A Closer Look: A busy corner, a vacant lot – what should be built there? | TahoeDailyTribune.com

A Closer Look: A busy corner, a vacant lot – what should be built there?

A prime piece of real estate at a bustling corner in South Lake Tahoe that had been slated for timeshare units and retail is coming back into public hands.

Diamond Resorts is returning the 2.3 acres at the southwest corner of Ski Run Boulevard and Highway 50 to the South Tahoe Redevelopment Agency.

The owners of the Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort, on the other side of Highway 50, had been in an agreement with the agency to develop the land within 10 years. That window of opportunity ran out in May 2006.

Representatives of Diamond Resorts, which owns the property, said the parcel was too small to meet the company’s development standards. Officials said during a city council meeting this month that Diamond Resorts was being cooperative in returning the property. Diamond Resorts acquired the land last year with its purchase of Sunterra Corp., the previous owner of Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort.

The parcel had been approved for 24 timeshare units and 13,000 square feet of retail.

Redevelopment Director Gene Palazzo said the agency likely would look for someone else to develop the vacant parcel.

“The property is more productive if it’s developed than if it’s not,” he said.

And so, that raises the question: What would you like to see at that corner? Timeshare units? Shops? Restaurants? A parking lot? A park or public plaza? A farmers market?

The corner is in an interesting location, across Ski Run Boulevard from the KFC plaza that’s being refurbished. Ski Run Boulevard recently has seen its own revitalization through efforts of the Ski Run Business Improvement District.

And the Ski Run Marina has been identified through a Tahoe Regional Planning Agency study as a good site from which to run a ferry service across the lake to the North Shore.

City Councilman Jerry Birdwell, who owns the Black Bear Inn on Ski Run Boulevard, said he didn’t have any immediate ideas for the land, aside from finding the “highest and best use” for it. Birdwell said he’s “absolutely open” to hearing suggestions from the public on what to do there. So send in your ideas, and I’ll share them with other readers.

In a separate matter, Carl Ribaudo plans to propose that the TRPA Governing Board order a “performance review” for itself at the board’s Wednesday meeting in Stateline.

Ribaudo said he’s gotten a lot of positive feedback on the idea since he floated it on the Tribune’s Opinion page Jan. 29. The idea was prompted in part by the performance review of the agency’s executive director, John Singlaub, which was conducted in public. All the agency’s woes can’t be blamed on Singlaub, Ribaudo said.

He cites as examples the declining clarity of Lake Tahoe and the board’s inability to update shorezone ordinances despite working on the issue for more than 20 years.

In a follow-up interview, Ribaudo acknowledged that the workings of a 15-member board, which must conduct most of its business in public meetings, can be inherently messy. Still, he contends the governing board could be doing a better job.

“This is not a get-TRPA thing; it’s a good government thing,” he said.

Many organizations have periodic reviews of their boards of directors, Ribaudo said, and the spending of public funds on such a review “would be well worth it” if the result is a more efficient board. He said the review wouldn’t need to slow down other TRPA business.

And for the record, Ribaudo would have no problem with having a performance review of the board of directors of the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce, which he chairs. In fact, he said he would recommend such a review within a year or two for the organization, which was formed through the merger of two chambers in November 2006.

Anyone who conducts these types of performance reviews is invited to contact me with details of what they think can offer the TRPA board.

– Elaine Goodman is city editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. She can be reached at egoodman@tahoedailytribune.com or (530) 542-8006.

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