SLT pledges to enforce outdoor display rules


By Kathryn Reed

Crappy outdoor displays are like pornography – you know it when you see it.

No true definition could be given of what a good or bad outdoor display is. That was essentially the conclusion of a workshop and online survey that South Lake Tahoe officials put together, as well as the consensus of council members on April 1.

At the workshop and online people were shown a variety of pictures – not from South Lake Tahoe – of outdoor displays. People leaned toward liking smaller, neater displays. However, larger displays of produce, tires and outdoor gear received positive feedback, too.

Anderson's bike rentals has a special use permit for its display of two-wheelers. Photo/LTN file

Anderson’s bike rentals has a special use permit for its display of two-wheelers. Photo/LTN file

But parameters must be drawn so there is a level playing field and the decision-making is less subjective. Plus, this allows officials to enforce the rules.

Solidifying outdoor display policy was one of the main items on Tuesday’s South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting. However, as much as this has been a controversial issue in the past, only one member of the public was in the audience when this item was discussed.

As Hilary Roverud, director of development services, said, it’s about balancing the needs of businesses trying to attract customers and the overall aesthetics of the city so people will want to come back and not think the town is junky.

“The majority of displays you see today are not consistent with city and TRPA code,” Roverud told the council.

TRPA doesn’t do any enforcement, while the city is sporadic with its enforcement.

The city is getting away from a tattletale type of enforcement and moving toward a more proactive approach. If code enforcement officers see a violation, they have the power to issue a warning immediately. If the infraction continues beyond two weeks, a citation may be issued.

The council unanimously adopted staff’s four recommendations:

• Continue to allow short-term, temporary outdoor displays through a temporary activity permit;

• Continue to allow 16-square-feet of adornments at entrances as long as they don’t interfere with pedestrian accessibility;

• Work with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to add types of recreational items allowed in larger displays;

• Make code enforcement a priority.

Roverud and Mayor Hal Cole, who is on the TRPA board, plan to meet with officials from the bi-state regulatory agency about the displays. TRPA rules don’t allow for standup paddleboards under the outdoor amusement category for displays. Bikes, skates and mopeds are allowed.

In other action:

• The council wants to revisit when sandwich board signs are allowed.

• The May 6 meeting was canceled because there will be renovations to council chambers to accommodate upgrades to the audio-visual room.

• Police Chief Brian Uhler will be looking at possibly creating motorcycle parking in select areas.


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Comments (26)
  1. Tempus says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    Hey I’ve got an idea, if you don’t like a display, don’t shop there, then they go out of business. Then the city council can mind their own business, and stop killing small businesses….

  2. ZZ Top says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    Hey I got an idea, if you don’t have the space inside the location you rented to operate your business, than maybe rent the proper size space for the business you intend to compete with just like in the rest of the world. That way the business that did rent the proper amount of space for their business (at a higher cost) don’t go out of business. Then the city council can get on to other things like trying to attract more business that are well managed and can pay their employees a living wage…

  3. Buck says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    Its ok for the city to have all those ugly parking kiosks and no parking signs everywhere. When paid parking goes away in August code enforcement with all its new trucks and staff will need something to do. Pick on locals and businesses. That department (community service) will have to find a way to pay for itself. We need firemen not ticket writers.

  4. Aardvark says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    Hilary Roverud, Director of development services, stated -“it’s about balancing the needs of businesses trying to attract customers and the overall aesthetics of the city so people will want to come back and not think the town is junky.”

    Are you serious? You make a statement like that but,yet, no one seems to be able to affect a change as to what it looks like at the Y? Specifically the old cars.

    I don’t like helter-skelter advertising, but, there is a difference in a small business putting out a tastefully made sandwich board versus in your face old cars.

    Basically, we have the good old boys in power and, until that changes, everything will be status quo.

  5. i agree says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    with tempus

  6. LibertyMom says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    Exactly right Buck. Sometimes the best course of action is NO course at all, not CREATE problems where there really isn’t – the City needs to quit REGULATING everything, and hurting businesses who support and are FULL time residents here. Really? You want to start ticketing displays? I am a professional designer and even though I think a lot of business owners do not have a lot of taste in the way they display their stores, etc., the LAST thing a city should be doing is ticketing and reprimanding businesses – don’t you have something better to do? Or actually you would be better to not “do” anything because when you “do” you create a mess in our town.

  7. Sliced says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    I think those parking kiosks are ugly. Regulate your own kiosks first, city gov’t. We didn’t ask for them, and we can’t control how they are operated, but aesthetically they detract from the alpine serenity.
    Idea time: I can’t understand why I can’t keep my CC open and pay when I leave to avoid double paying. Sometimes I don’t know what I’ll get into and if I pay for 2 hours when I actually stay 3, here comes a ticket. Why can’t I just keep my card open, and close out when I leave? Rental bike racks and alpaca rugs are way better.

  8. Lakeadvocate says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    We have TOO many enforcers in this town. Our City has become the enemy always looking for an opportunity to fine people for parking, not shoveling the sidewalk, displaying merchandise…….what’s next? MOST business are responsibly displaying their seasonal merchandise and there are just a few exceptions. Grocery Outlet was busted for having the tent in front of their store with produce offered……..much like the weekly farmer’s markets.
    The City needs to stop policing every part of our town with the intent of making a buck on the fines.
    It is next to impossible for businesses to survive in our seasonal economy and this decision will cause harm to many of those businesses still hanging on.

  9. A.B. says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    Government is not the solution to our problems, government IS the problem.

