Tahoe Conservancy approves asset lands changes
March 21, 2014
The California Tahoe Conservancy approved a string of changes to its asset lands program and agreed to mark 17 of the asset lands lots for potential future sale or transfer on Thursday.
Six lots are near the “Y” intersection in South Lake Tahoe. Nine are along U.S. 50 in Meyers and two are in Kings Beach. All are urban properties within town center boundaries in pending area plans.
The idea is that the sale of the high-capability, non-environmentally sensitive lots could help fulfill area plan objectives.
No sales are certain. To be sold, lots would have to go through a two-step process that includes both pre-sale-activity and final-sale approvals from the conservancy’s board of directors.
“One reason why we are not coming today with authorizations for pre-sale is these area plans aren’t done. We will wait until they are,” said Patrick Wright, director of Tahoe Conservancy.
“If and only if sales would help facilitate the goals of the area plan will we sell them. If the Meyers community decides that they should remain open space, they’ll remain open space.”
There are 331 lots identified as eligible for the asset lands program. Only the 17 lots are being marked for potential sale. There are no plans to sell the rest, including 267 residential lots in neighborhoods.
Tahoe Conservancy has decided not to sell any of its Lyons Ranch East land. That land was bought to protect the Upper Truckee River watershed but the purchase included some high-capability adjacent lands that were initially planned to be sold off, but have come to be recognized for their open space value.
“We’re looking at potentially these 17 parcels (in area plan town center boundaries) and the rest are on hold. That’s a big deal,” said El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago, a member of the conservancy’s board.
Lots identified in the asset lands program are not among the 4,557 environmentally-sensitive lots Tahoe Conservancy has bought over the last two decades.
Many of the asset lands lots are developable land acquired incidentally as part of all-or-nothing deals with property owners to acquire environmentally sensitive land in other areas. Some were acquired for now-defunct public projects, including a highway visitor center in Meyers.
Other eligibility criteria for the asset lands program include lands where a conservation easement would be more cost-effective than full-ownership; land along the former Highway 50 right-of-way that can support the South Tahoe Greenway bike trail; and developable land bought to acquire land coverage for mitigation purposes, bike trails or other development projects.
Following a recommendation by Tahoe Vista resident Ellie Waller, the Tahoe Conservancy board agreed to require a tour by the board of any asset lands lot before it is authorized for pre-sale activities. That tour would be open to the public.
Board members also agreed to identify the development capability of asset lands lots before they are authorized for sale as well as the original funding source used to purchase them.
“I like the tour idea,” said Tom Davis, a member of the conservancy board and the South Lake Tahoe City Council. “It’s a good point not only for us, but the taxpayers.”
Other changes to the asset lands program include notification of property owners in a larger 500-foot area around targeted lots before any pre-sale activities or final sales are approved.
Tahoe Conservancy’s board authorized up to $120,000 for activities to potentially acquire the Alta Mira property. The 0.8-acre site and 5,500-square-foot building are along the lake front on Lake Tahoe Boulevard, east of Lakeview Commons.
Staff member Bruce Eisner estimates a third of the amount or less will actually be needed to bring a proposed acquisition before the board for consideration in May or July. Tahoe Conservancy paid $25,000 for an 18-month option to buy the property. That took effect in December 2012 and expires this June.
The California State Lands Commission has agreed to contribute up to $500,000 for a potential purchase that would require the owner to demolish the on-site building. Several commercial tenants would have to be relocated.