Placer County withdraws interest in South Tahoe hotel |

Placer County withdraws interest in South Tahoe hotel

Griffin Rogers

In the search for additional development credits to use in the Tahoe Basin, Placer County officials have decided not to pursue the purchase of the 59-room Howard Johnson Express Inn Lake Tahoe in South Lake Tahoe, citing conflicting interests with the city.

However, the county still has interest in the 34-unit A&A Lake Tahoe Inn, located across the street from the Howard Johnson on Highway 50. Jennifer Merchant, Tahoe manager for the Placer County Executive Office, said staff hopes to have a purchase and sale agreement for that property in front of county supervisors by late February or early March.

Placer officials believe that by demolishing the inn and restoring the property, the county will achieve the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s requirements to receive a 3-to-1 bonus on tourist accommodation units — credits needed to build a hotel or motel in the basin.

“Our interest is really trying to incentivize development in the Tahoe Basin and break down these barriers that we don’t have elsewhere,” Merchant said.

The A&A has 34 rooms, which translates to 34 TAUs. With the bonus, Placer would have 102 TAUs and use them to spur new lodging projects in Tahoe City and Kings Beach on the North Shore.

No new motels or hotels have been built in those areas since 1962, and many of the existing ones are not achieving TRPA environmental goals, Merchant said.

Since the county has practically no TAUs banked right now, it has set out to find some in neighboring jurisdictions. So far, Placer has only reported interest in the A&A and the Howard Johnson.

The price tag for the A&A is about $1.4 million, though that number isn’t quite final.

The county backed off of the Howard Johnson after a recent follow-up discussion with city officials in South Lake Tahoe, who said giving up the larger of the two hotels would not be in line with the city’s economic development goals, according to Merchant.

Merchant said the county is simply looking to meet the expectations of visitors in the basin, but development in the region can be challenging.

“We want to have a diverse lodging stock available, but what we right now is definitely on the low end of moderate,” she said.

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