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Dilapidated structures may be destroyed

The days are numbered for the two dilapidated buildings on U.S. Highway 50 at Meadow Vale Drive.

Boarded up and vacant for 18 years, the buildings will be sacrificed this summer in the name of water quality. Their destruction will restore the 4.8-acre meadow to its natural state, enhancing the scenic value of the area, said El Dorado County Supervisor Dave Solaro, who also serves on the California Tahoe Conservancy board.

“It’s such an eyesore and I’m really thrilled that we’re able to make this accomplishment,” Solaro said. “It’s not the best first impression you want to give to motorists as they come into Lake Tahoe.”



The Conservancy board approved a plan Friday to purchase the land with the condition that property owner Ed McCarthy tear down the structures and revegetate the area.

McCarthy bought the buildings in 1972, when he worked as a real estate broker for the Country Club Estates, a housing development that was being built in the hills off of Elks Club Road.




One of McCarthy’s buildings served as a model home to the subdivision; the other acted as his real estate office.

The land was originally zoned for commercial use but was downgraded to recreational use by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in 1982. Since then, McCarthy said he hasn’t been able to use the property.

“The buildings have been an embarrassment to me but how can you fix something up that you can’t even use,” McCarthy said. “Clearly if I am not going to redevelop, then tearing them down is the next best thing to do and I am sure the community will be pleased with that.”

The two buildings could have been converted to single-family dwellings. The remodel, which would have cost more than $100,000, wouldn’t have been cost effective, McCarthy said. He called the Conservancy’s $235,000 offer a fair offer.

“I’m satisfied with that given the current condition of the buildings,” McCarthy said. “It doesn’t compensate me for all those years I was denied use of the property, which was about 18 years, but I can use the money in different ways now.”

Site restoration and demolition, which is planned for late August, will cost about $25,000, McCarthy said.

Escrow on the property is expected to close in the Conservancy’s name as early as September.

Conservancy Executive Officer Dennis Machida said the 4.8-acre meadow which sits on the edge of the Upper Truckee River, Lake Tahoe’s largest tributary, is about 75 percent undeveloped.

“Restoring the remaining 25 percent is critical for water quality improvements,” he said. “The idea is to preserve and restore as much as we can in that area – it’s the largest and most disturbed watershed in the Lake Tahoe Basin.”

The purchase will accompany nearby Conservancy land: a 5.7-acre plot south of Meadow Vale Drive and the 189-acre Sunset Ranch.

“We’re trying to put the pieces together and certainly this is an important piece,” Machida said. “We hope to use these parcels to filter water before it reaches the Upper Truckee River.”

Cycling runoff through the area’s groundwater system is a key component of saving Lake Tahoe’s notable clarity, which is currently measured at 66 feet and declining at the rate of about 1 1/2 feet each year, scientific research shows.


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