Measure P and new rec center receive support in South Lake Tahoe
In November’s upcoming election, South Lake Tahoe voters will have the option to fund a new recreation center — on the tourists’ tab.
Measure P proposes a citywide increase of the transient occupancy tax (TOT) by two percent, raising the hotel tax to 12 percent in most of the city and 14 percent in the redevelopment area.
According to city officials, the tax would generate an estimated $2 million annually. The revenue generated by the increase is designated for the construction, operation and maintenance of a new recreation complex.
The South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association — the very group that stands to be impacted most by the tax increase — proposed the ballot measure.
“The idea came about at one of our board meetings. We were discussing recreation and the fact that the recreation center itself was in dire need of repair,” said Jerry Bindel, secretary/treasurer of the association and general manager of Lakeland Village.
“We heard that the Boys and Girls Club was starting to have challenges relating to a future home, so we saw a synergy develop, and at that point we wanted to go out to the city council and discuss the prospect.”
Bindel said the passing of the TOT tax increase is a “win-win-win” scenario.
“A recreation center could attract off-season tournament play to stimulate the economy, and it’s a great place for locals as well.”
Bindel said that he has not heard any opposition to the measure from members of the lodging community.
“Everyone has seen the benefits of this,” he added.
Bill Hirsch, owner of 7 Seas Inn at Tahoe, said he supports the measure — and any impact on his business will be minimal.
“I think it will have a minor impact, but it is much more for the benefit of the community,” stated Hirsch.
“The improvements to the sport center are an absolute requirement for South Lake Tahoe, and where they got the funding for it was the question mark.”
The current recreation and swim complex, located at 1180 Rufus Allen Blvd., is over 40 years old.
The new recreation complex would also be home to the Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe, which provides after-school and vacation programming for children. The club, currently housed in the closed Al Tahoe School, is anticipating losing its current location in the coming year as the school prepares to reopen.
“For us that is the best option that we have right now,” said Jude Wood, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe. “We are definitely going to do a capital campaign, so we could possibly construct our own building to house our staff and the more academic side of what we do, but we use the gymnasium and the facilities for all other activities.”
“I really support Measure P because, unfortunately, if it doesn’t pass, the future of the rec center is uncertain.”
Measure P has also drawn support from City of South Lake Tahoe Mayor Wendy David.
“I think Measure P is an absolute win for everybody in our community and for our visitors as well,” expressed David.
“We have a crumbling recreation center and now that we have really determined and realized that we are a recreation destination, we are excited about the possibility with the passage of Measure P to build a recreation center that matches what we have in our natural environment as well.”
David said that a subcommittee has created some possible mockups for the center, but “you can only go so far without funding in place.”
“A climbing wall was expressed to us by residents as something they would like to see, a pool, meeting and gathering spaces,” described David.
“We hope to have a large enough space where we could host larger sit-down, catered dinners. A walking path on the second floor. Four basketball courts.”
If Measure P passes, the city will begin to work on more concrete details for the project, including whether they will start from scratch and demolish the existing center, or use parts of the current building.
At Tahoe Regional Young Professional’s Town Hall election forum on Oct. 19, all 10 council candidates were in support of the measure.
Measure P is a special tax — limited to being spent on a designated purpose — and requires a 66-and-two-thirds percent vote in order to be enacted.