City takes Loop Road in new direction, approves alternate plan
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — City council on Tuesday voted to take the “Loop Road Project” in a new direction and passed a resolution to go with an alternative plan.
The US 50 South Shore Community Revitalization project aimed to reroute U.S. Highway 50 around the casino corridor to make a “main street” at Stateline. However, by moving the highway, a portion of the Rocky Point Neighborhood would’ve been torn down and the residents relocated.
The project has been a contentious issue in the community for many years, mainly because the Rocky Point Neighborhood is one of the few low income areas on the South Shore where many of the city’s minorities live.
City Manager Joe Ivrin and City Attorney Heather Stroud presented an alternative to the council members that would route two one-way lanes of eastbound traffic from U.S. 50 to Heavenly Village Way to Lake Parkway to rejoin highway in Stateline, and two lanes of westbound traffic would be routed from U.S. 50 at Pine Blvd., in Stateline to rejoin the highway at Park Avenue.
Mayor Tamara Wallace was very much in favor of the alternative, stating that while she does support main street development, she does not support “a racist highway,” to achieve it.
She went on to say that this neighborhood is one of the only neighborhoods where they could get away with even considering this project.
While the original plan did require affordable housing to be built in place of the housing being torn down, councilmember John Friedrich pointed out that some of the residents in the area might not be full citizens and may not be eligible for affordable housing.
Friedrich went as far as to add an amendment to the resolution vowing to “protect and enhance the Rocky Point neighborhood through a measure to limit cut-through traffic,” as well as adding deed restricted affordable housing.
Councilmember Cody Bass also felt that the original plan would not solve the traffic problem because drivers would still be turning from U.S. 50 to Pioneer Trail and vice versa.
He also expressed frustration that up until recently, the city was left out of the planning process for the project despite 80% of the project area falling within city limits.
Mayor pro tem Devin Middlebrook and Councilmember Cristi Creegan were in opposition to the alternative. Creegan pointed out that business owners are residents too and should be considered when making decisions, especially since a main street would drive business to local shops.
Middlebrook felt that it was just moving the negative impact from one area to another, pointing out that a lot of the hotels on Lake Parkway are monthly rentals and employee housing.
Despite their objections, the resolution passed 3-2.
“This discussion has gone on for so long and it’s time to make it work for our community,” Wallace said in a press release. “This project shouldn’t be about tearing down neighborhoods or taking people’s homes. It should be about lifting people up and that was what today’s decision was all about.”
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