  10. rock4tahoe says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    AB. That was from some two bit actor in the 80’s. When there is a BIG problem to fix, it sure isn’t Exxon, BP, Toyota, GM or the Chamber of Commerce that’s going fix the problem.

  11. Shenja says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    To the city: LISTEN! We don’t need your time wasted on crap! Address some issues that we” the people” really care about! If your so worried about the ” look of our town” why don’t you go after crapy buiseness owners.. Not the little guy tring to make it!

  12. Av8rGal says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. The roads around here are a wreck. “City Hall” is dilapidated. There are run down motels that have turned into long term housing along Lake Tahoe Boulevard & Emerald Bay Road. Empty storefronts are the norm. Yet the local government wants to regulate and enforce a sign ordinance?

    Something doesn’t add up here. If our roadways are falling apart, shouldn’t that be a priority?

  13. Buck says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    Give the ticket writers a shovel and a bag of asphalt instead of a pen and a pad of tickets. They already have new trucks. Win Win!

  14. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    Shenja, Settle down Girl! (just kidding) Yes, I agree the city has a lot more important things they could be focusing on other than outdoor displays. I say lets go the other way, just do it tastefuly.
    Speaking of outdoor displays the city should pressure John Runnels to paint those cars or move them. That old Buick out front would look fine with a nice two tone paint job and a new set of tires.
    How about the local guy that makes those incredibly beautiful wooden paddle boards. I’d love to see a few of those along hwy 50.
    The Sportsman, put some rental skiis outfront and a few fishing poles.
    I don’t want hwy 50 to look like a flea market, but we should, as a small town
    let the small business owner show their wares! Local business owners are struggling to make ends meet, don’t hamper them further.
    Lets promote business and tourisim on So. Shore, not squash it. OLS (maybe I should be in marketing or dare I say it a consultant??) UURRPP ,Sorry, just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

  15. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    This article stated the following:


    How come you people with the time to complain about this on this blog didn’t take the time to show up at the meeting and tell the City Council what you think, or just write them a letter or send them a two-sentence email?

    And for you people STILL complaining about paid parking, do you even know that you’ll get to vote on that in June? But to be able to participate in the election you will need to be a registered voter, and registering to vote does take a modicum effort on your part. That may prove too difficult for some, or maybe just too much work when it’s so much easier to just sit back and b**ch after the fact than take some proactive action.

  16. copper says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    Hey, USMC, you and I both know the answer. It only takes a few seconds to jump on a comments page or an internet forum – as often as not we’re trying to take seriously something that popped into the mind of some poster, and had probably popped back out by the time he(she)have made their post and gone on to something else.

    And then there’s the folks out on some extreme wing who post here because most internet forums would toss them.

    I’ve realized that it accomplishes little or nothing to take seriously the ramblings on these forums of folks who’s actual beliefs are as short lived as their attention spans or as extreme as the world they imagine they live in.

  17. Hmmm... says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    Pledge to enforce…Endeavor to persevere…

  18. Sally says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    speaking of “crappy outdor displays”….get rid of the eye sore, auto junk yard on the corner of 89 and Lake Tahoe Blvd @ The Y. Not exactly eye pleasing!!!

  19. tahoemom says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    I wish the city council meetings would occur when I could attend, like NOT in the middle of a tuesday work day…………seriously, most people work 1,2,3 jobs to make it………..somehow the city council operates on the schedule when MOST people cannot come to voice their opinion! Seems a lot like taxation without representation……..since the council members tend to vote on their personal opinion rather than that of their constituency!

  20. KATHY says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    I liked the hot dog stand in Myers ,right off the highway before coming to Lake Tahoe ,He buys hot dogs a 100, a package and sells them for 2,00 ,doing good for himself, He tells everyone that stops there ,WELCOME TO LAKE TAHOE ,ALL THE POWER TO HIM,

  21. Dogula says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    USMC, a lot of us do not live within the city limits. The city council doesn’t give a rat’s patootie what we think; we don’t get to vote for, nor against, the city councilmembers. So we don’t feel particularly welcome.

  22. sunriser2 says - Posted: April 2, 2014

    If people really want a neat and tidy sterile atmosphere they could go to North Star.

    The town is on its way back. Leave the businesses alone. If the displays didn’t work they wouldn’t be used. They just reported that sales taxes are up. If they’re worried about people returning stop giving parking tickets.

    This smells like busy work for the meter maids.

  23. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: April 3, 2014

    Children make excuses. And people wonder why the El Dorado County rulers consider South Lake Tahoe their unwanted stepchild.

  24. Shenja says - Posted: April 3, 2014

    Ols… I appriciate your reading my post and I always agree with your comments. However.. I must correct you when u assume that I’m a girl… I guess you weren’t at the last Meyers meeting?…

  25. copper says - Posted: April 4, 2014

    With all due respect, usmc, the more that El Dorado County “rulers” dismiss South Lake Tahoe, the happier South Lake Tahoe should be. SLT government has enough problems without the County jumping in and making them worse.

    Fortunately, from accounts I’ve heard, admittedly somewhat out of date, the County has no longer any interest in getting South Lake Tahoe back in line – which is one small bit of good news.

    I go back far enough to remember when the EDSO substation commander and his wife were so opposed to the formation of the City that she ran for City Council, won the election, and eventually became mayor. And created the first, and likely the last, job action among city employees that got the attention of most of Northern California.

    South Lake Tahoe has enough problems; any involvement by the County, which has plenty of its own, would only make things worse.

  26. Hmmm... says - Posted: April 4, 2014

    Dogula doesn’t live in TahoeSouth but she wants a say in TahoeSouth. Poor thing. Wonder what she could do to remedy that situation…..