During the week of June 18 there will be a series of community meetings where Incline Village and Crystal Bay property owners and residents will have an opportunity to contribute their ideas for the vision of our community into the next decade and beyond. The meetings will be broken into sessions where a particular subject of interest such as recreation, real estate and other topics will be discussed in depth.
The concept for these meetings is similar to the Incline Vision planning sessions where the idea for the roundabout at the intersection of Highways 431 and 28 was first introduced along with a host of other concepts for the community. This is about as close as it gets to pure democracy and the town meeting concept in the United States. Everyone will have an opportunity to present ideas in an open forum for consideration and possible future implementation.
This column today is meant to be thought-provoking and not advocating any one particular position or point of view. The residents of Incline Village and Crystal Bay will be best served by an open discussion and debate because many ideas (such as where to best locate the East Shore Express Shuttle Bus) begin with one concept that many find objectionable and morph into a positive and successful venture over time.
If the TRPA is going to revise its regulations and permit individual communities to modify zoning, density and height restrictions then it makes sense to take a look at the IV/CB area and decide where if anyplace these changes might be beneficial. For a very long time developers have had their eye on the Southwood Boulevard corridor as a place ripe for redevelopment and renewal. The proximity of the post office and Village Shopping Center create a natural magnet for the ‘year round residential population.
But one of the big problems is that with a three-story height restriction and the TRPA limitations on land coverage it is difficult to tear down and redevelop the land that contains the most blighted and aging structures. Could the Southwood Boulevard corridor be revitalized in a way that creates a positive impact on the community? Will it require building 5 to 8 story condo buildings to make the developments economically viable? Can the architecture of taller structures be manifested in a way that fits into the mountain environment and is pleasing and unobtrusive?
What’s the best way to clean up and make use of the old abandoned gas station properties at opposite ends of the village? Will the owners of these properties take action or will it require an active effort on the part of members of the community to spur changes?
There is a huge difference between Tahoe Charm and decrepit. Eliminate the properties that have Tahoe Charm and you lose one of the major attractions for visitors. If you don’t clearly think through the plans and financing for redevelopment, you end up with a hole in the ground and a lot of long time family businesses getting destroyed, witness the failed convention center project at South Lake Tahoe. Build it and they will come is not always true, as two different owners of the Ritz-Carlton at Northstar have discovered. It is very difficult for any business to succeed in a vacation resort area, especially one like Tahoe that has a significant number of visitors only 12 weeks each year.
Property owners will want to consider how any development may impact them, either directly or indirectly. If we create a master plan designed to draw thousands more visitors each week to Incline Village and Crystal Bay but we don’t improve mass transit, how bad will the air pollution and traffic jams be on the existing roadways? The law of unintended consequnces is sure to come into play because there are so many unknowns that can’t be predicted. Planning for the future while improving lake clarity is a balancing act that will require creative problem solving, changes in some current practices and sensitivity to the Tahoe environment so we don’t take several steps backward. We have the talent and brain power locally to create a great vision for the future of Incline Village and Crystal Bay. Let’s all come together to share ideas, inspire new plans and discuss and debate what we want our community to look like in the future.
— Don Kanare is a Realtor at RE/MAX Premier Properties. Read his blog and weekly stats on his website at www.InsideIncline.com.