Debate continues over South Lake Tahoe’s Measure T and Loop Road Project |

Debate continues over South Lake Tahoe’s Measure T and Loop Road Project

Claire Cudahy
The proposed Loop Road Project seeks to circumvent the casino corridor to streamline traffic, make a more pedestrian-friendly downtown, and provide new workforce housing. Measure T, if passed, would put city decisions regarding this project to a citizens' vote.
Tribune File Photo |

As Election Day nears, conversations continue on the implications of a ballot measure that, if passed, would put all city decisions on the proposed Loop Road Project to a citizens’ vote.

Measure T was placed on the ballot after a community group known as Let Tahoe Decide collected 1,459 signatures in favor of allowing citizens to vote on any input the City of South Lake Tahoe has on Tahoe Transportation District’s US 50/South Shore Community Revitalization Project.

City council unanimously approved the ballot measure in early July — a move which city attorney Tom Watson said council had a “ministerial duty” to do.

If passed, it prohibits the city from “approving or supporting” the Loop Road Project unless the “specific proposal for re-alignment” is approved by South Lake Tahoe voters.

Though councilmember candidate Jason Collin’s lawsuit challenging Measure T — it called the initiative “flawed” and an unlawful interference of the city’s authority — was dismissed by an El Dorado County judge, discussions continue on what the measure will accomplish.

“One, it’s not a city project. It’s a bi-state federal transportation project,” said Collin.

“The city doesn’t have control over the project, just administrative input. So if the vote goes through, it’s not defined what the city should do. There is no clear direction on the action the city should take.”

In his impartial analysis of the measure, Watson stated, “The Project is not a project of the City and requires no discretionary act of the City Council to proceed. The City Council cannot prevent TTD from proceeding with the Project within the City of South Lake Tahoe, even if voters enact this initiative.”

Bruce Grego, a South Lake Tahoe lawyer and driving force behind Measure T, disagrees.

“We’re not tying the hands of city council, just asking for an actual vote by the citizens,” said Grego.

“Did you know that TTD has no power of eminent domain? The City of South Lake Tahoe does. The city is the key to the project.”

“They are not funding this, and I grant you they are not the lead agency, but it’s their town,” he added.

Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce interim CEO Steve Teshara and South Lake Tahoe Board of Realtor’s executive director Sharon Kerrigan coauthored a rebuttal against Measure T.

“The residents of South Lake Tahoe should not allow an important community development project to be hijacked by a loud but small minority. This ballot question attempts to divide our community and stop environmental and economic change that will benefit businesses, employees and our neighbors,” reads the argument submitted to the city clerk.

“Expanded and updated workforce housing is an important piece of our community and the Loop Road Project will help improve the availability of workforce housing.”

If Measure T passes, it will be back to the courts for the City of South Lake Tahoe on Dec. 5 to determine how to proceed.

“As to the request by the city to define what the ballot measure means if it passes, let the vote play out. I feel confident that there will be another lawsuit. It would be more appropriate to discuss this if and when it passes,” stated Judge Wagoner of Placerville, who presided over Collin’s lawsuit.

The Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce will host a community forum on the US 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project on Thursday, Nov. 3, from 5:30-7 p.m., at Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, 4130 Lake Tahoe Blvd., in South Lake Tahoe.

The program will feature a project update, information about the environmental analysis, and audience Q-and-A.

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