Council approves virus relief loan program; discusses housing |

Council approves virus relief loan program; discusses housing

Laney Griffo

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Small businesses in South Lake Tahoe can apply for 0% interest loans through the city following the Tuesday approval of a COVID relief loan program.

City council approved the Small Business Sustainability Loan Program which is a 0% interest loan that has a deferred payment until June 1, 2022. Businesses can apply for up to $15,000 depending on need and organizational size.

Council requested that the loan stipulated that businesses who receive the loan must follow city, state and federal COVID guidelines. If businesses are found not to be in compliance, the deferral is canceled and they must immediately begin paying back the loan.

The council approved an initial $700,000 to be taken from the undesignated fund for the program. Applications are accepted through Jan. 15.

Council also approved $75,000 for a gift card program through the Tahoe Chamber of Commerce. The program rewards people who purchase gift cards from businesses within city limits. While council has given support to restaurants, this program is aimed at supporting other small businesses and nonprofits.

During the COVID discussion, City Manager Joe Irvin, Barton Health CEO Clint Purvance and Lake Tahoe Unified School District Superintendent Todd Cutler gave updates.

Irvin said that even though the region is still in the purple tier, the positive case rate in the city has been remaining relatively low recently compared to the explosion in December.

“I think the numbers are dropping because the stay at home measures are working,” Irvin told the council.

Purvance gave an update on the vaccination process at the hospital. He said over 60% of top tier Barton employees have received the first dose. He also said the second dose is going to arrive this week and will be administered shortly thereafter.

Cutler told the council about the district’s thoughts on school returning to hybrid. He said it’s likely students will be able to return by Jan. 11 which was the goal.

The problem, Cutler said, is that there have been several positive cases among staff, adding that on Monday eight staff members tested positive.

The district is going to continue to monitor case numbers and decide when to send students back to hybrid.

“Getting our students back in school is our priority,” Cutler said.

Council also received a presentation on housing solutions from the city’s housing manager Zach Thomas.

The city currently has the Single Room Occupancy and Multi-family Dwelling Unit programs which ensures standard living conditions for residents. It also has engaged in new construction, such as the Sugar Pine Village, and looks for state and federal grants and funding.

Thomas said one immediate thing the council should discuss is an emergency rental program. With the federal moratorium on evictions soon coming to an end, the city could develop a plan to help locals who are in danger of being evicted because of COVID.

Council asked staff to begin creating a plan to bring back in February.

Thomas also discussed possible partnerships with Landing Locals and Tahoe Home Connections, two groups trying to find affordable housing within the existing inventory of homes, including converting vacation home rentals to long-term rentals.

The city is going to put out a request for proposals for partnerships to address the issue.

Finally, Lake Tahoe Airport Manager Mark Gibbs presented the 2020 Airport Economic Impact Study Findings.

The study, which was conducted by University of Nevada, Reno found the airport brings in about $20,000,000 for South Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas and employs about 215 people at the airport for related services.

The next meeting will be Jan. 19 which will be a strategic planning meeting.

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