Council shrinks proposed redevelopment area, postpones approval |

Council shrinks proposed redevelopment area, postpones approval

Adam Jensen
Annie Flanzraich / Tahoe Daily TribuneThe South Lake Tahoe City Council directed staff to remove the yellow section of Redevelopment Area No. 2 at its meeting Tuesday. Removing the yellow area could reduce concern from El Dorado County and the South Tahoe Public Utility District, said Councilman Jerry Birdwell. The council will discuss the redevelopment area at its May 4 meeting.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Redevelopment will have to wait.

On Tuesday, the South Lake Tahoe City Council voted 4 to 0 to postpone a decision on the creation of a 1,300-acre redevelopment area centered around the “Y” until their May 4 meeting.

The Council also directed city staff to shrink the size of Redevelopment Area No. 2 by removing a section of the proposed plan between the Upper Truckee River and Al Tahoe Boulevard.

Councilman Jerry Birdwell, who made the motion to postpone the vote, said removing the section may help ease issues raised by two South Shore agencies that will be affected by the redevelopment area.

El Dorado County representatives contend the South Tahoe Redevelopment Agency improperly included five parcels in the proposed redevelopment area that are not under city jurisdiction.

Both the county and the South Tahoe Public Utility District have opposed the creation of the new redevelopment area and have questioned whether the proposal meets required state blight determinations. Each of the agencies could see budget shortfalls if the property tax increases from the proposed redevelopment area don’t meet city projections.

Tuesday’s postponement was “encouraging” and will allow ongoing discussion between the city and agencies about concerns surrounding the proposed redevelopment area, said Dennis Cocking, utility district spokesman.

The new redevelopment area has been billed by proponents as a funding mechanism that will help revitalize run-down areas of the South Shore.

“Redevelopment is not going to cure everything but it’s a financial tool we need for this community,” said Eugene Palazzo, the South Tahoe Redevelopment Agency’s Director.

Dozens of people attended Tuesday’s City Council, and most voiced support for the new redevelopment area.

Betty “B” Gorman, Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce president, described the vacant buildings at the Northeast corner of the “Y” as a “nightmare” for a local business representatives.

With gaming revenues down and some hotels reporting dismal occupancy numbers, the South Shore needs redevelopment as a tool to implement various plans and reposition itself in the tourist market, Gorman said.

South Shore Real estate agent, Deb Howard also supported the proposed plan.

“The cost of doing nothing, or doing the same, is not something we can’t afford,” Howard said.

But several people at Tuesday’s meeting remained critical of the proposed redevelopment area.

John Runnels, president of the Citizens Alliance, urged the City Council to look at other options for improving the west side of town, pass unfinished land use plans like the Tahoe Valley Community Plan and speak with local business owners about what it would take for them to improve their properties.

“This is a bonded indebtedness for 45 years based on fallacy and fantasy,” Runnels said.

Several attendees on Tuesday said it should be up to residents whether to create a new redevelopment area.

“For one thing, I really feel we should put it to a public vote about whether we want this or not,” said South Lake Tahoe resident Albert Harris, who said he is opposed to the new redevelopment area.

Reducing the size of the proposed redevelopment area will require the South Lake Tahoe Planning Commission to hold a special meeting to review the changes.

Councilman Hal Cole did not vote on Tuesday’s because property he owns within 500 feet of the proposed redevelopment area creates a conflict of interest under California law.

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