Tahoe Valley area plan gets TRPA blessing
Imagine a new town core at South Lake Tahoe's west end, set with a verdant open greenbelt in its center for visitors and residents, with a mix of restaurants, retail and entertainment venues within walking distance. That's the vision the recently approved Tahoe Valley Area Plan paints for the future of the "Y" and something City Planning Manger John Hitchcock told the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency governing board when it approved the plan on Wednesday. One overall goal for the community includes turning the area into a revitalized town center catering to the locals while still encouraging tourists to visit. According to the area plan, the "Y" intersection would include a mixed-used commercial and event core to "create a hub for community gathering and special events." It also opens up opportunity for affordable housing development. A lot of the tourist population tends to gravitate toward the shopping centers at Heavenly Village and Ski Run Boulevard as well as Stateline, Nev. Hitchcock said it promotes sustainability, transit parking, shared parking, promotes a mountain town identity, and environmental development. Tahoe Valley remains one of South Lake Tahoe's retail hubs bordered on three sides by residential neighborhoods. It includes 337 acres around the "Y" intersection, bounded by 10th Street to the north, E Street to the South, Truckee Drive to the east, and Julie Lane to the west. Affordable housing and healthcare hub Affordable housing would be promoted by allowing secondary units on smaller parcels and possible development of a multi-residential unit on an empty parcel. Betty "B" Gorman, executive director of Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce, called the affordable housing component a valuable element. "We are looking at concept of encouraging a new type workforce and affordable housing will be an issue," Gorman said at the TRPA meeting. "The idea of really revitalizing the west end of town is really badly needed." The plan also encourages consolidation of the Barton Health facilities into a master campus, development of work/live units in Tahoe Valley's industrial area and allowance for secondary residential units on properties under one acre. "We created a healthcare district to encourage Barton to consolidate into one campus and allow for more bikeable, walkable access," Hitchcock said. The plan also plays into TRPA goals of handing the city more delegation for permit approvals. Environmental redevelopment has a large focus on the Tahoe Valley Greenbelt along with restoration of stream environment zones, important elements in the Tahoe-Truckee watershed. Hitchcock said the city will offer incentives to businesses, including making 15,000 square feet of commercial floor area community pool to help with redevelopment. The Tahoe Valley Greenbelt, the plan's environmental crown jewel transforms a hard-to-walk area into an accessible, almost urban-like pedestrian-bicycle link connecting neighborhoods to the commercial core while retaining a rustic, scenic view. TRPA Executive Director Joanne Marchetta called an important step forward. "We look forward to seeing this comprehensive vision for one of our most visible gateways at Tahoe carried out for the benefit of our community, environment, and economy," Marchetta stated in a news release. The area plan has been 18 months in the making, hammered out of the bones of an abandoned plan the city conducted in the mid-1990s and refined. South Lake Tahoe Mayor Hal Cole, who sits on the TRPA governing board, said the initial plan developed back in the 1990s cost nearly $1 million but never got anywhere. "I'm pleased in some respect that it took some time because it's much better than what was originally prepared," Cole said.