North Shore’s future: More gated communities?
TAHOE CITY – Several years ago, Mike Hawkins, North Tahoe Regional Advisory Council member and retired engineer, projected what the North Shore would look like in the year 2075. One projection included an image of skyrise hotels and apartment buildings around the lake. Another projection showed an endless sprawl of gated communities.
“We see gated communities proposed all the time. This establishes a community structure that I would not like to see in the long run,” Hawkins said. “We have future generations to think of, and the Tahoe Basin shouldn’t end up an exclusive community where you can’t get into unless you own an expensive apartment or you’re working for one for very low wages.”
The issue of gated communities is a volatile topic, one that has come before the Placer County Board of Supervisors many times, including recently approved development projects in Martis Valley and Tahoe City’s new Highlands Village project.
In Martis Valley, the board passed two large development projects, but with varying regulations on the gated entries.
Eaglewood, a 462-unit, gated golf course subdivision was approved in June, but with a modified gate that remains open during the day.
Siller Ranch, which includes two golf courses, 726 residential units and a clubhouse, was approved with a closed gate that only permits residents, identified guests and employees to enter.
A majority of homeowners at Chinquapin, the lakeshore Tahoe City community, voted to add a closed gate to their North Lake Boulevard entrance several years ago, due to security and privacy issues. The gate was approved by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Placer County.
“The gates get approved essentially to make it exclusive and to add ‘property value’ because of that exclusivity,” said Steve Kastan, field deputy for Placer County District Supervisor Rex Bloomfield. “But there seems to be a consensus in the community that the public is not in support of gated communities.”
At last Thursday’s NTRAC meeting, the issue of gated communities resurfaced in relation to the Highlands Village project. The board and the audience expressed concern over the project’s proposed gate, which was denied by the planning commission but is being appealed by the developer.
“You put a gate in front of a project and it makes it an elite community that is changing the face of the North Shore,” Cris Hennessey, NTRAC chairperson, said.
Others on the council disagreed.
“I don’t understand the objection to fences and gated communities. How else are you going to keep dogs, bikes and motorcycles out of the area? A fence provides residents with privacy and I don’t see anything wrong with that,” Terry Dyer, NTRAC member, said.
Dave Wilderotter, a Tahoe City resident, offered another perspective.
“If a gated community is what it takes to get affordable housing built, then I say that’s OK,” Wilderotter said.