City establishes rec center budget; discusses shared rental ordinance

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Lake Tahoe City Council members on Tuesday started discussion on a possible shared rental ordinance, gave themselves raises and established a budget for the new recreation and aquatics center.

Since the passage of Measure T in 2018, the number of shared rental permits has increased from 15 to 90, leading the city to want to draft an ordinance. The ordinance would pertain to homes that are being rented on a short-term basis and are also owner or tenant occupied.

Some members of the public expressed concern about the city allowing these types of rentals.

“We think you’re stepping into another hornets nest,” Steve Teshara said on behalf of the Tahoe Chamber.

The council raised some concerns with the ordinance written as is and had several changes for staff including a cap on 200 permits that will be reevaluated after Measure T kicks in, stating the owner of the property is responsible for the renters, and the tenants must have a minimum of a two-year lease to get authorization from the owner.

The ordinance will be brought back to a future council meeting with changes.

The council also voted to establish a $50 million project for the recreation and aquatic center, $40 million of which will be bonded. Part of the recreation center design will include a senior nutrition center with a professional kitchen as well as an event space.

The building will either be put at the north end of the 56-acre area or will replace the existing building, staff said the design will be able to fit in either space. However, if the building did replace the existing location it will be a bit more expensive because work will need to be done to bring the parking lot up to code and it will mean the city will be without a recreation center for about two years while the project is being completed.

Councilmember Cody Bass requested that the project be net zero or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified. Councilmember Devin Middlebrook said he’d like to see a gear library in the center where low income families can rent outdoors equipment.

The council also approved the first reading for a compensation increase for the council members and treasurer. The increase, that will go into effect Jan. 23, is allowed through the California Government Code which says they are eligible for up to a 5% increase each year.

Bass said he was concerned that the current compensation barely covers the amount of time spent on council work so the city might have a hard time incentivizing people to run, though there are nine candidates for two city council seats in the November election.

The current compensation is $1,042.97 per month and it would increase to $1,147.27 per month. The additional compensation for both council and treasurer will cost the city about $6,000 a year.

Mayor Pro Tem Tamara Wallace said she was vehemently against the increase.

“Given the current situation, it would be less than good form to increase compensation,” Wallace said.

Despite her concerns, the council voted 4-1 with Wallace being the only no vote.

The council also received an update on COVID-19. Since there was left-over money from the voucher program and personal protective equipment grant, the short-term economic task force decided to use that money as a winter PPE grant opportunity.

This would allow businesses to get outdoor heaters or other necessary equipment to still be able to allow outdoor seating in the winter months. The program would provide reimbursements of 50% of winter operations expenses up to $5,000, there is $75,000 available but council may consider increasing that based on demand.

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