South Lake Tahoe Planning Commission approves 16-unit luxury condo project near Stateline

A photo illustration shows what the 16-unit condo/hotel units will look like once the project is complete.
Photo illustration provided

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Planning commissioners put their stamp of approval on a continued development project near Stateline in the tourist core.

About 30 were in attendance at the Lake Tahoe Airport Dec. 13 when the Planning Commission unanimously approved a 16-unit condominium hotel project at The Chateaus in South Lake Tahoe. The primary concern for those who spoke: parking.

The condo units will be constructed above the existing retail stores along U.S. 50 across from Heavenly Village.

The Chateaus project is one of several components of a larger redevelopment project originally approved by City Council and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in 1998.

Construction was never initiated and the project was reduced in scope in 2007 and again approved by council and TRPA.

Lyn Barnett, of Wells Barnett & Associates, representing the Stardust Lodge, among his many issues railed against the use of a 20-year-old parking study and said the city needs to revisit the parking issue before giving approval.

He also shared parking issues for the lodge.

“Stardust has a constant monitoring problem where they never have had,” Barnett said. “We’re averaging 60 tows per year and guests coming in late at night can’t find a place to park and Stardust is paying for those tickets. It’s increasing costs and the parking costs are being externalized and being forced on the neighborhood.”

Steve Teshara, CEO of the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce, told commissioners during the public hearing that the chamber hears “what the Stardust is saying” but the parking issue is much larger than this project.

“This process is scheduled to start in January so … we look forward to you approving the project,” Teshara said.

Local attorney Bruce Grego told commissioners the city should focus on parking issues. He recommended the city do more analysis before approving the project.

“The city continues to approve projects and what happens is we have insufficient parking,” Grego said. “We need to reevaluate this.”

Nick Exline, representing the Chateaus, told planners that TRPA is the only group without a dog in the fight.

“There’s been lots of discussion, but we’re here to talk about 16 units that have already been approved by the TRPA,” Exline said. “I get paid to represent the Chateaus, Mr. Barnett is paid by the Stardust, the only one not being paid is the TRPA.”

Following the hearing, Kevin Fabino, the city’s development services director, tried to focus commissioners on what was in front of them, and it wasn’t about parking.

“You have a project that has had all the analysis and due diligence completed,” Fabino said.

Commissioner Jenna Palacio said she empathized with Stardust and their concerns but that it wasn’t the Chateaus’ problem — it’s a city problem, she said.

“It’s time to embrace change, it’s here and happening,” Palacio said. “We’re talking about 16 units. I’d hate to see the permit lapse and have to start all over again.”

Commissioner Diana Madson agreed parking was a bigger issue and that Measure T passing will exacerbate that, but “this project seems valuable for the community.”

Commissioners Kili Ongoy and vice-chair Craig Woodward agreed and unanimously approved the project, with a condition the architects fix the roof pitch to make it compliant.

The issue will go before City Council at a future meeting.

In other news: The commission, led by Woodward, held a moment of silence at the beginning of the meeting for the late Judy Brown, who was chair of the commission and died Dec. 8. A resolution for Brown was on the agenda but wasn’t ready and will be pushed to next month’s meeting.

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