S. Tahoe policymakers stall on Lakeview Commons rules


By Kathryn Reed

Lakeview Commons is described as a success beyond anyone’s imagination. But it’s not a moneymaker. Not yet, any way.

Most events take a few years before they operate in the black. But the city of South Lake Tahoe can’t be in the business of subsidizing businesses. That would be called a gift of public funds.

Last year the music and standup paddleboard vendors were able to operate at Lakeview Commons for free. No other city owned venue allows private businesses to operate without paying a rental fee.

Thursday night Live at Lakeview concerts brought out hundreds of people each week. Photo/LTN file

While the events brought locals and tourists to the waterfront location, the city lost money by having to provide personnel for upkeep to the area. That was unbudgeted money.

On Tuesday, the council had before it an item that would have set guidelines for renting Lakeview Commons. Instead of acting as the policymakers they were elected to be, they put off making a decision until the March 19 meeting.

“We received a lot of input. We cannot write a policy that favors one business or person over another,” City Manager Nancy Kerry said at the Feb. 19 meeting. “My job is to protect the city.”

Rob Giustina, who owns On Course Events and put on the free Thursday night Live at Lakeview concerts, said he lost $30,000 in 2012. Chris Brackett with South Tahoe Standup Paddle, said he operated the Wednesday night races in the red — $18,700.

Both men agreed a fee is reasonable. What they take issue with is the proposed amount — $500 to $1,000 each day/night. The range depends on the day of the week and the number of people expected. It’s estimated these events might just need to pay the half-day rental price of $325. However, Giustina mentioned how he needs time for set up and clean up, so he could be tying up the site the better part of the day. How this would affect an event going on at the site earlier in day was not discussed.

The staff report says, “Fees are calculated based on cost of maintaining the facility as a result of events during the inaugural season 2012. Rates are reduced by 35 percent of midweek rental. Private parties or weddings will be charged hourly per approved master fee schedule.”

One of Giustina’s biggest issues was the proposal to not close Lakeview Avenue to vehicle traffic. He said his insurance rates would skyrocket without that provision.

Brackett said his projection for this summer is that the standup paddle races will again be a money-losing event.

“In the future we see it as being sustainable,” he told the council.

What he said the city is not taking into consideration is how the races bring in money to the whole town because it’s not just locals participating. Plus the Race the Lake of the Sky event in June has attracted international attention for South Lake Tahoe. Brackett said his events brought in $26,000 in hotel taxes for the city last year.

Also at the March 19 meeting the council is expected to award the concessionaire contract for Lakeview Commons as well as Regan Beach and Bijou Community Park. Those entities operate seasonally and pay the city a percentage of gross revenue.

This differs from the standup paddle and concerts that at least in 2012 didn’t directly pay the city a dime, but had free access to put on events at a $6 million taxpayer funded venue.




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Comments (16)
  1. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: February 20, 2013

    Generally when a promoter puts on an event they need to pay for the venue where the event takes place. I don’t believe the businesses that put on these events last year charged the public an entry fee and thus they lost money, but they had use of that publicly owned asset/venue for free. I can’t imagine that continuing to lose money is part of their business plans so at some point they’ll likely need to start charging some type of entry fee. When that occurs this publicly owned asset that was built and paid for with taxpayer dollars won’t be available for free use by the general public. What if some other out of town promoter wants to use this venue for moneymaking purposes—should they not be charged for its use? The City as the taxpayers’ representatives can’t keep giving away use of the taxpayers’ assets for free: SLT needs the money. The same applies for this venues use regarding private weddings; if someone wants exclusive use of it they have to pay for that. When a publicly owned venue is not available for free use by the taxpayers/owners of the asset then the taxpayers need to receive monetary compensation.

  2. JoAnn Conner says - Posted: February 20, 2013

    Just to clarify: we did not agree to give any City asset away for free. There is a little more fine tuning we want to do before we set this policy, that’s all.

  3. tahoeadvocate says - Posted: February 20, 2013

    Charge to use the facility instead of installing paid parking.

  4. sunriser2 says - Posted: February 20, 2013

    How does Tahoe City handel their concerts on the commons?

    If the contractors are losing that much money how come they continue to participate?

    Maybe they could bring in less costly bands and or cooperate with one or more of the local non-profits that already has yearly alcohal insurance in place?

  5. Parker says - Posted: February 20, 2013

    Well the simple fact is they did not award the concessions to the highest bidders and they did not have an open process to select the concessionairs! And who handled picking the concessionairs? Stan Scherer! What does that tell you about the process and why it’s not making money?!

    You want to maximize the revenue at Lakeview Commons? Reopen the bids and have an open selection process that all the taxpayers can see!

