City council supports Tahoe Valley plan |

City council supports Tahoe Valley plan

Jack Barnwell

A supportive South Lake Tahoe city council passed the Tahoe Valley Area Plan resolutions in a first read on Tuesday, moving one step closer to final approval.

The area plan, a collaborative effort between Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), the city and other agencies, provides a blueprint for “Y” area of South Lake Tahoe at Highway 89 and Highway 50.

City Planning Manager John Hitchcock said during his presentation that the latest draft shows a lot of community collaboration over the last year.

“The area plan truly reflects the community’s vision,” Hitchcock said.

Development and design standards include a mountain town theme with the goal of having Tahoe Valley maintain a residential community center atmosphere while still appealing to visitors.

Alternative modes of transportation would be encouraged with improved sidewalks and bike lanes with the ultimate goal of connecting the town center to adjacent neighborhoods.

“Tahoe Valley is unique in that it’s surrounded by residential uses,” Hitchcock said.

Hitchcock said the plan includes a healthcare district to encourage consolidation of medical facilities and allow residents to use alternative methods of transportation.

Secondary units would be allowed on parcels and promotes live/work units in the area’s industrial zone. The area plan also includes a greenbelt, or undeveloped sections, to improve stormwater and sediment control and provide recreational amenities.

Economic development comes in the form of 15,000 square feet of commercial floor area that becomes available once the plan is approved by TRPA governing board. The city also has banked CFA it can utilize to offer incentives for private development and coverage allowances would increase to 70 percent from a current 30 percent.

Hitchcock said the stream environment zone (SEZ) map in the plan refines the one conducted by Bailey in the 1970s. Consultants found that the actual stream environment zone in the Tahoe Valley area is narrower.

Resident Laurel Ames questioned the updated, reduced SEZ area and cautioned that poor planning could result in disaster down the road.

Hitchcock said the updated information showed planning for a 20-year, one-hour storm was sufficient.s

Topping off the potential benefits includes delegating more authority to the city. The city currently only has sway over single-family homes and commercial structures under 2,500 square feet.

“We will be predominately doing most of the permitting in the South Shore,” Hitchcock said.

Dr. Steve Leman, one who served on a previous citizens committee years ago, praised the plan as something that was badly needed.

“I think it is balanced, creative and comprehensive,” Leman said. But he questioned whether the city missed its opportunity to “spiff up that area of town.”

Shannon Eckmeyer with the League to Save League Tahoe praised the plan.

“It’s the type of area plan we were hoping to see,” Eckmeyer said. Eckmeyer also serves on the city’s planning commission, which approved the plan at its May meeting. Eckmeyer had recused herself.

In approving it, council members said the area plan would have a profound impact on the city.

“This plan is huge and I don’t think the community realizes what it’s going to do for this side of the town,” Councilman Tom Davis said.

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