City Council receives annual reports for police, development; Hosts Mayor for the Day winner

Mayor for the Day contest winner Emilie Tieslau with Mayor Cristi Creegan

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — City Council on Tuesday passed an ordinance combining special events and temporary uses, received annual reports which inspired robust conversation and voted to enter a lease for new snow removal equipment.

A discussion and possible approval for fire station renovations was put on hold for an additional four months and the idea of a new building will be put in the mix.

To open the meeting the council honored the winner of the Mayor for the Day contest with a proclamation recognizing Emilie Tieslau, South Tahoe Middle School student. Tieslau then called the meeting to order with a strike of the gavel and lead the pledge of allegiance. 

Prior to the meeting, Tieslau toured City Hall, met up with the Police K-9 team including Officer Rocky, which she said was her favorite part of the day. Mayor Tieslau also toured a fire engine with firefighters, and viewed snowplows with the city’s Airport Operations team.

Mayor for the Day contest winner Emilie Tieslau with K-9 Rocky

Guidelines for Temporary Arts and Crafts Shows

A discussion of South Lake Tahoe City Code Section 6.106450 kicked off the evening meeting. The ordinance currently provides guidelines for Temporary Arts and Crafts Shows, which some council members found to be excessive.

What appears to be a complex application with “completely unnecessary regulatory schema,” according to City council member John Friedrich, and is considered by council to be more complex than other temporary special event permit applications.

One of the top discussion points, Mayor Christi Creegan pointed out it would be difficult policing what would be displayed at the events, ensuring everything is hand made. 

Council member Tamara Wallace said that aside from the possibility of a flea market popping up within the city, she agreed with co-council members Scott Robbins and Friedrich.

The bottom line, City Council is suggesting “dropping the regulatory burden,” as Robbins described the current ordinance as including “a lot of specific minutia,” and suggested the council wrap the Arts and Crafts under the existing special events application.

The lengthy conversation ended with what City Manager Joe Irvin said would be a future return to the agenda as a first reading as a red line item version of the ordinance to detail the way in which it will be absorbed. 

Ski Run Business Improvement District Board annual report

During the presentation of the annual report for the Ski Run Business Improvement District, Ben Hannah, city accountant, announced there will be a public hearing on May 2 as part of the required process which completes the two step process required by Streets & Highways Code.

The BID, established in 2003 for the purpose of revenue to support landscape maintenance, collects an amount from each business based on frontage as part of an early decision the BID made in order to pay for necessary maintenance and changes driven by safety measures, according to Hannah.

Collaborative efforts with the City will continue to make changes driven by safety, work to reduce maintenance costs and improve pedestrian safety according to the resolution included in the agenda packet.

Police Department Annual Report of 2022

The Police Department Annual Report of 2022 was received by council and overall crime was down in 2022. Chief David Stevenson reported the new dispatch and record keeping system was implemented in the past few weeks and while providing a bit of a challenge in the form of a learning curve, has exceeded staff’s expectations and hopes. 

According to the presentation, 10 of 19 types of crimes were down in comparison to the past three years. Stevenson noted the subsequent decrease in calls to dispatch. 

Top three offenses reported calls regarding homeless, mental health, and petty theft which is consistent with the numbers reported the past three years. 

“I certainly think it’s a reflection of the great work being done and probably a lot of other reasons; maybe people aren’t reporting crime as much but there’s a million reasons,” Stevenson told City Council when asked what the decrease could be attributed to.

Among the 10 out of 19 crime types which have shown significant decrease in number domestic violence has been cut in half and homeless calls have declined thanks to collaborative works that led to long term solutions, according to Stevenson. 

City Development Rights Annual Report

Heated debate took hold for a solid hour where a discussion prompted by agenda item 9 where it was recommended by staff that council “pass a resolution accepting the development rights appraisal prepared … and establishing a price point for the calendar year 2023 at one-third of the recommended fair market value outlined in the appraisal.”

Ultimately the resolution passed unanimously but not without debate on the existence of the tourist accommodation units and conversions to residential use units or sold. 

According to the development rights accounting, TAUs are outlined with availability to be sold and those already converted. 

Wallace told the Tribune, the majority said the council would give as many of the TAU’s needed to housing but was not opposed to a hotel using them because we could use the cash for affordable housing as well. 100% of the funds from TAUs is for housing.” 

“Sugar Pine Village, the city’s funding of approximately $2 million leveraged $100 million,” Wallace said in the council meeting.

The resolution unanimously carried with the intent to review allocations and the purpose of development rights on a not so distant agenda.

Appropriation of $3.5 million for Design/Build Services Fire Station 3 Renovation

Jim Marino, Capital & Facilities Program Manager presented the council with a request for appropriation of funds to bring the building which houses Fire Station 3, built in 1957, into compliance.

Marino said that remodeling would require relocation and increase the cost exponentially, “We went back to the drawing board and eliminated some scope of work, with the goal of getting it to $2 million but needs to bring the electrical and plumbing up to “today’s standards” as well as ADA accessibility.” 

There have been two remodels, once in 72 one once in 82 with only minor repairs done since according to Marino. Previous plans to renovate have been delayed for one reason or another causing a negative impact on staff morale according to the fire chief.

“Ultimately that station does need to be replaced, it misses the mark huge,” Chief Jim Drennan said. “The apparatus space alone requires special order of fire engines to fit in the bay. The new engine that will arrive in August will need to be shoehorned in there. Bedrooms that are more appropriate and kitchen are bare minimums.”

Drennan said there is a hodgepodge of flooring, leaking roof and moral surrounding the project’s completion is low. 

Dianne Rees, Firewise leader for the Al Tahoe community, presented the council with photos of the present “uninhabitable conditions” she saw first hand during a tour she was granted of the station. 

This isn’t the first conversation held about the outdated building, council member Cody Bass mentioned, remembering it was first discussed in 2018.

Creegan added it was voted on the people’s choice ballot.

Council expressed interest in seeing a recommendation in four months for a totally new station, including furniture items and appliances that would be easily transferable to immediately improve living conditions while avoiding dumping money into a building that would be demolished in the event of an inevitable rebuild. 

Financing Agreement with Bank of America Public Capital Corp for Snow Removal Equipment

In response to the previous decision to approve the purchase of new snow removal equipment Director of Finance Olga Tikhomirova reported there were several offers for financing of this purchase and Bank of America came in with the best rates. 

Unanimously the council approved the resolution directing the mayor to enter into a Master Lease Schedule of Property Acquisition Fund and Account Control Agreement and related documents with Banc of America Public Capital Corp in the principal amount not to exceed $2.7 million for snow removal equipment.

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