LTVA for sale?
To some, it’s only a name, but the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority is prepared to fight for the integrity of its name following the fax distribution of a flier advertising the sale of the authority.
It’s not for sale, according the LTVA.
The flier reads “For Sale Lake Tahoe Visitor’s Authority” and solicits bids beginning at $70,000. Bidding was to close May 8, according to the flier.
The LTVA, without an apostrophe, is a bistate agency funded primarily by transient occupancy taxes collected in both the city of South Lake Tahoe and Douglas County.
The phone number listed on the flier connects to a recording for the Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau. The Tahoe Daily Tribune received no response from several messages left on the voice mail.
LTVA officials have also not had any calls returned.
“Anyone under a private sector business that is using a variation of our name is doing a lot of damage toward consumer confusion,” said LTVA Director Terry LeBan, who has received numerous phone calls wondering about the flier. “It’s naive to think they could actually sell our name.”
The LTVA plans to respond to the flier with a legal course of action now being planned by attorney George Echan, who provides legal counsel to the authority.
“Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority is our domain name and it’s registered in both states,” LeBan said. “We’ve invested $20 million to $30 million in that name over the past 10 years. The city’s not looking for another entity to put their investment in.”
The flier goes on to say “The city of South Lake Tahoe is promoting for a new organization to bid for percent of the transient tax for promotion of this wonderful year-around vacation spot.”
Because of the mention of the city and the room tax, the city attorney office is also considering getting into the legal action, although any action would have to be approved by the City Council.
“There are some actions being considered,” City Attorney Catherine DiCamillo said. “The council hasn’t had a chance to discuss it yet.”
So just who’s trying to sell the LTVA?
The phone number listed on the flier connects to a phone recording identified as the Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau.
A faxed message was answered with a call from Jim Manelli, owner of Lakeview Properties who rents space to Faith Archelletto for the visitors bureau.
Manelli said he was unaware the fax number was being used to solicit bids.
It’s not the first time the Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau wrangled with the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.
In 1998, the LTVA drew up cease and desist papers against Jim Rein, who was then using the visitors bureau name.
“It was out of contention that there was consumer confusion,” LeBan said. “Not too many people understand the difference between a visitors bureau and a visitors authority. Bureau is a variation of the name.”
In May 1998, following confusion over the two names by a visitor disappointed with lack of service offered by the visitors bureau, Rein and then partner Linda Corwin signed an agreement to change the business name to Lake Tahoe Visitors Services.
The services phone number listed in the telephone book now connects to reservations service owned and operated by Scott McDonald, owner of Chateau Suites.
McDonald explained that he and Rein used to be partners. At first the LTVS number transferred to the chalet’s service at night until Rein decided to close his service.
Rein could not be reached for comment.
No one available knew how or when Archelletto began using the Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau name.
“Whoever wins the bid could also be legally challenged” LeBan said. “We’re reluctant to spend the considerable amount of money to fight someone in our neighborhood, but if that’s what it takes (we will do it).”
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