‘Significant and serious’ says one city council candidate | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Significant and serious’ says one city council candidate

Susan Wood

Most of the six candidates running in November for three South Lake Tahoe City Council seats believe the city will experience an impact from the Miwok tribe building a casino in Shingle Springs.

But a few were uncertain what the city deserves out of the deal that’s expected to bring nearly $200 million into El Dorado County general-fund coffers over a 20-year period. The county struck the deal last week when it agreed to drop its lawsuits against the tribe in exchange for the money designed to offset impacts such as traffic and law enforcement burdens.

The following remarks regarding what the city should get out of the deal, if anything, were submitted Monday to the Tahoe Daily Tribune from candidates Tom Wendell, a recreational enthusiast; Michael Phillips, real estate agent; incumbent Kathay Lovell; innkeeper Jerry Birdwell and businessman Tom Davis. They’re vying for Lovell’s seat as well as those to be vacated by Councilmen John Upton and Hal Cole.

Wendell: “If the county was smart, it would help the city compete with these people. I think (this decision) is a terrific motivator for Tahoe to step up to the plate and be a green community. This is an opportunity to erase the state line,” he said, adding the opportunity serves as leverage for the city. “We should be considered for grant funding, putting us first in line for projects and fixing our roads. Certainly, they’d know it would hurt us economically.”

Crawford: “For almost two decades, the South Lake Tahoe occupancy rate has performed poorly. No casino has been responsible for that,” he said, disagreeing with Wendell. “And South Shore casinos have performed poorly compared to other places in the state. I’m not worried about a casino down in Shingle Springs. I’m worried about the city providing a better product for visitors and business people who want to invest in the community.”

Phillips: “I don’t think the city has too much influence over the county. Indian gaming has been creeping on our tail for the last 10 to 15 years. It was just a matter of time. We need to showcase all the amenities Tahoe has to offer,” he said, admitting he questions whether the city deserves anything.

Birdwell: “I’d want to know what’s in the agreement,” he said, also wondering what the city deserves. “I’d want to look at the whole situation and look at the lawsuit.”

Lovell: “We need to wait to see what the county has to say. It’s premature. (Tahoe Supervisor) Norma (Santiago) has got to fight for Tahoe, and she will,” she said, adding the situation further validates city redevelopment efforts. “We had suspicions that eventually this was going to happen. I’m very concerned about the impacts, but gaming is no longer the driving force (in Tahoe). This makes the convention center (projects) more important.”

Davis: “The good news is, we knew it was coming. But we need additional sales tax revenue, (transient occupancy tax) and businesses,” he said, agreeing with Lovell on the city’s focus of redeveloping. “This is significant and serious.”

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