Women’s Center at odds with TRPA | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Women’s Center at odds with TRPA

Robert Stern

The South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center will need to find a new place to store a large portion of donations of clothes, furniture and household items because six storage trailers that hold these items violate Tahoe Regional Planing Agency and city codes.

The storage trailers are in a stream environment zone, deemed environmentally sensitive by the TRPA.

“We don’t typically allow structures in a stream environment zone temporary or otherwise,” said Pam Drum, public relations officer for the TRPA.

Inge and Arnold Luke, who own U-Consign-It, an A-frame building, located at 2124 US Highway 50, work with the Women’s Center to provide storage for donated items both in their primary building and in storage trailers. The trailers have been at the location since the early 1990s.

The problem is the Lukes don’t have a legal right to have the trailers on that property.

“She might have destroyed vegetation, and she is rerouting drainage and destroying the natural environment,” said Pam Atwood, associate city planner.

In spring 1999, the city took over enforcement for several of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s codes, including temporary structures, and is working to correct violations.

The Lukes accept donations for the Women’s Center through their store, because the center does not have space to hold the items.

“The Women’s Center gets so many donations from the community,” said Louis Denowitz, community educator for the Women’s Center. “The community is so wonderful. They respond all the time with furniture and clothing. The biggest problem is storage, because we certainly don’t want to turn anyone away who wants to donate to the Women’s Center.”

Donations for the Women’s Center go to U-Consign-It, which also sells second-hand items to the public. When the store receives donations for the Women’s Center, it estimates the value and gives the Women’s Center credit, which the center turns into vouchers handed out at the Women’s Center. The Women’s Center as of Feb. 20 had $1,262 in credit at U-Consign-It.

“(The vouchers) can go toward anything that a family needs,” Denowitz said. “That is what really makes the program work.”

But Inge Luke is not happy with the city’s decision and wants to continue to provide storage for the Women’s Center or at least get an extension until she can find a place for the storage trailers to go. The Lukes also leave anything that has the slightest defect in boxes next to the trailers at the end of each night for people who can’t afford to pay for the second-hand items or to go to the women’s center for vouchers.

“We provide anything that a family could use,” Luke said.

The city is giving the Lukes until March 23 to find a new place for the storage trailers.

“We’re going to work with them to relocate them somewhere, but we have to remove them from the site,” Atwood said.

The Lukes rent the land from Edward Givant and Eva Harrison, who agree with the city that the storage trailers should be moved.

“They should do exactly what the city tells them to do because that is the law,” Edward Givant said.

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