Redevelopment skeptics might take issue to voters
Residents who are skeptical about a proposal to create a new redevelopment zone in South Lake Tahoe are preparing to put the issue on the ballot if the city council approves a plan with which they have serious concerns.
“It’s a fail-safe position ” if the city doesn’t act in a rational and prudent manner,” John Runnels, president of the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Government, said Sunday. “It’s better to be prepared than to be behind the eight-ball.”
Runnels’ comments came after two workshops Friday to inform the public about the redevelopment proposal, which could include as much as 1,860 acres. The proposed area is concentrated in the “Y” area but also stretches along Highway 50 to Herbert Avenue and includes part of the Bijou neighborhood. The city council could decide to make some, all or none of the 1,860 acres a redevelopment zone.
Under redevelopment, a redevelopment agency is allowed to collect a portion of property-tax revenue, which is used to fund improvements in the area. Those improvements might include sidewalks, street repairs, low-interest home-repair loans and upgrades to the Lukins Brothers Water system.
Runnels described Friday’s meetings as “encouraging and informative” but said he still would like to see whether the objectives of the redevelopment proposal could be met in some other way.
If the council takes action that enough people object to, the issue can be put on the ballot. Signatures from 10 percent of registered voters would need to be gathered within 30 days, Runnels said. Voters then would decide whether to accept the council action or reject it.
On Friday, officials held workshops at 2 and 6 p.m. to give the public more information on the redevelopment proposal and to hear questions and concerns. A brochure describing the plan was mailed in advance of the meetings to 7,676 businesses, residents and property owners.
Much of the concern from the crowd at the 6 p.m. session focused on how the redevelopment agency would use eminent domain if the proposal is approved.
The agency will recommend council members not use eminent domain, according to Redevelopment Director Eugene Palazzo.
“We’re not going to recommend it. We don’t want it; we don’t think we need it,” Palazzo said.
City council members previously passed a resolution preventing the redevelopment agency from using eminent domain on any residential property.
As the 6 p.m. meeting proceeded, fears of redevelopment making the “Y” area similar to redevelopment at the state line came from the crowd.
Stateline redevelopment was considered far too tourist-oriented by at least one woman, who drew applause from the audience of about 50.
“I don’t want to live where there’s only corporate businesses. I want to see the Bert’s and Ernie’s,” the woman said, referring to the Emerald Bay Road cafe and coffee shop.
Two community plans will shape the character of the area ” not the redevelopment agency, Palazzo said.
The Tahoe Valley Community Plan and the Bijou Community Plans cover much of the area included in the proposed redevelopment.
The Tahoe Valley Community Plan has not yet been finalized, and now is undergoing an environmental review.
A draft environmental analysis of four alternatives with varying degrees of development is expected to be available for public review this summer, according to Teri Jamin, the city’s community development director.
The Bijou/Al Tahoe Community Plan was adopted in 1996.
Both documents are available online at http://www.cityofslt.us/economicdevelopment/aboutsouthlaketahoe.html.
Further public meetings regarding the creation of a new redevelopment area are likely.
“This is the first (meeting) of what I hope are several,” City Manager David Jinkens said Friday.
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