City Council approves fire marshal position, 1st reading of TCAP amendments

Laney Griffo

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The South Lake Tahoe City Council approved a Deputy Fire Chief/Fire Marshal position during its Tuesday meeting.

The creation of the position is in response to the Caldor Fire and the increasing risk of more frequent and intense wildfires.

The city previously had this position but it was eliminated during the 2008 recession. Fire Chief Clive Savacool is currently doing the role of Fire Marshal but for the size of South Lake Tahoe, he believes it really needs to be a full-time job.

The fire marshal will create and manage a community-wide plan on major wildfire risks, source and manage grants, and oversee community preparedness and response. It will also allow the city to create a Fire Prevention Bureau which would manage the fire department’s inspections, grants, defensible space programs, public education programs, community evacuation planning, and assist with the development of community programs such as FireWise and the Fire Safe Council.

The position will cost the city $213,035 to $253,428 which will be partially funded by Measure S funds.

After recently receiving favorable performance evaluations, the council approved 2% salary increases for City Manager Joe Irvin and City Attorney Heather Stroud.

Irvin’s new base salary will be $178,500, up from $175,000. Stroud’s new salary will be $176,256, up from $172,800.

The increase will be effective in the first payroll after amendment of the contract.

The council approved a first reading of amendments to the Tourist Core Area Plan which would include an expanded definition of industrial services and the addition of wholesale and distribution.

The new definition of industrial services include, “providing light industrial services to an associated retail commercial primary use while providing educational and/or demonstration opportunities to the public.”

During his presentation, John Hitchcock, planning manager used the example of the Cheesehead Factory in Wisconsin, in which guests can see how the cheeseheads are made.

Tahoe Wellness Center originally submitted a development application, which was the catalyst for this change.

The council approved the first reading 4-0 with Councilmember Cody Bass recused himself.

Also during the meeting, the council approved a contract with Lew Edwards Group to provide cannabis tax consulting services.

“The cannabis tax would be an excise tax on cannabis products and would eventually take the place of the community benefit fees provided under development agreements with the cannabis businesses. Establishing a cannabis tax would be more streamlined and efficient than keeping the development agreements in place indefinitely and would reduce the staff resources necessary to oversee and manage the development agreements including collection of the community benefit fee,” the agenda packet stated.

Lew Edwards Group will meet with the community and stakeholders to see the feasibility of a cannabis tax passing on a ballot. If the city decides to go through with tax, it would be voted on during the November 2022 election.

Finally, the council received a presentation from Ice Arena manager Michael Lewis. Tahoe Sports and Entertainment Group restructured management of the arena. While Lewis has worked at the arena for years, he has recently stepped into the leadership role.

He found that when guests were surveyed over the summer, many locals said they didn’t know the arena was there until they searched for indoor activities to get out of the smoke.

With that in mind, Lewis wants to reinvigorate the arena and get more people involved in the rink. He wants to expand programming which will include the addition of open skate hours, learn to skate events, local family nights and student nights. He also wants to restructure the cafe into a lounge that will allow the rink to be a hang-out space for the community.

The next city council meeting will be held , at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16.

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