Tax district envisioned for Bijou stormwater treatment system |

Tax district envisioned for Bijou stormwater treatment system

Tom Lotshaw

South Lake Tahoe is trying to create a taxation district to help pay for maintenance of a $15 million system being built to collect and treat stormwater in the 42-acre Bijou commercial core area.

In exchange for voluntarily paying into the community facilities district, property owners would get compliance certificates for Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s best management practices program that otherwise requires them to do onsite projects to reduce erosion and stormwater runoff.

The Bijou system is scheduled to go online this fall and exemplifies an area-wide approach being pursued to reduce stormwater pollution in some areas. The system’s maintenance costs are estimated at $112,403 per year.

South Lake Tahoe officials want to eventually collect about half of that amount from property owners in the urbanized Bijou area that the system will serve, but participation in the district would be voluntary.

“That’s if every parcel in the area participates,” said Trevor Coolidge, South Lake Tahoe’s construction engineer. “We don’t anticipate that right off the bat. We anticipate about a third right off the bat. But those other properties are eligible to participate. They can join at a later date.”

The Bijou commercial core is one of the city’s worst contributors of sediment-laden stormwater into Lake Tahoe. That sediment washes into the lake and clouds its famously clear waters.

The new system is estimated to reduce the amount of stormwater sediment entering Lake Tahoe by about 17,000 pounds per year and provide one-third of the pollutant load reduction required by the city’s municipal stormwater permit.

Property owners are petitioning South Lake Tahoe to create the district. South Lake Tahoe City Council on Tuesday voted to move forward with the process, which will be finalized with additional council actions in July and August.

Property owners could voluntarily join the district and pay a yearly assessment of 10 cents per square foot of impervious surface coverage to achieve compliance with TRPA’s best management practices program. The assessment would be adjusted each year to account for inflation.

For some property owners, joining the district and paying its assessment for some or all of their property could be a good deal compared to doing their own on-site BMP projects, Coolidge said. BMP projects installed by property owners have averaged about $1.27 per square foot, and up to $3 per square foot for commercial properties installing BMPs under asphalt, according to the city and TRPA.

Properties must contribute stormwater to the Bijou system and be located within the community facilities district to participate. That area is generally bordered by Lake Tahoe to the north, Fairway Avenue to the south, Takela Drive to the east and Ham Lane to the West.

In other business Tuesday, the City Council:

• Approved a $288,500 agreement with Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce for it to deliver business coaching services. The program is funded by money from California’s Community Development Block Grant program.

• Authorized a sale of surplus vehicles and parts.

• Waived the full travel lane repaving requirement for Lukins Brothers Water Company’s water line improvement project. The company will use the savings to install an additional 500 feet of 12-inch water line on James Avenue.

• Authorized city staffers to apply for Federal Aviation Administration grants for Lake Tahoe Airport. The city wants $1.075 million for the third phase of a general aviation ramp reconstruction; $579,000 to reseal taxiway joints and runway cracks; $80,000 to create a pavement maintenance management program; and $50,000 to do an airfield obstruction study.

• Approved a financing arrangement for Barton Memorial Hospital to issue $18 million in tax-exempt bonds to pay for capital improvement projects including a new central utility plant.

• Passed the first of two readings of an ordinance amendment to eliminate a requirement that both real estate agents and their brokers pay business and professions taxes. With the change, brokers would be assessed the annual business tax on behalf of themselves and all people doing business under their license.

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