Bye bye BID |

Bye bye BID

Susan Wood

Shaking hands and appearing to have shed a weight off their shoulders, board members of a South Lake Tahoe tourism marketing group voted to disband at their meeting Tuesday night.

The board of the controversial Tourism Promotion Business Improvement District unanimously decided to take its request to the South Lake Tahoe City Council, and ask the city to return the tax money already collected from businesses. It also wants the city to form two other business improvement districts.

“I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to work with all of you,” Chairwoman Julie Threewit said upon adjourning its last meeting.

The council formed the BID in February to fund marketing efforts to compensate for lost subsidies to the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce and Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority amounting to $753,000 in a two-year period. The process and formation stirred the community and brought a lawsuit. Only the city can dissolve the BID.

“I’m inclined to think they put some thought into this. As unfortunate and painstaking as it was, I think they’ve come up with a solution and recommendations that are noteworthy. I look forward to them coming before the council,” Mayor Kathay Lovell said Tuesday night.

— In addition to dissolving the BID and returning the money imposed on companies as an additional fee to their annual business license renewals, the board also requests the local government support and encourage a different marketing-related business improvement district. The South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association has considered forming its own BID by October to pay for marketing efforts. It intends to take the $1.1 million collected annually from guests through a $1.50 per room, per night auxiliary tax to fund the chamber and LTVA – the South Shore’s two marketing arms. Board member Pat Ronan, who attended the BID meeting, said lodging may vote on the matter as early as January.

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City Attorney Catherine DiCamillo said lodging will “need the City Council to enact and adopt it.”

— Moreover, the board will ask the city to pursue a business improvement district on Highway 50 to pay for maintenance on street improvements earmarked under a $36 million curb-and-gutter project on Highway 50 that Caltrans and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency have been hashing out. The city has verbally pledged support of the maintenance once TRPA secures the construction funding, but the local government awaits a plan.

Board member Pradip Patel, who runs the Super 8 Motel, said he was pleased with the outcome, adding he felt relieved by the consensus as Dr. Patrick Martin smiled and looked on. Not all the board members have seen eye-to-eye on matters of representation and how to spend the approximately $280,000 collected in the first year. The BID tax ranges from $30 to $3,000 a year. Lodging was exempt from contributing the first year.

From that, some meetings have resulted in terse discussions.

The legal challenge of the BID was brought forth by Martin and fellow board member John Cefalu, along with Lou Pierini, who also was a candidate for El Dorado County supervisor in Tuesday’s election.

After the meeting, Martin said the lawsuit against the city challenging its formation could be dropped “depending on what the city does.”

“The bottom line is, this is huge. We’ve taken a giant step forward,” he said.

An announcement on the BID will probably be made during the public comment session of the City Council meeting Nov. 15. The matter may make the agenda of the City Council’s one meeting in the following month scheduled for Dec. 13.

City Councilman Ted Long said he was shocked to hear the news but “not particularly disappointed.”

“In a way, it’s not a bad decision. The reality is, the BID may need to be more focused so the people affected feel more included,” Long said.