City raises airport landing fees, approves defensible space agreement with Conservancy

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The Lake Tahoe Airport will be raising its landing fees for visitors, following approval from the South Lake Tahoe City Council during its Tuesday, Nov. 15, meeting. 

The goal of the landing fee adjustments is to make the airport more self-sufficient and less reliant on city subsidies. The adjustments were based on Truckee Airport landing fees, which were increased Oct. 1, and usage data of the Lake Tahoe Airport. 

From Oct. 2021 to Oct. 2022, 9,932 flights were recorded at TVL, 2,901 of which were landings from visiting aircrafts. Most of the record flights were local flights, air medical, or military/government. 

A little more than half of the visiting flights that landed were 6,000 pounds or less. Truckee Airport charges fees based on takeoff weight of the aircrafts and charges $8 per 1,000 pounds for fixed-wing aircrafts of 5,501 – 19,999 pounds, $10 for 20,000 – 49,999 pounds and  $12 for 50,000-plus. In the peak season, TVL charges $4.88 for aircrafts 60,000-plus and only $3.03 for aircrafts weighing between 6,001 and 11,999 pounds. 

Staff estimates that if landing numbers remain the same this year, the airport could make an additional $176,408 if they match the Truckee fees. 

The council approved the fee changes 4-1, with Mayor Devin Middlebrook voting no. Staff will update the council during its August 2023 budget workshop so the council can decide whether or not to make more adjustments. 

During the Tuesday evening meeting, council voted to sign a one-year franchise agreement with Liberty Utilities but signaled interest in exploring municipalization of the electricity grid by the City. Staff has been working with Liberty Utilities to make adjustments that will help the city reach its net-carbon goals but said they’ve run into resistance from Liberty. 

Sara Letton, sustainability coordinator for the City, said in her presentation that she didn’t think Liberty would make the best long-term partner to help achieve sustainability goals. Councilmember Tamara Wallace said Liberty has been a bad partner and Councilmember Cody Bass echoed the sentiment, saying, “the fact that they’re not here tonight speaks volumes.”

The council approved the one-year agreement but directed staff to spend the next year looking at other options. 

South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue will be creating the South Shore Fuels Reduction Program, following approval of the council. The program will create a fuels reduction program and a defensible space program.

Along with approval of the program, council approved $392,987 for the purchase of a Chevy 5500 Chipper truck with tools and build up, and the hiring of 4 personnel to form a Fire Department fuels reduction chipper crew. 

The council also approved an agreement with the California Tahoe Conservancy. SLTFR and CTC will work together to conduct fuels reduction work on CTC lots. Both agencies said while they haven’t worked well together in the past, they are excited to work together moving forward. 

During councilmember announcements at the end of the meeting, both Wallace and Bass, who each won their reelection campaign, thanked voters for supporting them. 

Councilmember John Friedrich welcomed Scott Robbins, who won the open seat, to the council and thanked Middlebrook for his service. 

The next meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, and will be Middlebrook’s last meeting on council. 

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