KINGS BEACH, Calif. — The plan for a lakefront private K-12 school on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore is still afloat.
On Tuesday, the Placer County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted against an interim law that could have had major impacts on the proposal.
The vote comes while Tahoe Expedition Academy is in the process of purchasing a 1.4-acre property at 8200 North Lake Blvd. in Kings Beach that includes the Crown Motel, Falcon Lodge and the roadside portion of the Goldcrest Resort for the purpose of a new school campus.
“Whether a school on this property is the highest and best use of the property is a subjective decision for each of us to make, but even if we could all agree on it, this isn’t the way to address this,” said Jennifer Montgomery, District 5 supervisor for Placer County, at a special meeting Tuesday at the North Tahoe Event Center. “This has been a bad process.”
That sentiment was echoed by a majority of the roughly 50 members of the public who spoke at the hearing.
“May I suggest your timing is atrocious and terribly insensitive,” said Randy Hill, a Tahoe Truckee Unified School District board of trustee. “It’s gross mismanagement at best and shocking abuse of power at worst. Neither is acceptable.”
A few, however, disagreed.
“The proposed TEA school on lakefront property may be a good thing, but at this point in time, all the facts need to be out there and all the many questions answered,” said Barbara Monti, of Kings Beach. “… I support Placer County’s proposed ordinance to give us 45 days to review this project.”
County staff had recommended the 45-day interim law — with extensions available in the future — on the grounds that certain currently allowed uses may be incompatible with future town center areas amid the Tahoe Basin Community Plan update process.
“Visioning includes improving and expanding lodging accommodations as a way to help drive and improve (a) tourist-based economy and foster sustainable communities,” explained Paul Thompson, assistant director for Placer County’s Community Development Resource Agency, to the board of supervisors.
Staff also presented results from a study on the value of the tourism industry for North Lake Tahoe.
“It is concerning to me that we seem to be focused on this from a revenue-generation standpoint,” said Kirk Uhler, vice chair and District 4 supervisor. “… While I am concerned about it, it is not the obligation of a private property owner to generate revenue for local government. That’s not why they’re in business.”
This drew applause from many of the approximately 200 meeting attendees.
“I’m thankful for the county board for reaffirming our property rights, and I’m excited to see the process of the school unfold,” said Dave Ferrari, co-owner of the Crown, shortly after Tuesday’s vote.
TEA aims to build a 15-classroom campus with a performing arts center and waterfront interpretation center, among other features, at the site.
The academy has been looking for property for more than a year after outgrowing the facility it rents at 8651 Speckled Ave., according to past reports. Since opening in 2011, the school has gone from 74 students to 134.
The school has submitted an application for design review by the county and expects to hear back in about three weeks, said DC Larrabee, co-director of TEA.
As part of the review process, items such as traffic circulation and parking and design features will be examined. A change in property use will also need to be approved by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency governing board.
Ideally, TEA would like to start building renovations this spring in order to have the campus ready for Sept. 1.
To date, TEA has raised $12 million for the project, which is expected to cover the cost of purchasing the land and remodeling.