Placer County eyeing South Tahoe hotels for more units |

Placer County eyeing South Tahoe hotels for more units

Griffin Rogers

Placer County is eyeing two hotels in South Lake Tahoe for the purpose of buying them, demolishing them and using the freed up lodging units to allow for new development in its own slice of the Tahoe Basin.

However, the exchange cannot be completed without the consent of South Lake Tahoe, which stands to lose any occupancy taxes associated with the lodgings, as well as at least one hotel in the middle of a busy commercial zone.

Placer County is actively looking for opportunities in the basin to acquire additional lodging units — widely known as Tourist Accommodation Units to locals — and start new hotel projects on the lakeside of the county for the first time since the 1960s, Facility Services Director Mary Dietrich said.

But caps put in place by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in 1987 have led the county to look to its neighbors for more TAUs.

“The inventory we have now is very dated,” she said.

So far, Placer County only has its sights on two South Lake Tahoe properties: the Howard Johnson Express Inn Lake Tahoe on Highway 50 and the A&A Lake Tahoe Inn across the street, according to Dietrich.

Those properties are particularly appealing because they rest in a stream environment zone and could potentially yield bonus lodging units.

“I think these are a couple projects that hold great potential because they are in the sensitive SEZ land,” she said, “so they are good properties for restoration.”

South Lake Tahoe City Manager Nancy Kerry said the city is open to holding talks with Placer County, but said taking the Howard Johnson Inn down “doesn’t make sense” since it rests in a commercial zone.

She also told the Sacramento Business Journal last month that if the Howard Johnson were demolished, it would be a big hit to the city’s budget.

Kerry said any agreement regarding the county’s plan would need to fit in with the city’s economical and environmental policies.

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