South Shore trying to unchain itself from economic blight


By Kathryn Reed

For years, people on the South Shore have gathered to give voice to what they want their community to evolve into. Tuesday night was another opportunity to do more of the same.

But it was also a chance to hear from a diverse group about how some of those ideas are now projects in the ground – like Lakeview Commons and Van Sickle Bi-State Park.

Shawn Butler with the California Tahoe Conservancy talks about the bike trails his agency is working on, as well as how Van Sickle Bi-State Park provides easy access to the outdoors to the main bed base on the South Shore. Photo/LTN

Shawn Butler with the California Tahoe Conservancy talks about the bike trails his agency is working on, as well as how Van Sickle Bi-State Park provides easy access to the outdoors to the main bed base on the South Shore. Photo/LTN

A slew of speakers on March 5 updated the nearly 200 people gathered at Embassy Suites South Lake Tahoe about the completed projects, those that are about to begin, what is in the planning stages and what is in the visioning stage. They included:

• B Gorman – Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce

• Joanne Marchetta – Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

• Nancy Kerry – South Lake Tahoe

• Kim Kerr – El Dorado County

• Brandy McMahon – Douglas County

• Russ Pecoraro – Vail Resorts

• Shawn Butler – California Tahoe Conservancy

• Patrick Rhamey – Edgewood Companies

• Lew Feldman – Feldman McLaughlin Thiel (law firm)

• Christian Strobel – Basecamp Hotel

• Chris Proctor – Barton Health (physical therapist)

• Bob Sullivan – South Tahoe High School

• Karen Borges – Lake Tahoe Community College

• Carl Hasty – Tahoe Transportation District

• David Zehnder – Economic & Planning Systems (Sacramento consultant who did loop road financial study).

Their topics ranged from the South Lake Tahoe-El Dorado County recreation plan that is in its infancy, to the two area plans for the South Shore on the respective state line that are on the fast track, to Heavenly ski resort turning the mountain into a year-round playground, to retail being built at the hole this summer with a design that will complement Heavenly Village, to Barton Health eyeing property in Douglas County for a center for orthopedics, to South Tahoe High and Lake Tahoe Community College elevating K-14 education to a level not seen here before.

The overwhelming message was that the South Shore needs to embrace that it is one community and one economy with a focus on recreation.

Collaboration – public and private – was stressed. What that looks like and how much compromise will be necessary in the name of the greater good is a discussion for another night.

The underlying theme is the South Shore is failing – economically and environmentally – and something (or several things) need to change to make the area vibrant.

With the fall being beautiful and snow coming early, people have been coming to Tahoe in greater numbers than they did a year ago. South Lake Tahoe’s transient occupancy tax is up 25 percent from October 2012 through January 2013 compared to the same four months a year ago. And the number of room nights rented in January was up nearly 40 percent compared to 2012.

But as was noted at the October forum, the South Shore is losing market share to other entities.

When it was time for each of the 18 tables full of residents, business owners and interested South Shore-ites to talk among themselves they were tasked with coming up with an idea or concept of utmost importance, explain why and how it will have an economic impact on the region.

They ranged from:

• All parties need to be accountable

• More than one project every 10 years must to be completed

• Establish an outdoor music festival that isn’t in a parking lot

• Increase transportation beyond Stateline to the Y

• Create year-round employment for college educated people

• Bridge the divide between the various areas of the South Shore

• Find money for projects

• Increase community pride

• Get more people involved

• More trails and make them useable year-round

• Connect to the outside world – nationally and internationally – to get people here

• Become an arts and culture center

• Create a dynamic draw based on what Tahoe already has to bring people here.

This was the second economic forum in five months. Organizers – the Tahoe Prosperity Center, Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce and South Lake Tahoe – plan to have more in the near future.


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Comments (14)
  1. Bob says - Posted: March 6, 2013

    The overwhelming message should be that the environmental groups and government agencies of the South Shore need to embrace that it is one community and one economy with a focus on recreation.

  2. Walter says - Posted: March 6, 2013

    Sounds like a good meeting, with broad participation. And again, message is clear. We need to focus on infrastructure and recreation.

    One question: Where was the largest land management agency in Lake Tahoe??

    If Forest Service managers can’t figure out how to send representatives to these community meetings, we need new Forest Service managers.

  3. Iriah Wahini says - Posted: March 6, 2013

    It is refreshing to hear that a diverse group which included residents, brainstormed ideas that go beyond the same-old stuff. Yes, get more people involved! Invite college students to participate, and maybe get grant funding to stage a Community Planning Workshop Program – maybe associated with LTCC, as a workshop for other college students, etc. to learn how to plan community development. It could be a week-long workshop modeled after the LTCC ISSI Program (Intensive Summer Spanish Institute).

    Can’t wait to SEE progress move on the Tahole.

