Sass Talk: South Lake Tahoe adopts vision statement, big projects on the horizon and more |

Sass Talk: South Lake Tahoe adopts vision statement, big projects on the horizon and more

Austin Sass
Sass Talk

With the warm spell of late, at lake level it looks like the big snow storms never happened. However, go up above 8,000 feet and you see a much different picture. Atop Heavenly’s Dipper Chair there is an information shack that is between 8-10 feet high. Next to it is 10 foot high signage indicating where the runs are. As of yesterday, you can’t see either of these.

Over 50 feet of snow fell up there and even with the melt and the settling, there is still a ton of white stuff. I expect our streams will be flowing into August and our mountains might stay white throughout the summer. Truly, an epic winter.

Kudos to all of the mountain staffs for their extremely hard work digging out the bottoms of chair lifts, ski patrol shacks, restaurants and the actual lift lines.

On the Nevada side of Heavenly, the staff had to work their way up Stagecoach lift and dig out a path by hand for the chairlifts to come back down. Just this week, the chairs had only a foot between the snow and the bottom of the chairs and at Comet lift, you ski to the chair and are actually above where you get on the lift. We skiers and riders appreciate the work you did. Thank you, I’m sure there were many days you would rather have stayed in the sheets and kept warm.

The City Council and staff had our retreat this past month where we discussed the state of the city and amongst other things, our vision for the future. One of our goals for the retreat was to develop a vision statement. This vision statement is meant to guide our decision making process. All five of council and senior staff came up with the following: We will reflect the national treasure in which we live. Whether out for a hike or remodeling or landscaping, perhaps it’s something that could guide your decision making process.

At the March City Council meeting,we entered into an agreement to construct the El Dorado Beach to Ski Run Bike Trail. This will complete the missing connection for bikers to travel from Stateline to the Y. This project started in 2002 when the city accepted California Tahoe Conservancy (CTC) planning funds. It was delayed for years because of the economic downturn and CalTrans work on U.S. 50. In 2013 design and easement acquisition resumed and now the city will finally be able to complete the project. Our collective hope is that this will increase the safety of bikers going from one end of town to the other and that we will see more people using their bikes to commute.

The environmental document for the U.S. 50 Revitalization project (aka the Loop Road) should be released by the third week of April. Once that happens, approximately 2,000 people directly affected by the project area will receive official notices and the 75 day comment period will commence.

During that time, there will be hearings with the Tahoe Transportation District (TTD) Board and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) Governing Board and other presentations and meetings within the community. Like all comment periods for projects like these, input at formal hearings and written comments will be recorded.

After this 75-day period, TTD staff will take some time to prepare a response to all the comments which will be incorporated into the final document (also known as the EIR and EIS). Included in this will be the original report and a supplemental report with the preferred alternative for the project. From there, we will have more hearings, and eventually a vote on approvals from the required agencies. The TTD website will be publishing a list of all hearings and meetings so that community members can express their opinion.

I’m glad to see all of the meetings about housing taking place. It’s affecting all of us and I want to assure you that City Council is well aware of the issue. It’s being investigated and researched from all angles, which include TRPA development rights and code, state and federal financing and grants, land trusts, tiny homes, multi-family dwellings, what other mountain towns have done, and much more. It’s a very complicated issue, especially living in one of the most regulated locales in the United States. There is no easy answer but many minds from government to environmental and nonprofit agencies to business owners to employees and concerned residents are part of the discussions. Kudos to everyone for giving up their personal time to find solutions.

Finally, a favorite quote from an author of my youth named Carlos Castaneda: “We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”

I choose strong. And, I hope you will too.

South Lake Tahoe Mayor Austin Sass can be reached at and on Facebook by searching Sasstalk.

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