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At Lake Level, November 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.

New Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem Appointed

The City Council has appointed member Jason Collin to serve as the next Mayor of South Lake Tahoe, with Tamara Wallace serving as the next Mayor Pro-Tem. Mayor Collin and Mayor Pro-Tem Wallace will serve in their new roles for 9 months until August 2020, at which time Council will again select a new Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem for the following 9-month period.

The City looks forward to Mayor Collin’s and Mayor Pro-Tem Wallace’s leadership, and extends its gratitude to former Mayor Brooke Laine for her outstanding service over the past year.

South Shore Region Housing Needs and Opportunities Report Released; Action Plan Under Development

The Tahoe Prosperity Center has taken a lead role in the region with regard to housing issues, and just recently released a new report entitled “South Shore Region – Housing Needs and Opportunities”. The report outlines the issues impacting the availability of affordable housing in the City of South Lake Tahoe and the South Shore region, and will be followed by the development of a formal “Action Plan” in the coming months.

The new report includes numerous findings that will inform policy makers, employers, and developers, and promote the development of effective strategies to address the region’s critical housing needs. Among the most significant findings in the “Housing Needs and Opportunities” report are the following:

  • A total of 2,085 new housing units are needed in the entire South Shore region to meet the existing needs of overcrowded households, in-commuters who would prefer to live locally, and to provide housing for unfilled jobs,
  • A total of 1,205 new housing units are estimated to be needed over the next 6 years to provide sufficient housing for soon-to-be-retiring employees and projected new jobs in the South Shore region,
  • Of the needed new housing units, it is projected that 38% should be units provided for ownership, and 62% as rental housing units,
  • Housing prices have been increasing at higher percentages than income, and a family would need an annual household income of $134,000 to afford the median priced home, or an annual household income of $111,000 to afford the median priced condominium or townhome, and
  • Rental vacancy rates have remained below 2% for the past several years, and rental rates are increasing while supply and quality are decreasing.

The City of South Lake Tahoe is a key sponsor of this effort, and will be heavily engaged in the development of the “Action Plan” in the coming months. The “Action Plan” is expected to identify strategies to address the needs outlined in the “Housing Needs and Opportunities” report, and potential recommendations may include subsidizing new housing construction, new housing loan programs, amendment of cumbersome development regulations, the promotion of additional rental housing opportunities, and more. The City looks forward to the recommendations in the “Action Plan”, which will likely become the roadmap for the City’s future housing initiatives.

To view and download a copy of the full report, please click here and scroll down to “Housing Reports and Resources”.

South Lake Tahoe Fire Department Coordinating Defensible Space Inspections

The South Lake Tahoe Fire Department continues to work with our partners in the Tahoe Basin on wildfire prevention and preparedness activities, and is participating in a new program offering free defensible space inspections by area Fire professionals. To schedule an inspection and recommendations on how to better prepare your property, please contact the Fire Department at 530-542-6160 or fireinfo@cityofslt.us.

Proposed Needle Peak Road Cell Tower Appeal Delayed Until January 14

With the mutual agreement of the City, the appellant, and Verizon, the appeal hearing for a proposed new monopine cell tower near the corner of Needle Peak Road and Ski Run Boulevard has been delayed until the January 14 City Council meeting.

At the City’s request and with the City’s support, Verizon continues to explore other alternative sites for a new cell tower. If an acceptable alternative location is identified, the appeal hearing may ultimately be cancelled. If an acceptable alternative location is not identified, the City Council will consider the appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision to approve the new cell tower at this location at the January 14 meeting (or later if the hearing is delayed again).

City Staff Gearing Up for Snow Removal Efforts

The Public Works Department recently took delivery of several pieces of brand new snow removal equipment, and City crews are actively preparing for the 2019 – 2020 winter season. The City has added three new grader / plows, one new blower, and a new specialty blower (to improve bicycle trail snow removal), and this new equipment will be in service this winter. City staff are also hard at work preparing existing older snow removal equipment for the upcoming winter season, and staffing plans are being refined to promote the highest quality, most responsive snow removal services. Additionally, three new full-time positions have been added to improve the City’s street maintenance and snow removal efforts.

