The South Lake Tahoe City Council opted Tuesday to improve enforcement of its municipal codes on outdoor merchandise displays, rather than make any changes to them.
Violators can expect to see citations within two weeks of a warning as the city’s code enforcement officers move from complaint-driven to proactive enforcement.
The decision to boost enforcement follows a series of public workshops and surveys on outdoor display regulations.
“We’ve all talked about the need to do that, to make it clear, swift and equal,” said Councilwoman Angela Swanson.
The city of South Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency both have regulations for outdoor displays. TRPA does not enforce its rules and the city has only sporadically enforced its rules, creating significant confusion and frustration, Director of Development Services Hilary Roverud said.
“The majority of displays you see in town today are not consistent with city or TRPA code,” Roverud said.
South Lake Tahoe lets businesses display merchandise within 16 square feet of allowable “adornment” space at store entrances as long as it doesn’t impede vehicle or pedestrian traffic or encroach into public right-of-way.
The city also allows businesses to apply for permits that temporarily allow larger outdoor displays for sidewalk sales, grand openings, fundraisers or other special events.
TRPA allows outdoor merchandise displays and storage for certain types of businesses and land uses, including building materials and hardware, nurseries, outdoor retail sales and amusements, sales lots and recreation.
In coming weeks, city officials will approach TRPA to see if it will possibly loosen outdoor display restrictions for some sorts of businesses, particularly recreation. It also will seek clarification on rules related to outdoor dining and the extent to which it is allowed.
South Lake Tahoe City Council members also approved a series of mid-year budget adjustments Tuesday, including a $739,161 increase in budgeted general fund revenues and a $437,555 increase in expenditures. The city’s largest revenue sources — sales taxes, property taxes and hotel bed taxes — all continue to grow slowly, said Financial Services Manager Debbie McIntyre.
Approved expenditure changes include $10,000 for election costs for the paid-parking ballot measure; $25,000 to upgrade council chambers and its broadcast equipment; $42,000 for computer server upgrades; $47,000 for additional contract labor; $50,000 for ice arena repairs; $52,000 for additional utility costs; $69,000 for two part-time dispatchers using money from recently increased 911 fees; and $125,402 for new inspector and maintenance positions in public works.
Other approved changes include the purchase of two new police vehicles, the hiring of an additional permit center technician and the allocation of $250,000 for street repairs.
In other business, the City Council approved:
• Spending up to $1,025 for Mayor Pro Tem Brooke Laine to travel to Park City, Utah, on a fact-finding trip with the TahoeChamber. Councilwoman JoAnn Conner was the only vote against the expenditure. “I just can’t understand how we can raise fees on our citizens, refuse to give breaks to senior citizens, then give money to council members to travel,” Conner said. “We already have lots of ideas for how to improve Tahoe. The problem is always money.”
• Spending up to $60,654 to bring the city’s fire engine/ladder truck into compliance with industry “tilt” standards by removing its pump, water tank and hose bed. The city bought the new custom-built vehicle for just over $1 million.
• A general plan amendment for Edgewood Companies, modifying allowed land uses on its property along Stateline Avenue.
• The first reading of an ordinance to overhaul, streamline and simplify the city’s purchasing policies and bidding procedures.