City Council approves appeal, stops Al Tahoe hotel project

Laney Griffo

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — City Council on Tuesday evening approved an appeal and reversed a planning commission decision to grant a permit for a new hotel in a residential neighborhood.

The planning commission had approved a special use permit to convert an existing legal non-conforming 3,300-square foot commercial building, located at 839 Tallac Avenue in the Al Tahoe neighborhood, to four tourist accommodation units.

Mikee Gerland, of Kore Design, submitted the application on behalf of the applicant Deborah Barton who owns the property. Barton has been responsible for flipping many properties in South Lake Tahoe and using them as affordable housing.

When deciding what to do with the property, which is currently a dilapidated storage facility, Gerland and Barton considered multi-family affordable housing units. However, because of the parking requirement of two spots per unit, they didn’t think the property had enough room.

So they went with two permanent residences and four tourist accommodation units which they said would be used for traveling employees, such as nurses.

Residents in the neighborhood spoke out against the plan and Tahoe Neighborhoods Group filed an appeal.

During the appeal hearing on Tuesday night, Peggy Bourland, on behalf of the appellant, said the project was injurious to the neighborhood.

During public comment, several people spoke in favor of Barton and the project. However, a petition to overturn the decision that had more than 300 signatures swayed the council’s decision.

“It’s a good project in the wrong place,” Councilmember John Friedrich said.

Mayor Tamara Wallace said she was in support of the project but had to listen to the will of the people.

“I’m disturbed by the attitude of this neighborhood, that they’d rather have a dilapidated building than see this project move forward,” Wallace said.

The council voted unanimously to overturn the planning commission’s decision.

The 3,300-square foot commercial building on Tallac Avenue in the Al Tahoe neighborhood. (Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune)

Council also voted to put the final nail in the coffin of Perfect Union SLT. After facing construction delays due to COVID-19 and internal disputes, Perfect Union SLT did not open for business within the required time.

During its June 1 meeting, council voted 4-0 (with Councilmember Cody Bass recused) to end the development agreement with Perfect Union SLT.

The planning commission voted to revoke their Cannabis Use Permit and Perfect Union SLT appealed the commission’s decision.

Wallace, who voted with the majority on June 1, said she’d spent a lot of time thinking about the situation. She said the city has offered leniency for other late construction projects. She added that the capitalist side of her thought there was no risk to the city to granting them an extension and letting the public decide if they will fail or succeed.

However, Mayor Pro Temp Devin Middlebrook, and Councilmembers Cristi Creegan and Freidrich said they were not swayed by Perfect Union SLT’s arguments and they voted 3-1 to uphold the commission’s decision.

Perfect Union SLT told the council it will be moving forward with litigation against the city.

The council also accepted a parcel donation from Friends of Ski Run. The group purchased a half-acre property which was owned by Safeway.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.