All of these actions reflect a deliberate effort by City Council and City staff to focus on the City’s core services, and these investments are specifically aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the City’s snow removal services.

El Dorado County To Implement Vote Centers For March 2020 Election

The El Dorado County Elections Department will be implementing new “vote centers” for the March 2020 primary election, making it easier for voters to register to vote, cast your ballot in person, and conduct other business with the Elections Department.

The new “vote centers” will be open on weekends, up to 11 days before Election Day, with several locations planned around El Dorado County. In South Lake Tahoe, “vote centers” are planned for the Airport / City Hall and Lake Tahoe Community College, along with several “drop boxes” where ballots can be deposited prior to the March 2020 election. Voters will continue to have the ability to mail in ballots, and the new “vote centers’ are intended to provide a higher level of service in the future. For more information, please click here or call the Elections Department at 530-573-7955, extension 7480.

Council Nearing Adoption of Shared Mobility Device Ordinance

The City Council has held several discussions about shared mobility devices (i.e., electric scooters and other similar devices available on-demand via online platforms) in recent months, and is nearing adoption of a comprehensive new City ordinance to regulate these devices in South Lake Tahoe in the future.

The City seeks to strike the proper balance between public safety, convenience, and alternative transportation options for our community. As such, the City’s primary goals in developing the new ordinance are the prevention of underage riders, the protection of pedestrians in the heavily visited Heavenly Village area, and improved enforcement. Key provisions under consideration by City Council include the following:

  • A requirement for all shared mobility device companies to secure a City permit, and pay an annual permit fee per device deployed,
  • The use of permit fee revenues for enhanced enforcement activities by the South Lake Tahoe Police Department,
  • A total cap of 1000 devices to be deployed in the City, with no more than 500 per permitted company,
  • A maximum speed of 15 miles per hour for each device,
  • A prohibition on riders under the age of 18, with requirements to prohibit the deployment of more than one device at a time by an account holder,
  • A requirement for effective geo-fencing to prohibit riders from operating in the Heavenly Village area,
  • The implementation of a photo-enforcement program with $100 fines issued to the permitted company (who will then pass along the fine to the rider), and
  • Provisions for the periodic review of the permitted company’s compliance with permit requirements and potential revocation of permits.

City Council is scheduled to consider adoption of the new ordinance at its December 3 and January 14 meetings, and the new regulations would be effective in May 2020

City Seeking Nearly $10 Million of Grant Funding for Beneficial Storm Water Management Projects

City Council recently authorized grant applications for four beneficial storm water management projects in South Lake Tahoe, and the City is optimistic that nearly $10 million will be awarded to the City for these projects over the next few years. Authorized project applications include the following:

  • $4 million for the Tahoe Valley Greenbelt and Storm Water Improvement Project,
  • $1.3 million for the Ruby Way / Overlook Court Drainage and Erosion Control Project,
  • $1.1 million for the Barton Neighborhood Urban Storm Water Treatment Project, and
  • $4.7 million for the Upper Bijou Creek Watershed Restoration Project.

These 4 projects have a total estimated cost of $11.1 million, with $9.99 million requested from Proposition 68 funding. The City’s combined local match is $1.11 million, and these funds will be included in the General Fund budget over the next few years.

Two Significant Affordable Housing Projects In Early Planning Stages

The City is currently working with other regional partners on two significant affordable housing projects in South Lake Tahoe that are in very early planning stages.

One project, led by the State of California through the California Tahoe Conservancy, involves the potential construction of 300 or more new affordable, multi-family housing units on State-owned land along Lake Tahoe Boulevard near South Tahoe High School. The site has been identified by the State of California as a high priority site, and several regional partners, including the City, are working collaboratively on this project.

