City Council mulls activity permit amendments |

City Council mulls activity permit amendments

Eric Heinz

Citizens and public officials weighed in Sept. 3 at the South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting on proposed amendments to activity permit codes as well as temporary arts and crafts festival permits.

City staff presented a series of recommended amendments to the codes and their policies aimed at addressing what representatives said have been shortcomings to enforcement of permit compliance and frequency of complaints.

Some of the recommendations include policy changes to enforcement and changes in time frames in which the permits can be used.

The draft ordinances went through first readings during the Sept. 3 meeting and will be revisited during discussions at the council’s Sept. 17 meeting.

All of the recommended changes to these ordinances or policies within the ordinances can be found at the city’s website,

Outdoor Display, Temporary UseS and Temporary Activities

Proposed amendments to South Lake Tahoe’s use permits could change planning for organizations in the coming months.

Complaints city officials said they have received include a variety of issues that could be found out of compliance with permit ordinances, and officials said they would like to put more enforcement policy within the ordinances.

Additionally, there may be new security deposits imposed on certain permits for events and different uses.

Director of Development Services Hilary Roverud presented recommendations listed on a city staff report after discussion took place with various city committees days earlier.

A staff report signed by Roverud and signed under review by South Lake Tahoe City Manager Nancy Kerry stated the city has received complaints about coordinators of temporary activities unable to control noise, debris or infiltrating existing competition. Unsightly organization of material on certain parcels of land, public and private, also was brought to attention to city officials, which can be a violation of the city’s nuisance ordinance but seen permissible under a permit.

The difference between the three permits is Outdoor Display permits can be ongoing, such as a display promoting for merchandise for a permanent business; Temporary Uses permits can be granted for six to 12 months; and Temporary Activities permits can be used four times per year per parcel for a total of 14 days, such as the SnowGlobe Music Festival or small events.

A proposed amendment suggests changing the time period for the Temporary Activities permit to four days of the activity’s duration and requiring four days of cessation between that time.

“This will continue to allow short term sales and events but would prevent the use of the Temporary Activities Permit for activities that are intended to be longer in duration,” the staff report stated.

City officials at the meeting said the Temporary Activities permit code is intended to govern events during the largest holidays for promotion.

Depending on the nature of the use, some outdoor displays can be used as a primary promotional device.

But Roverud stated in her presentation that many of the city’s outdoor displays are in violation of the city codes under “Nuisances on commercial property affecting the visual and aesthetic health and welfare.”

“(The code) doesn’t discriminate on what the merchandise is, whether it’s T-shirts, bicycles, paddleboards or other items,” Roverud said during her presentation.

Roverud said the recommendations are not to change the solidity of the code, but rather to give more strength to enforce it.

Policy changes recommended within the codes as stated in the staff report included:

• Adding criteria for the approval of Temporary Activities and Temporary Uses permits;

• Limiting Temporary Activities permits to a four-day duration with four days between activities;

• Implementing a prohibition on vending or commercials retails sales under the Temporary Uses permits;

• And installing authority to require an undisclosed security deposit on the Temporary Activities and Uses permits.

When asked by council members what would determine the amount of security deposits, Roverud said it would probably come down to the size and nature of the event itself.

The security deposits, Mayor Tom Davis said, could help legitimize business conducted under these permits, as it would hold the vendors or activity planners accountable to their bond.

Arts and Crafts

In a staff report submitted to the City Council, it was recommended that council amend the ordinance to make changes to City Code Section 5-54.2, “Temporary Arts & Crafts Shows,” to:

• Remove code language that limits arts and crafts fairs to three locations within the city;

• Change the deadline for arts and crafts fair permit applications from Sept. 1 to Oct. 1;

• and change arts and crafts fair permit fees from $50 to an unspecified amendment in the “Master fee Schedule.”

The ordinance proposes to remove The American Legion, Miller/Mikasa and South Tahoe Middle School and replace those locations with “proposed” sites through the permit application process.

Arts and crafts fairs also would be cut down from 12 allowed per year to four, under the proposed ordinance.

Additionally, due to a recent U.S. Supreme Court case, South Lake Tahoe City Attorney Tom Watson said, the previously required $5,000 net donation to a local nonprofit organization must be stricken from the ordinance.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.