Due to the passage of Measure P, the City expects to have more than $8 million of funding reserved for this project by the end of FY 18-19. The City is currently investigating a potential debt issue, and is also considering potential State grant funding applications to enable the construction of a new facility, as envisioned when Measure P was approved by the voters in 2016. The City hopes to develop a definitive plan by the end of 2019, and proceed with the design phase in 2020.

Contemplating Potential New Revenue Sources

In conjunction with the development of the FY 19-20 budget and the new 5-year capital replacement / improvement plan, the City will be considering the need for and viability of several potential new revenue sources. Ultimately, the City Council may select one or two potential new revenue sources and seek voter approval in 2020. Potential ideas that will be evaluated in the coming months include: a new tax on vacant properties, a VHR tax, an increase in the snow parcel fee, an increase in the transient occupancy tax rate, an increase in the sales tax rate, a real estate transfer tax, a wildfire preparedness fee, and others.

Lime Scooters Deployed

With a recent formal agreement, the City has authorized the deployment of up to 550 Lime electric scooters in South Lake Tahoe this summer. The new agreement does not include dockless bicycles. The key provisions of the new agreement require riders of Lime scooters to be 18 years or older, require Lime to work with the City to implement geo-fencing in high pedestrian use areas, and require a 5 cent per trip fee to be remitted to the City. The City is concerned about the number of underage riders and the proliferation of Lime scooter use in Heavenly Village, and is currently working with Lime to use industry technology to more effectively address these issues.

US 50 SSCRP – Outreach to Rocky Point Neighborhood

The City continues to work with Tahoe Transportation District and TRPA to reach out to members of the Rocky Point neighborhood most affected by the US 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project. A recent community meeting was attended by approximately 20 Rocky Point residents. The City will be working to schedule additional, more focused sessions with the Rocky Point neighborhood to better understand their concerns, solicit input on desired community improvements, and assist in their understanding of the future right-of-way acquisition process.

Ski Run Park

The City is working with businesses and residents on Ski Run Blvd to acquire a vacant parcel and develop a neighborhood park in this area. Potential grant funding sources are currently being evaluated, and a potential grant application will be presented to City Council in the coming months.

Solar Power Initiatives

New solar panels will soon be installed on the roofs of hangar buildings at the Lake Tahoe Airport, furthering the City’s renewable energy goals, generating additional lease revenue, and reducing the City’s utility costs in the coming years. Additionally, the City is partnering with the SEED Fund to evaluate the feasibility of solar panel installation on other City facilities in the next year.

New Restrooms Coming to Campground By The Lake

New, pre-fabricated restroom buildings have been ordered, and will be installed at the Campground By The Lake in September. The new restrooms will replace old and deteriorating restroom facilities.

Additional Police Officers

City Council recently authorized the hiring of two additional Police Officers in the SLT PD in an effort to improve response times, improve patrol coverage, enhance officer safety, reduce overtime expense, and boost officer morale. The SLT PD is understaffed, and often operates with multiple vacant positions. The City will be working to identify sufficient funding in the annual budget to add more Police Officers in the future. On a typical day, SLT PD will have only 3 or 4 sworn patrol officers covering the entire City.

Did you know?

According to the US Census Bureau (2017 data), there are a total of 17,714 total housing units in the City of South Lake Tahoe. A total of 8,882 of these housing units are occupied (almost exactly 50%), with 4,086 occupied by the owner and 4,796 occupied by a long-term renter. The remaining 8,832 housing units are considered vacant, with more than 80% of the vacant units used exclusively as a second home (not rented long-term or as a vacation rental).

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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