BID to be dissolved |

BID to be dissolved

Susan Wood

With humility filling the air, the South Lake Tahoe City Council voted Tuesday to disband the controversial business improvement district that aimed to fund marketing efforts.

After a long, arduous venture that started long before its February creation, the city-spawned Tourism Promotion Business Improvement District – which last summer charged citywide businesses $30 to $3,000 annually – brought out a packed house of 45 people in council chambers.

BID Chairwoman Julie Threewit, speaking for the 11-member board, came before the panel to ask that the district be disbanded and encourage the council to instead support two other BIDs in the hopper.

Threewit asked the city to learn from the experience, as the process sparked a bitter debate, divided the community and brought about a lawsuit against the city that stymied the board in moving forward with its original task – to promote the town.

“Our body felt our hands were tied,” she said.

She stressed that the majority of the board supported finding a way to subsidize marketing in some fashion. The board’s recommendations were unanimously approved at its meeting last week. And the council abided its wishes.

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n It recommends: The city support the BID that the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association is considering to subsidize marketing efforts – especially since the city recommends pulling its support for the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority in the next budget year.

n It also wants another BID formed that would fund Highway 50 infrastructure improvements, but no formal group has been created to spearhead that effort. The city is exploring creating a BID to build revenue for that effort once the $45 million, multi-agency curb-and-gutter program is installed between Trout Creek and the “Y.”

In the end, the council voted unanimously to dissolve the BID, help lodging with its proposed BID and step up efforts to fund the maintenance of the major highway improvements.

The action to disband prompted Mayor Kathay Lovell to call for “a time of healing” and South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Duane Wallace to apologize to the community because the concept was brought forth by the business group. To illustrate his point, he quoted Abraham Lincoln – “A house divided cannot stand.”

“We don’t apologize for trying to make something happen,” he said, and former Mayor Tom Davis told the panel he agreed.

“The process started out on the wrong foot. More citizens opposed the process than many people realized,” said BID board member John Cefalu, one of three plaintiffs who legally challenged the BID.

“We make no apologies in the way we had to get someone’s attention with the litigation,” he said.

Another plaintiff, Patrick Martin, said their attorney Dale Sare will have a meeting with the 30 people who funded the lawsuit to negotiate the next move with the city.

Through the guidance of City Attorney Catherine DiCamillo, the council decided Tuesday to adopt a resolution of intent to legally “dis-establish” the BID, set a public hearing within 20 to 30 days, adopt an ordinance on the matter and refund the money. There’s now $235,000 in the coffers, with that amount expected to go up. DiCamillo estimated the process would be complete in January.