  4. Chief Slowroller says - Posted: March 6, 2013

    I was there last night

    it seemed to me that they were sugar coating the plans for the State Line Core

    the only speaker that seemed sincer was the guy from Basecamp hotel

    a statement by the TRPA Lady (the Town is not going to grow)

    leads me to belive that Shrink the Town is their real objective

  5. Jennifer says - Posted: March 6, 2013

    Dynamic meeting. I’m love the vision. Build it and they will come!

  6. A.B. says - Posted: March 6, 2013

    Once again, the obvious solution to the problem was not discussed.

    This is a small community, and there is way too much in the way of government regulations, restrictions & taxation.

    The solution is obvious – lower regulatory burdens, limited government, and less taxation.

    Few want to make a serious investment in this community due to the ongoing burdens in place by the City of South Lake Tahoe, TRPA, and the threat of litigation by the League to Enslave Lake Tahoe.

    Decades of excessive regulations are finally rearing their head, and the picture is not pretty.

  7. AROD says - Posted: March 6, 2013

    I think that’s Nancy speaking in the vid. She is touting the success of the Lakeview Commons concert series but for this year there are serious doubts if it will continue. The city does not want to subsidize the events and is now requiring a fee for the use of the facility and the promoter is losing money. So which is it, will the city help with the events or hinder their existence?

  8. C.Dub says - Posted: March 6, 2013

    Pffft, if the City cannot get behind the Commons music series. What is up with these folks? Old and stuffy? Cheap and short-sighted? Thay just do not seem to get it.

    I like the message. Very idealistic, very needed. BUT, can the community come together as one, without the corporate special interests lording over the outcomes?

    Where do I sign up?

  9. reza says - Posted: March 6, 2013

    Nice meeting. Lots of ideas. Now what?

    Without the different entities working together, really working together, this all goes no where.

    Who is supposed to do what next? Same problem, no leadership. No one taking the bull by the horns and getting all of these at-odds factions in the room and developing a plan.

    Bradford, Gorman, Kerry might all speak well but lets be honest. Until the enviros, businesses (small and big), the city, people who live here, counties and USFS get in a small room and agree on what they can agree on and what they can do together, its just another meeting.

    Game well played but how do you win if there is no playbook and a winning formula.

  10. dreamer says - Posted: March 6, 2013

    i agree with your comments about nancy kerry, and the city council….they are about to make so many restrictions and demands on the promoter for the live at lakeview concert events, that they may not happen…as a community we need to make our positive voices save this wonderful venue for our area!!!

    if anyone wants to help, with ideas,or just have their voice heard..go to “save live at lakeview” on facebook.

    but other than that, I am glad that the conversation is at least starting…and I hope that it will do some good for our community.

  11. orale says - Posted: March 6, 2013

    It never fails, one group accuses TRPA of wanting to shrink the town while Sierra Club is suing TRPA because it believes TRPA is for enormous growth. ay yi yi

  12. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: March 6, 2013

    On-Course Events, a local SLT event producing company produced the free Live at Lakeview Concerts on Thursday evenings last summer and they generously didn’t charge the public any attendance fee. The owner/operator of On-Course Events told the City Council at their February 19th meeting that he lost $30,000 last year producing those free to the public concerts and he noted that there were way more than 500 attendees at every concert. The City didn’t charge On-Course Events any fee last year to use the Lakeview Commons venue but after giving away free use of this City owned asset during the entire first year for this and other events the City now needs to start collecting $650 for a whole day rental and $325 for a half-day rental on Thursdays for where the concert was staged last year, with those rental fees being used to pay for all the associated maintenance/repair costs of the park so that the taxpayers won’t need to absorb those costs.

    Maybe all the people who enjoyed the free concerts last year and intend to go again this year would be willing to pay at least a nominal $2 or $3 a head fee to help defray On-Course Events costs, then they’d have the money to pay the City (aka-SLT’s taxpayers) for the use of this venue and the community as a whole wanting to work together to help a local business could make it possible for this event producing company to bring in some money, or at least not lose as much as last year. Personally I don’t see how anyone can keep producing free to the public concerts like this if they’re losing $30K on it, and since life isn’t a date maybe the concert attendees should pay a little something to this nice guy who is going to all the trouble and expense of producing this event that everyone’s raved about and enjoyed so much.

  13. dumbfounded says - Posted: March 6, 2013

    “Community Planning Workshop Program”? I went to several of those years ago with the TRPA back when I still believed in altruism. IMHO, it was an exercise in them guiding participants to their vision, nothing more. I wasted a few good nights with my family to try to be involved. They just paid consultants to push their ideas and ignored everyone’s input.

  14. Dan Stroehler says - Posted: March 7, 2013

    That is exactly the vibe I got when I visited the TTD/Loop Road open house at Harveys a few months ago.