City Council reduces days for arts and crafts festivals |

City Council reduces days for arts and crafts festivals

Eric Heinz

South Lake Tahoe City Council made revisions to the number of arts and crafts festivals the city can have during summer, as well as funding avenues to which the events are tied through an ordinance amendment approved Sept. 17.

Amendments to the city’s code under temporary arts and crafts fairs permits have reduced the annual number of allowable arts and crafts festivals in a year from 12 to 10 starting in 2014 and down to eight in 2015.

City officials said they’ve received complaints in regard to arts and crafts festivals because they did not contribute thoroughly to the city’s tax basis, as items are typically purchased with cash, and other complaints were directed in regard to the events lacking aesthetics.

Mayor Pro-tem Hal Cole said he did not think the arts and crafts festivals had contributed economically to the city and actually harmed the permanent businesses within South Lake Tahoe.

“My original objections were not really based on the visual impacts alone; to me it was an economic issue,” Cole said. “I anecdotally know people who do this for a living. And I really beg to differ that the people who are traveling here don’t have an impact on the people who are here 12 months out of the year.”

Cole also stated he did not want to see the nonprofits nor the organizations who host the events lose potential funding.

Additionally, a recent Supreme Court decision City Attorney Tom Watson interpreted to have legal grounds against a city code will prevent the city from mandating at least $5,000 in donations be made to nonprofits in lieu of hosting arts and crafts festivals.

The 2012 decision Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District upheld a land-use compensation that was deemed unconstitutional. The basic court ruling was the government “may not condition the approval of a land-use permit on the owner’s relinquishment of a portion of his property unless there is a ‘nexus’ and ‘rough proportionality’ between the government’s demand and the effects of the proposed land use,” a justice opinion document in the case stated. Through this decision, Watson told council the mandated donations would no longer be acceptable.

Some of the notable local nonprofits that receive the money include Christmas Cheer, a local food bank, and the Tahoe Art League. Loretta Bookhammer, committee chairwoman for Tahoe Art League, said the league would not be able to fund their art scholarships to local students who pursue art degrees.

This summer, South Tahoe Middle School and the American Legion post 795 also hosted events, city officials said.

The American Legion representatives said during the meeting their post would lose the $8,000 they made in net revenue from leasing space to artists for the festival. Representatives from South Tahoe Middle School said the school garners about $24,000 by renting space.

Council members acknowledged the struggles organizations would face trying to finagle budgeting with the prospect of multi-thousand-dollar losses.

South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tom Davis said he would vote against the ordinance changes if it hadn’t appeared as if the organizers would continue to make donations to the nonprofits.

If the donating parties stick to the minimum $5,000 per event obligation on their own terms, 10 arts and crafts festivals would generate a maximum of $10,000 less to nonprofit organizations, as the maximum events is still 12 per year. The council also approved to remove the requirement of the arts and crafts festivals could only be at four specific sites for the 10 festivals.

Organizations are able to revise their application for the 2014 season by Oct. 1 to apply for new locations that meet the requirements under the permit ordinance.

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