City to discuss adding fire marshal, raises, amendments to tourist area plan, cannabis tax

Staff Report


SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Lake Tahoe City Council on Tuesday will discuss adding a full time fire marshal, raises for the city manager and attorney, possible amendments to the Tourist Core Area Plan and a cannabis tax.

The city eliminated the full time fire marshal position in 2008 during a budget crunch, but with the threat of wildfire escalating in the basin, South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue Chief Clive Savacool, who currently acts as fire marshal, would like to bring back the position.

The total cost for the position will range from $213,035 to $253,428 which includes salary, health, CalPERS and other benefit contributions. The position will be an unrepresented, exempt management position. The yearly salary would range from $136,632.08 to $166,076.98.

The creation of the position will also require the purchase of a new command vehicle that is estimated at $90,000.

The position would be funded 50% by Measure S, the 1% sales tax voters approved in 2020, with the other half coming from the general fund.

“The recent Caldor Fire is an example of what the future holds for the Tahoe Basin,” said the executive summary of the item on the agenda. “This disaster should not be viewed as an isolated incident but rather foreshadowing of what is to come. To prepare the community for the wildfire threat we face, a constant concerted effort in vegetation management through defensible space preparation should be made. For a city the size of South Lake Tahoe with vegetation management needs, a dedicated fire marshal could better address the identified hazards and risks … improving supervision and guidance.”

Staff has recommended that council pass a resolution creating the position.

City Manager Joe Irvin and City Attorney Heather Stroud may receive 2% salary increases after recently receiving favorable performance evaluations from the council.

Irvin’s new base salary, if approved, would be $178,500, up from $175,000. Stroud’s new salary would be $176,256, up from $172,800.

The increase will be effective in the first payroll after amendment of the contract.

City staff is also recommending council pass a couple of motions amending the Tourist Core Area Plan to Gateway District Special Area 1 to allow industrial services, wholesale and distribution and small-scale manufacturing as special uses.

The TCAP that was adopted in 2013 guides land use, transportation, infrastructure, community design, environmental and other planning decisions.

Tahoe Wellness Center submitted a development application that would permit the manufacturing, distribution and cultivation of cannabis.

The area plan defines a vision for the future of an area of the city that has previously been guided by the Stateline/Ski Run Community Plan, according to the city’s website. This is the center of tourist services and recreation access, spanning the California and Nevada state line and has traditionally been the area with the highest concentration of services and density.

The proposed amendment specifies that each of these new special uses would be allowed only in connection with a retail commercial use where they will enhance the visitor experience and that the additional special use shall be limited in size to 30% of the associated retail space.

Staff has recommended passing a motion finding that the TCAP specific plan study adequately addresses the potential environmental impacts of the proposed ordinance and that no further environmental analysis is required to comply with the California Environmental Quality ACT and to pass a motion to hold a first reading by title only of the amended ordinance.

Council will also continue discussion of a cannabis excise tax that could be placed in front of voters in November 2022.

The tax would take place of the current community benefit fees provided under development agreements with the cannabis businesses. The city said establishing a cannabis tax would be more streamlined and efficient than keeping the development agreements indefinitely and would reduce the staff resources necessary to oversee and manage, including collection of the fees.

City staff recommends contracting with Lew Edwards Group for consulting services, including stakeholder and community engagement and public opinion research. In order to have a potential ballot measure ready for the November 2022 election, staff requests approval of an agreement with LEG to provide services not to exceed $96,500.

The city said the existing cannabis businesses and stakeholders are generally open to the concept of a tax, but would want to be included in the process of establishing the tax rates.

Council will also receive a presentation on the Tahoe Ice Arena from its management team Tahoe Sports and Entertainment Group.

The group said it has restructured, wants to partner with the city and is striving for the arena to be a central “hub” for all ages.

Council is also expected to issue a proclamation recognizing November as Family Court Awareness Month.

The meeting will be held in person and online at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Council chambers are located at 1901 Lisa Maloff Way.

Meetings are live-streamed on Channel 21, the city’s website at, the city’s Facebook page at and via ZOOM at

If joining the meeting via Zoom and would like to comment, press the “raise a hand” button. If joining the meeting via Channel 21 or live stream and would like to comment, call 530-542-6500. The meeting ID is: 822 4517 3659, press *9 to indicate a desire to make a comment. Press *6 to unmute the phone. The clerk will call on the commenter by the last three digits of their phone number when it’s their turn to speak.

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