South Lake Tahoe approves lease for Verizon cell tower |

South Lake Tahoe approves lease for Verizon cell tower

Jack Barnwell

The South Lake Tahoe City Council has approved a lease to install a cellular tower at Bijou Golf Course.

City Manager Nancy Kerry said Tuesday the lease begins the permitting process Verizon needs to go through with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to build the tower. The city would receive an annual income of $18,000 from Verizon during the five-year contract. Kerry suggested the city should earmark the revenue for recreation or activities at Bijou Golf Course.

The wireless giant can opt to renew the contract through three, five-year extensions.

City Development Services Director Shawna Brekke-Read said staff has prepared the permit for TRPA approval and is looking at whether environmental studies are needed.

Councilman Austin Sass cautioned that nearby residents will need to be notified.

“There’s always some noise out there about the effects that cellphone towers have on people,” Sass said.

He asked if the city could opt out of the lease if research shows concrete evidence of adverse effects.

Brekke-Read said that notification would be conducted as part of the permitting process.

City Attorney Tom Watson said that, since the lease was in five-year increments and the city had to follow local, state and federal regulations for the application process, the agreement could be terminated under those guidelines.

“Thus far it has been a mixed bag,” Watson said. “There has been new regulation on electronic and electromagnetic emanations that has come out of the state government in the last several years.”

Some council members jokingly hoped that the wireless tower would increase their cell service.

“I’m with Verizon and this tower would make it so my phone would work at my own house,” Mayor Hal Cole quipped.

Councilwoman Wendy David supported the revenue going toward recreation programs.

“It gives us a little more latitude for some of the projects we want to do,” David said.

The council approved the lease agreement with the stipulation that a cost escalator based on the Consumer Price Index be included.

Also at this week’s meeting:

The city may revisit its sign permit policy in September and look at setting fees based on cost recovery for services. Kerry said that, while the adopted policy was a good one, it had unintended consequences.

Kerry said a quick fix could be an over-the-counter permit process adhering to TRPA code. Currently, permit fees for a locally unique sign run at $3,972 and a sign application revision costs $577.

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