EDITOR’S NOTE: In an effort to bring light to the issue explained in the My Turn below in lieu of rumors around town, the Sierra Sun chose to publish this My Turn column in today’s paper in place of Managing Editor Kevin MacMillan’s bi-weekly column, which will return at month’s end. Further, look for a news story regarding this issue in Friday’s print edition of the Sierra Sun.
To our neighbors and friends — our family has owned the Crown Motel for nearly 70 years, and for 58 of those years, we have lived at the motel and managed our business. We are a family of five siblings having lost our brother, Bennie, nearly 20 years ago. Currently, brother Dave and sister Marilyn manage the Crown.
Last year we received an unsolicited offer from Tahoe Expedition Academy (TEA), a private K-12 school, to buy a portion of our property.
TEA made a fair offer and we are confident that they will be very good neighbors. In addition, the school has an inspiring vision around environmental stewardship that we really think is positive and very good for our community. Due to agreements around confidentiality, we were not able to share news of this pending sale with anyone until recently.
We verified with both TRPA and Placer County that a school is an allowed use within the Kings Beach Community Plan Area. It is. In fact, this use has been allowed since 1996.
Our family is excited by the opportunity of seeing our property turned into a school. We are in escrow.
As a result of Placer County staff action, Placer County has decided to review the project at the next Board of Supervisors meeting. The decision on the table is to enact an “interim urgency ordinance” prohibiting certain uses.
This ordinance effectively eliminates many formerly allowed uses including schools, churches, childcare facilities and single family homes within the Kings Beach plan area. This is an unprecedented approach to prevent a project from moving forward before they have even submitted a formal application.
Placer County staff informed us that they think the school, even though an allowed use, may not be the best use of our property. The Area Plan clearly states — and has for 18 years — that a school is an allowed use. This use is something that has been reaffirmed numerous times including the most recent Community Plan update workshops.
One of the founding principles of our country is the freedom of speech and private property rights. We are only weeks away from closing our sale and the County wants to consider a change in use that has been in place for 18 years. Does this sound legitimate to you? We think this is wrong.
In 1996, we began exploring the redevelopment of our aging property. When TRPA came out with the Community Enhancement Program (CEP), we eagerly moved forward to plan a redevelopment project.
Unfortunately, as the economy tanked, our ability to move forward was seriously curtailed. Subsequent to that time we have continued to maintain and operate the Crown (and our other properties) while participating in multiple negotiations with a variety of potential buyers/partners, all to no avail.
TEA is ready to invest millions of dollars on planning, construction and build-out into Kings Beach over the coming years. In addition, we are retaining 12-lakefront units, which will continue to contribute TOT taxes.
Let’s support education and private property rights. TEA is ready to invest in Kings Beach. This investment is a huge win for our community. We should feel proud that they have chosen our town to build their school.
On January 21st, the Board of Supervisors will review the request from staff to unilaterally amend the allowed uses of our property and the surrounding Community Plan areas to prevent the school from submitting an application for a building permit.
Placer County staff is basing this request on the claim that the presence of a school in the Kings Beach Downtown may “have the potential to impact the public health, safety and welfare of the residents of the North Lake Tahoe Region.”
We encourage you to attend the Board of Supervisors meeting at 3:10 p.m. on January 21st at the North Tahoe Event Center in Kings Beach and/or write our Supervisors to urge them to reject Placer County staff’s request to change Kings Beach Community Plan zoning.
Please send individual emails to the Board of Supervisors by Friday, January 17. Include your contact info (name, address, phone) and urge them to vote no for the request to change the zoning of the Community Plan and our property.
If you have any questions, please stop by the Crown to talk with us or call Dave at 530-208-8523.
This My Turn column was submitted to the Sierra Sun by Dave Ferrari, and is written on behalf of the entire Ferrari family. Dave may be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.