Remembering 2015: Big stories on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Remembering 2015: Big stories on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore

The long-awaited Bijou Bike Park opened to the public Saturday, Sept. 19, as part of the City of South Lake Tahoe's 50th anniversary celebration.
Sebastian Foltz / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

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What was the Tribune’s most memorable story of 2015? Share your thoughts by writing a letter to the editor. Email crow@tahoedailytribune.com.

2015 — it was a year of economic recovery for South Lake Tahoe; and it brought much needed snow. Last year also showcased heated debates, whether focused on the City of South Lake Tahoe’s vacation rental ordinance, council member JoAnn Conner’s censure or this past summer’s Kris Jackson shooting.

Here are the highlights:

KRIS JACKSON SHOOTING

Kris Jackson was shot June 15 at Tahoe Hacienda Inn on Lake Tahoe Boulevard by a South Lake Tahoe police officer.

According to police reports at the time, officers responded to the hotel to investigate an alleged domestic dispute. After entering the hotel room, officer Joshua Klinge reportedly assessed the situation and saw Jackson near the window. The department later stated that Klinge felt Jackson represented a threat.

Jackson was transported to Barton Memorial Hospital for treatment, but died from his wound.

The El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office assumed responsibility for the investigation and Klinge was placed on paid administrative leave.

The District Attorney’s office recently reported that it was still wrapping up the final investigation, and the report will likely be released soon.

Alan Laskin, a Sacramento-based attorney, said Dec. 7 that he requested information related to the death of Jackson, 22, multiple times to no avail. Laskin said the length of the investigation was disconcerting. He said the family plans to bring a civil suit over Jackson’s death.

Source: Jack Barnwell, Tahoe Daily Tribune

VACATION RENTAL ORDINANCE

In August, the City of South Lake Tahoe updated its fees and regulations for current and new vacation rentals; an updated fee structure added permitting requirements for new vacation rental applicants. The city is facing a lawsuit from Lake Tahoe Accommodations over the new fee structure.

South Lake Tahoe currently contains 1,600 officially permitted vacation homes, including a large number in the Tahoe Keys and Ski Run neighborhoods.

Amendments included setting Oct. 1 as the day the ordinance would go into effect, making it so inspections on current VHRs will be valid for 12 months from the date conducted and including that only new applications for properties in escrow at least 30 days can be approved.

The ordinance requires that all new VHR applications go through a public process, including notification of people within 300 feet of the proposed site, inspection of the site, time for people to protest and potentially a public hearing and appeals process.

Source: Jack Barnwell, Tahoe Daily Tribune

BIKE PARK OPENING

The highly anticipated Bijou Bike Park opened Sept. 19 as part of the City of South Lake Tahoe’s 50th anniversary celebration.

The approximately 4.75-acre, $200,000 project was originally proposed in 2011, but was met with a number of delays.

“It’s been four years of a labor of love,” TAMBA president Ben Fish said in September, explaining the lengthy approval and funding process. “The reason I’ve stuck with it is my son.”

A landscape architect by trade, Fish volunteered his time to create the initial design for the park. Elite Trax Inc. — a bike company responsible for designing Olympic BMX courses — then won the contract to build the park in association with their affiliate PumpTrax USA.

The finished park includes a BMX track, two pump tracks and three slopestyle courses, all with an emphasis on skill progression.

Source: Sebastian Foltz, Tahoe Daily Tribune

JOANN CONNER CENSURE

South Lake Tahoe City Council members voted Oct. 19 to censure one of their own following a marathon meeting in a packed city council chambers at Lake Tahoe Airport. This was a special meeting called specifically to deal with the issue.

Councilwoman JoAnn Conner was censured over her alleged bullying behavior against city staff and partner agencies. Additionally, the city council reaffirmed a decision by city manager Nancy Kerry directing staff not to interact with Conner individually.

On Dec. 9, Conner filed two lawsuits in El Dorado County Superior Court challenging the city council’s Oct. 19 vote to censure her. One of the suits challenges how the city applied its censure protocol to Conner, while the second challenges the protocol itself.

The council issued the formal disapproval of Conner because of her alleged bullying of city staff and members of partner agencies, allegations Conner denies.

Sources: Jack Barnwell and Adam Jensen, Tahoe Daily Tribune

HARD ROCK OPENS

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe celebrated its grand opening in January. It opened after undergoing a nearly $60 million, six-month transformation.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino became the center of litigation by springtime, however.

Jon and David Park, owners, raised $60 million in financing to renovate the property; and after closing the hotel, they entered an agreement with SMC Construction Co. to do the casino renovation for a maximum price of $9.6 million. They entered another contract for renovation of the towers.

The casino opened in January, but by May SMC had filed a lien seeking $18.9 million from the Parks for work they’d done. Floors of the hotel towers remained incomplete.

Then the Parks, managers of Neva One LLC, terminated their management agreement with W-G Stateline and Warner Hospitality of Las Vegas before filing a lawsuit in October, claiming they approved change orders that nearly doubled the cost of the casino’s renovation and mismanaged the hotel once it was done.

The legal battle continues to move forward without resolution.

Sources: Tahoe Daily Tribune and Kurt Hildebrand, The Record-Courier

PLANE CRASH

A single-engine plane crashed around 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 10 in a South Lake Tahoe neighborhood near Pioneer Trail and Lake Tahoe Airport. Officials on scene reported two fatalities — 73-year-old Conrad Yu of Oakley, California, and the passenger, Mary Choy, 66, of San Francisco. Yu was reportedly piloting the Beech 35 Bonanza aircraft when it crashed shortly after takeoff on a Saturday evening. No one on the ground was injured as a result of the incident. Two guests in a vacation home that caught fire after the crash escaped without injury. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the incident is ongoing.

The incident is the fourth fatal accident of its kind near the Lake Tahoe Airport since 2009.

Source: Sebastian Foltz, Tahoe Daily Tribune

DROUGHT CONTINUES, EL NIÑO ARRIVES

Following Gov. Jerry Brown’s ordered 25-percent cuts in urban water use by 2016 due to the California drought, the State Water Resources Control Board has been tabulating utility districts’ reductions, and the latest results show the Tahoe-Truckee region is exceeding goals.

Though drought continues to be an issue, many hope a strong El Niño winter will bring much needed precipitation to California and Nevada. A series of storms cycled through the region in December, dropping both snow and rain.

According to statistics taken between 12:01 a.m. Monday, Dec. 21, and 5 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 22, from the National Weather Service in Reno, Lake Tahoe’s water level rose 1.92 inches.

That’s equivalent to 19,600 acre feet of water, according to NWS — or, 6.39 billion gallons, in a span of roughly 30 hours.

Sources: Sebastian Foltz, Tahoe Daily Tribune, Kevin MacMillan, Sierra Sun, and Josh Staab, Sierra Sun

EDGEWOOD TAHOE LODGE BREAKS GROUND

City, state and Edgewood Tahoe representatives gathered along with shareholders and community members Oct. 1 to celebrate the official ground breaking for the golf course’s new lodging facility. The project is being described as a major step in both the revitalization of South Lake Tahoe tourism offerings and watershed and wildlife preservation.

When finished, the new development will include 154 hotel rooms in a new main lodge along with 40 private cabins that are expected to function under fractional ownership. The facility will also include a lakefront pool and dining offerings, as well as a 10,000 square-foot convention center and a spa. Plans additionally include a new public beach and trails connecting Nevada and California lakefront trail systems. Substantial restoration projects on Edgewood Creek, increased riparian zones and additional wetlands are also part of the plan.

Source: Sebastian Foltz, Tahoe Daily Tribune


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