Business’s gripes with city grow
June 7, 2007
South Lake Tahoe business owners Brenda and Rick Rogers have pledged to take on City Hall over the operation of their sport touring and retail company, High Sierra Adventure Sports.
Their battle with the city started when they used a canoe on a vehicle to promote their business at their former Harrison Avenue location – thus violating the city’s contentious temporary sign ordinance. Their grievances have since become more complex and multi-faceted, with the couple ready to hire an attorney and possibly take legal action against the city. And they’re vowing to close their South Lake Tahoe location and move to Nevada.
Since then, the sign issue has been corrected.
But the dispute continued at their new location on Lake Tahoe Boulevard near Tahoe Keys Boulevard, where they put out the sporting equipment to catch motorists’ attention.
The only problem – it also captured the eyes of the city Planning Department and allegedly others who made complaints about the sports equipment and clothing. Staff made phone calls and sent letters to warn the couple of a Tahoe Regional Planning Agency regulation adopted by the city that prohibits it run an outdoor amusement business without a special use permit. But that’s a hefty expense that could add up to almost $10,000.
In the meantime, the couple filed for an appeal on the regulation – only to lose with the city Planning Commission. The City Council heard the item on Tuesday and lost again when the panel upheld the commission’s ruling.
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But Rogers said she’s not done. She’s vowed to hire an attorney and has expanded her grievances beyond the actual code.
Since the city posted the case’s supporting documents on its Web site to correspond with the council meeting packet, Rogers considered the act “an invasion of privacy” when she saw a posted check of her business paying for the appeal filing.
“We had to close down our checking account. It was a horrible thing for them to do,” she said, adding the “loss of business” as more grounds for a legal grievance.
She also accused the city of breaking its own rules by having someone other than City Manager Dave Jinkens preside over the hearing, thus nullifying the process.
But City Attorney Catherine DiCamillo quickly countered by dictating city manager’s administrative policies stating: “the city manager may designate any legally qualified city employee to perform such functions.”
Their accusation of feeling singled out as a business trying to make it in the city, DiCamillo claimed the operator is “not treated any differently than anybody else.”
With the violation, the violation was referred to DiCamillo’s legal office. She wants the business to file for a special use permit.
“As a business here, I want to see them do well,” she said.
The couple has indicated they plan to shut down the city location and move the business to Nevada, where it already operates a Roundhill Square site.