City eases zoning for rehab center relocation |

City eases zoning for rehab center relocation

Susan Wood

Sierra Recovery Center Executive Director Betsy Fedor may rest up on vacation now that it seems her clients might do so on the “Y” side of town.

The South Lake Tahoe City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to concessions in order for the nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting those with substance abuse problems go through with its plans to purchase the Sandor’s Chateau Motel.

Fedor, who was concerned she would be out of town while the issue remained unresolved, claimed the city’s motel conversion policy is too restrictive and cost prohibitive to use the building to house residents temporarily and conduct outpatient services. The policy recently adopted in April was aimed at setting public safety guidelines to rehabilitate rundown motels into affordable housing complexes.

“It won’t be cheap, but it should be doable,” said Gary Midkiff, a planning consultant who has donated his time to enable the center to move by February.

Sierra Recovery wants to consolidate its offices and housing units because of high rent. Escrow on the motel closes in January.

The investment has topped $1 million through time. And Midkiff expects it to go up more, but not at the rate the center would have to spend to bring the building up to code.

He met with city staffers and a council subcommittee after last week’s meeting to come up with a compromise that wouldn’t set a precedent nullifying the ordinance.

The mixed use allows Sierra Recovery to meet transitional housing guidelines with some eased restrictions.

For one thing, the group may get by with one kitchen instead of one in every unit.

Certain building standards may be deferred to the state fire marshall.

“We’re glad we were able to work with them,” Mayor Tom Davis said.

The city wants to make inroads in helping turn around old structures around town.

In an emotional meeting filled with sober confessions, the council pledged its support for Sierra Recovery Center’s efforts by approving a spot zoning change that would accommodate its plans.

Tuesday’s adoption of the modifications comes on the heels of last month’s approval of a condominium conversion ordinance that allows apartment complexes of less than 11 units to be converted into condominiums.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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