South Lake Tahoe’s newly approved design guidelines focus on natural elements |

South Lake Tahoe’s newly approved design guidelines focus on natural elements

Caitlin Row
City council approved South Lake Tahoe Design Guidelines on June 7. This document assists in development projects by providing visual direction to accompany city design standards.
Courtesy Photo |

City council approved a final draft of South Lake Tahoe Design Guidelines earlier this month, which aims to better steer designers and developers looking to invest in the area. Guidelines focus on creating a mountain-town look by working with natural elements in site design, maintaining views and creating comfortable public outdoor spaces.

“The guidelines are in effect now, provide a visual tool and are to assist landowners, developers and tenants design standards to improve the area’s visual quality,” City of South Lake Tahoe public information officer Tracy Franklin said.

Three public workshops were held on the South Shore since January, with Design Workshop of Stateline inviting public input — including voting — on preferred looks for building, landscape and sign design. Design Workshop staffers gathered information from those public meetings, along with results from online voting, to create final guidelines adopted June 7.

“The guidelines provide visual imagery in order to support and clarify the intent of the city’s design standards,” Franklin said. “The guidelines were developed to help project applicants and their designers understand the community’s desired visual character and appearance for South Lake Tahoe.”

According to the South Lake Tahoe Design Guidelines document, “The guidelines are not intended to inhibit innovative design or espouse one style of mountain design. They are intended to allow freedom of expression, innovation and creativity while developing built elements that are timeless or do not appear overly trendy. They provide an illustrative and descriptive tool for establishing and maintaining an overall unifying character and image for the entire community.”

Items covered in the document include site, building, landscape, exterior lighting and signage design guidelines.

Franklin added that new visual guidelines will “help convey the desired mountain identity aesthetic.”

The city’s final design guidelines apply to a variety of projects, according to the document — commercial, tourist, mixed-use, public and industrial projects — which include additions, remodeling, relocation and new construction. They do not, however, impact single and multi-family residential projects. The city will use the new design guidelines when reviewing permit applications. The document also stated that approved Design Guidelines apply to aesthetics only.

“The guidelines are not intended as a ‘blueprint’ for approval; rather they outline the important design elements and features which should be considered,” the document said. “The city will consider these guidelines in reviewing projects. Applicants are invited to submit creative and imaginative projects which build on these guidelines and contribute to the overall character of South Lake Tahoe.

To review South Lake Tahoe Design Guidelines in its entirety, visit Workshop presentations are also available for viewing at the city’s website.

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