Tahoe Conservancy revisiting asset lands program | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe Conservancy revisiting asset lands program

Tom Lotshaw

Seventeen lots owned by California Tahoe Conservancy would be marked for potential sale or transfer under proposed asset lands program changes its board of directors consider Thursday.

The lots are in urban areas in Kings Beach, South Lake Tahoe and Meyers. They are high-capability, developable lots the conservancy acquired either for now-defunct projects or incidentally as part of all-or-nothing deals with property owners to acquire environmentally sensitive land in other areas.

The list includes six lots near the “Y” intersection in South Lake Tahoe, nine lots on U.S. 50 in Meyers and two lots in Kings Beach. Some lots in Meyers were acquired for a visitors center that never materialized.

Tahoe Conservancy created the asset lands program in March 2012 as a way to unload and make better use of some of its developable land that doesn’t have enough environmental or recreational value to warrant conservancy ownership. Of the conservancy’s 4,890 properties acquired over 25 years in the Tahoe Basin, 333 lots were identified as eligible for the asset lands program. Two were authorized for sale and sold last fall for $1.6 million.

Proposed eligibility criteria for the asset lands program include:

Lands where a conservation easement would be more cost-effective than full ownership; developable land in urban areas that can support sustainable compact development consistent with local area plans or town center plans; developable land along the former Highway 50 right-of-way that can support the South Tahoe Greenway bike trail or be sold or leased to fund the trail; developable land acquired in “bulk acquisition” of conservation and developable lands from one seller; and developable land bought to acquire land coverage for mitigation purposes, bike trails or other development projects.

The 17 lots proposed for potential sale are in urban areas and could be sold and developed consistent with local area plan or town center objectives. None are environmentally sensitive lands, according to Deputy Director Ray Lacey.

“We have heard people say these lots were bought for environmental sensitivity and now we’re turning around and selling them. That is completely untrue,” Lacey said about the asset lands program. “We are not talking about any of the environmentally sensitive parcels. Those are all off the table.”

In the Tahoe Conservancy’s view, selling the proposed asset lands would result in environmental benefit by promoting urban in-fill.

“It’s natural for us to look at the parcels we bought or inherited not for environmental reasons, and how those can be used to help fulfill not only the new mandates of the regional plan and area plans, but new state mandates looking at promoting in-fill and other smart growth objectives,” said Patrick Wright, director of the Tahoe Conservancy.

One comment Tahoe Conservancy often gets about the asset lands program is that many of the 200-plus residential lots classified as asset lands have become important open space properties in neighborhoods. “We understand that and those are off the table,” Wright said.

Eligible residential lots would remain listed in the asset lands program. “But what we are saying fairly forcefully is that we have no plans to sell them. We understand they now provide important community benefit. So as a result, the only parcels we are considering selling are these 17 lots in town centers that are urbanized,” Wright said.

If the 17 lots are targeted for sale as proposed, their sale would require additional approval by the conservancy board of directors. That includes both pre-sale authorization and final sale approvals.

Several other asset lands program changes are proposed. They include notification of property owners in a larger 500-foot area around lots targeted for sale and completion of an environmental review before the time of sale.

The March 20 meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. at Inn by the Lake, 3300 Lake Tahoe Boulevard. Other items on the agenda include:

• A land lease for University of Nevada, Reno’s initiative to build a digital seismograph and multi-hazard camera network in the Tahoe Basin.

• Guidelines for volunteer programs and a possible extension of workers’ compensation to long-term volunteers.

• A $211,613 grant to South Lake Tahoe for the Sierra Tract erosion control project.

• A $211,613 grant to El Dorado County for the Lake Tahoe Boulevard enhancement project.

• Discussion of the conservancy’s Recreation Land Exchange and Tahoe Livable Communities programs and draft Forest Improvement program guidelines.

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