  6. West Shore Gal says - Posted: February 20, 2013

    Why doesn’t the City look at the Tahoe City Commons Beach Summer Concerts as a successful example of how free concerts can be money makers and an overall success for the community.

    The Tahoe City Downtown Association runs the summer concert series and they get local business to sponsor the concerts. That way they are not operating in the red, and local businesses can get some good publicity. They even have local food trucks and restaurants sell food (for a fee of course).

    The Tahoe City Commons Beach Summer Concert Series has been hosted for years now. And there’s no logical reason why the City of South Lake Tahoe can’t do the same.

  7. scoop says - Posted: February 20, 2013

    It is the fiduciary responsibility of the City Council to collect adequate fees to ensure that this facility maintained into the future for our children. No group or event should recieve preferrential treatment.

  8. Arod says - Posted: February 20, 2013

    Less costly Acts? They paid peanuts to the headliners and did not pay local bands a dime. There are plenty of great local acts to carry a summer concert series.
    Who is Stan Scherer?
    And thank you to JoAnn Conner for her transperancy and accessability. You may be our only hope for a new vision. The old guard just does not get it.

  9. says - Posted: February 20, 2013

    Be nice if the city can find a way to do daily cleaning of the area, especially where people eat. There probably was around a hundred people there last Sunday in the afternoon standing on thick sheets of ice, be nice if the city can do something about that too.

  10. Irish Wahini says - Posted: February 20, 2013

    I agree with “West Shore Gail” — that they should operate LakeView Commons like Tahoe City Commons and thus is would be a public asset with sponsored events. Our Refuse company should be a major sponsor!

    I don’t believe we should invest money in properties that are just rented out – the City should not be in the real estate business. Why would we invest in a private rental venue? LakeView Commons is a City Park, which is for the enjoyment of the community – just like Bijou Park, etc. Many cities have concerts and movies and events in their parks that are sponsored!

  11. Firebreaker says - Posted: February 20, 2013

    LakeView Commons is an excellent asset to out town. Like the Mayor Tom Davis said “don’t screw it up”. Whatever they did last summer had the town happy in my opinion. Keep the locals there happy and keep the trash down and keep it safe for the kids with the road way. Let’s not screw it up and mess up the event promoters

  12. Julie Threewit says - Posted: February 22, 2013

    “One of Giustina’s biggest issues was the proposal to not close Lakeview Avenue to vehicle traffic.” Nancy Kerry … is this really your idea?? Are you getting pressure from the usual suspects?! Why would you want to make the events LESS safe?!

    I am not usually a fatalist but a pedestrian or bike accident would be horrible, and quite possible, without the (very little stretch of) street closure. The events are hugely successful and kids are everywhere. I think their safety needs to be addressed over the potential emergency situation in the neighborhood.

    Any idea how many emergency calls were delayed due to events last year? If I had to guess it would be ZERO. If emergency vehicles need to get into the neighborhood, they will succeed.

    I recall the two neighbors that complained about street traffic when the Commons was first proposed as part of the 56-Acre project. Their voices are often too loud but do not represent the consensus.

    It took so long and so much money, with so many good people working hard to make it happen. Please, please, please do not ruin a good thing because of a couple of squeaky wheels.

    Hang in there Rob and Chris. You have a lot of support!

  13. Stephanie Seals says - Posted: February 22, 2013

    We finally have something that brings both ends of town together, that’s not casino driven, and a few on the city council want to stop it. Wow this town is unbelievable.

  14. steve says - Posted: February 22, 2013

    The city basically gave the watercraft concession away for free. Kayak Tahoe was paying $6000 a year for it when it was a dirt hill. We bid a slightly higher amount after completion of the new park. But low and behold it was given to the current concessionaire for $2000 a season and now it sounds like that wasn’t even collected. These are the facts and you can check them in the city files. In a letter requesting an explanation form the city, I also pointed out that the minimum we bid would amount to about 20,000 more over the life of the contract, then the minimum bid that was picked.

  15. scoop says - Posted: February 23, 2013

    Perhaps LTN can do an indepth investigation prior to the March 19th City Council meeting reguarding the financial compensation the City actually recieved for all vendors in relation to Lakeview Commons for 2012.

  16. Deb Vreeland says - Posted: February 24, 2013

    So happy to hear it’s wildly successful.
    Fine tuning takes time, persistence and people who have been there done that. Use examples of like places around the country and, as someone poignantly pointed out, the other examples at the Lake. This is a GOOD thing – and if you want something to happen that makes it better – get INVOLVED. The bleachers throwing spitballs is no place to be. Congratulations again to the Team who made this a reality!Woo Hoo