By Kathryn Reed
TAHOE CITY – The California Tahoe Conservancy realizes it created a public relations nightmare for itself when it put 330 parcels in the asset lands program.
“We created a perception with some in the public that all 330 parcels are ready to go,” Patrick Wright, CTC executive director, said at the Sept. 19 board meeting at Granlibakken.
He wants to come back to the board with revised guidelines for the program. The original guidelines were devised in March 2012. Wright added that he doubts more than a dozen of the parcels would be sold in the next decade.
“It does seem to me parcels incorporated into neighborhoods should remain open space,” Wright told the board. “We really need to move very slowly and very carefully. That is why you only have two in front of you.”
The board unanimously agreed to sell the Tallac Vista site on Sherman Way and the old drive-in movie theater property on Glenwood Way to Jack and Walsie Jennings. Both properties are in South Lake Tahoe. The couple submitted the higher of two bids on the first property at $1.4 million, and was the only bidder for the second property at $355,000.
The city and El Dorado County will benefit a bit because the 15.46-acre and 8.43-acre sites will generate property tax for those entities now that they will be privately owned.
The Conservancy owns 4,890 parcels in the Lake Tahoe Basin. They have been acquired in a variety of ways – through a litigation settlement and a trade with South Lake Tahoe for the two properties that were just sold. Some have been deeded to the state agency and others bought with bond money.
In the 30-plus year history of the Conservancy this is the first time it has disposed of property for cash.
“Asset lands are parcels of land within the Conservancy’s ownership which are not essential to carrying out Conservancy goals, which could have significant market value, and which are not otherwise restricted from disposal by law or board policy,” according the CTC’s program guidelines.
Ann Nichols, who has been a real estate agent in the basin for years, told the board the public needs to be informed it will no longer have access to property and that a much greater area than those within 300 feet of the property need to be notified of the potential sale.
“I was told you weren’t going to sell sensitive land,” Nichols said in regard to the Sherman Way property. “It shouldn’t be that you can sell sensitive parcels just because you put on conservations easements.”
The Sherman Way site is on a steep hill that was once going to have 150 condominiums on it. It borders Heavenly Mountain Resort and has views of Lake Tahoe.
CTC is requiring no more than 3.15 acres of this property be developed and that the remaining 12-plus acres forever be a conservation easement. At most a single-family residence, guesthouse and outbuildings could be built on it. Either that, or the existing structure could be upgraded. The restrictions are to forever remain with the property.
At the old drive-in location the same building restrictions apply along with a conservations easement over stream zones.
The Conservancy plans to use the money from the sale of these properties for land management activities in the basin and environmental improvement projects.