The second project involves the potential construction of 75 or more new affordable, multi-family housing units on privately owned land near the intersection of Pioneer Trail and Ski Run Boulevard. The City has executed a Memorandum of Understanding with the developer and the Tahoe Transportation District for this project, and is currently working to amend the Tourist Core Area Plan to maximize the number of affordable units that can be constructed on the site.

Work continues by the various regional partners on both projects, and the City hopes to see both projects move forward expeditiously in the coming months. Construction of the planned units is still likely at least 2 years or more away, however, the addition of these units will likely make a significant difference in meeting the community’s housing needs.

Firefighter Recruitment Continues, Fire Station 2 Expected to Re-Open in Early 2020

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!

Fire Chief Search Continues

The City’s search for a new Fire Chief continues after the recently-appointed Fire Chief ultimately decided not to accept the position, citing family reasons. The City will be enlisting the assistance of a qualified search firm in the coming weeks, and hopes to select a new Fire Chief by spring 2020. In the meantime, Interim Fire Chief Bruce Martin will continue to serve the City, and the City is fortunate to have his leadership.

Additional Cannabis Permits Nearing Approval

City Council recently took the first of two steps to authorize two new retail cannabis businesses in South Lake Tahoe, with final approval of Embarc Tahoe and Cannablue scheduled for consideration at the December 3 City Council meeting. Both businesses have demonstrated compliance with applicable State and City regulations, and have committed to provide a 6% community benefit fee to the City, in addition to other planned charitable activities.

The Planning Commission is also set to review two additional cannabis businesses (A Perfect Union and Tahoe Green), and City Council is expected to consider approval of these two businesses in December and January.

New Council Meeting Schedule Approved, Meetings Now 2nd Tuesday of Each Month at 9 am

In an effort to promote greater efficiency, better focus the City’s efforts on Council priorities, and dedicate more staff time toward the achievement of larger and/or long-term goals, the City Council meeting schedule will change beginning in January 2020. The City Council will now meet on the second Tuesday of every month to conduct regular business, with the meetings beginning at 9 am in Council Chambers in City Hall at the Lake Tahoe Airport.

The City Council will also meet on the fourth Tuesday of February, April, June, August, and September, with these meetings specifically focused on Council vision, strategic planning, budget and long-term capital planning, and relationship building. These meetings will also begin at 9 am in the Council Chambers. Additional special meetings will be scheduled, with proper public notice, as needed or desired during the year.

The first regular meeting under the new schedule will be held on Tuesday, January 14 at 9 am. The monthly meetings will also now include two public comment periods, one at the beginning and one at the end of each meeting, in order to maximize the public’s opportunity to comment on items not on the published meeting agenda. City Council will continue to allow public comment on specific agenda items as they are heard during the regular meeting agenda.

Wreaths Across America Ceremony Set for December 14

The Lake Tahoe Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution will sponsor the very first “Wreaths Across America” ceremony to be held in the Tahoe Basin. Currently, the ceremony takes place at over 1,600 national cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries, local cemeteries with veteran burials, veterans’ monuments, and on ships at sea.

The South Lake Tahoe ceremony will begin at 9 am on Saturday, December 14 (snow or shine) at the Happy Homestead Cemetery located at 1261 Johnson Boulevard in South Lake Tahoe. The ceremony begins at precisely the same time as all other “Wreaths Across America” ceremonies, is free to the public, and is expected to last for approximately 45 minutes. For more information, please contact local DAR Vice Regent, Rosemary Manning, at rosemarymanning@gmail.com.

Did you know?

The total taxable value of all property in the City of South Lake Tahoe is approximately $4.56 billion. The City’s total annual property tax revenues are approximately $8.1 million, or approximately 17.7 cents per $100 of taxable property value. For example, for a home valued at $400,000, the City receives a total of approximately $708 per year to fund essential City services, with the balance of the owner’s annual property tax payment distributed to El Dorado County, the Lake Tahoe Unified School District, and Lake Tahoe Community College.

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"