City Council authorizes agreement with Tesla, votes to hire CivicSpark Fellow

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Lake Tahoe City Council on Tuesday during a regular meeting unanimously passed a resolution to appropriate funds to hire a CivicSpark Fellow, prepare the greenhouse gas inventory and also supported a lease agreement with Tesla for vehicle charging stations.

In a 5-0 vote, council directed $31,000 from the ‘General Funds Undesignated Excess Reserves’ to hire a “CivicSpark Fellow” which is part of CivicWell, a Governor’s Initiative AmeriCorps program which serves local public agencies to take inventory of, and offer solutions for water resource management, housing and mobility issues while addressing climate change.

Sara Letton, sustainability coordinator for the city explained, “We are in the application process to be a site host, and we have not been selected yet. If we are selected, CivicSpark will post the job and potential fellows will apply. We will interview and make a recommendation to CivicSpark, who will make a job offer.”

Bill Sadler, CivicSpark program director, told the Tribune the CivicSpark Fellow is often a graduate, and added the agency benefits from the research done by the fellow while they gain career experience.

“The fellow would look at the city and where those greenhouse gasses are coming from, quantify greenhouse emission sources and provide recommendations to mitigate those issues,” Sadler said.

In other environmental efforts, three council members voted to offer a lease to Tesla to provide the community 12 fast chargers at 3069 Harrison Avenue.

The lease would provide the city a “modest revenue stream” of $3,600 monthly.

Mayor Cristi Creegan and Councilman John Friedrich recused themselves from the agenda item; Creegan for ownership in the area and Friedrich for ownership in Tesla stock.

Mayor Pro Tem Cody Bass asked if parking would be allowed for those not charging their vehicles and if snow removal would be the city’s responsibility. 

“Yes, snow removal would be,” said Letton. “There are a couple of spaces on the left side that can be temporary parking and the rest should be dedicated to charging so they would be available when those cars pull up.” 

“Section three of the lease initially there are eight dedicated stalls and four additional that would be available for temporary parking for 45 minutes but gives Tesla the option to convert those to dedicated stalls if need be,” City Attorney Heather Stroud added.

The five year lease has the option to extend for two additional five-year terms.

In another 3-0 vote, the Department of Public Works is authorized to apply for $4,055,000 through the RAISE program and match funding commitment of $811,000 to be used for the Johnson Boulevard Complete Streets Project.

Johnson Boulevard Complete Streets Project includes extensive community outreach, consideration for all modes of transportation according to Complete Streets Program Manager Jason Burke and Letton.

Burke presented council with the recommendations for the project which included narrowing the lanes, adding a bike path on the Bijou Park side, extending the shoulder to accommodate parking, introducing a high visibility crosswalk and encouraging businesses to consider opportunities for increasing on site parking. 

In other news, South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue Chief Jim Drennan presented the department’s annual report and highlighted that they would be growing the prevention bureau at a minimal cost by leveraging monies through Tahoe Resource Conservation District and California Tahoe Conservancy. Additionally, the department is expected to acquire a new communication system in March. 

“The third year of the Fire Prevention Bureau marked the second season for the Defensible Space Program,” according to the annual report. Drennan also explained more during a defensible space update. 

He said 3,725 inspections were completed from late August to mid December, of which only 41% were deemed compliant, Drennan said. Since the first inspection 91 of the noncompliant properties have called to have a second inspection. 

Removing dead and dying plant material is one of the leading causes of noncompliance, and most costly. Lesser offenders are not removing firewood from decks and failing to ensure vents are properly enclosed.

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