S. Tahoe identifies 12 acres for concert venue

The clearing in the distance could be an area for a stage. Photos/Kathryn Reed

The clearing in the distance could be an area for a stage. Photos/Kathryn Reed

By Kathryn Reed

An outdoor concert venue that isn’t a parking lot. A setting that embraces the natural environment. A site that could be used year-round. A place that would have limited impact to residents.

It does exist in South Lake Tahoe.

City officials are looking at the possibility of turning 12 acres at Lake Tahoe Airport into an event center.

The Federal Aviation Administration has already given the OK to have special events there on a case-by-case basis. Through the airport master plan process the city is seeking to designate this area non-aviation. If that goes through, then the city can do what it wants with the land without permission from the FAA.

“It’s common sense this is non-aviation,” City Manager Nancy Kerry said while walking the property with Councilwoman Wendy David.

The City Council has approved a cost benefit study to be done. Engineers will be brought out to assess the site.

Much of the property sits a few hundred feet below Highway 50, paralleling Kyburz Avenue. This means little road noise for attendees and less chance of concert sounds drifting to residences.

Plus, the density of trees will help absorb the sound.

South Lake Tahoe City Manager Nancy Kerry, right, gives Councilwoman Wendy David a tour March 14 of the proposed event center site.

South Lake Tahoe City Manager Nancy Kerry, right, gives Councilwoman Wendy David a tour March 14 of the proposed event center site.

Walking farther into the space the quieter it gets. It’s like being in the wilderness even though civilization is so close.

Kerry said people are looking for an experience beyond listening to music. This setting would be designed to provide just that.

“They don’t want to bother your environment, they want to be in your environment,” she said.

South Lake Tahoe has been looking for a site to stage music festivals ever since SnowGlobe came to town in 2011. It brings more than 10,000 people each night to what is a three-day music festival at the ball field at Lake Tahoe Community College, and millions of dollars to the local economy. But it also brings wear-and-tear to the synthetic field, and noise complaints from neighbors.

The airport parcel is larger than the area used at the college for SnowGlobe.

The idea is not to build large structures or lots of permanent seating. Limited terraced seating would be created. At most multi-day outdoor festivals everyone is standing – often dancing.

Some infrastructure is in place – like a concrete slab from when this site was a summer boys and girls camp, and sewer capacity. A segment of a paved road from the corner of Kyburz Avenue and Melba Road remains and could be the route where vendors would access the facility.

Electricity would need to be brought to the area, fencing installed, some trees removed and one storm drain would need to be put underground.

Part of the trail that exists is wide enough for vehicles.

Part of the existing trail is wide enough for vehicles.

A future bike trail through this area is already on the books. That is the route that would likely be developed for attendees to use. It’s already a distinct path that is well used by cyclists. Interpretive signs could be erected to educate the public about the forest, what being a steward of the land is about and other Tahoe-centric things.

Kerry said she envisions the entrance being at the defunct airport control tower. Parking would be at the airport, along with shuttles from other parts of town to the venue. People would then walk into the forest, a bridge going over the creek would be built and then multiple tents might be erected – like SnowGlobe – so various acts could be playing at the same time.

It’s also possible this site would be used for more than music events.

Originally, this parcel was slated to be commercial development to complement airport needs. With the city deciding to forgo trying to establish this as a commercial airport again, the need for ancillary businesses is a moot point.

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    Comments (22)
    1. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      12 acres for an outdoor concert venue and NOT in a parking lot. Now we’re Talking!!! Come on city council and approve this as it would be a great addition to So. Shore. Long overdue. Please let this happen. OLS

    2. Slapshot says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      Finally a potential great solution for events.

    3. Tahoeboater says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      So the solution is to move the noise from OLS’s neighborhood to someone else’s neighborhood! At least SnowGlobe is once a year. This proposal is for a year-round site. Many homes would be affected by the noise. This is another example of City officials forgetting the interests of residents. Councilwoman Wendy David should know better.

    4. Moral Hazard says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      OLS, where are the attendees going to stay?

      This puts one trip in a car from the attendees hotel and then one trip in a car back to the hotels. Wonderful, there is no way there could be a better idea.

      But at least we can be assured nobody will walk to Nevada, because after all that is what is really important.

    5. legal beagle says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      Sounds like a good possibility. (pun intended) Maybe some realistic decibel testing to determine how far sound would carry and who would be impacted.

    6. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      Moral Hazard, There are lots of places near the Y that could accomodate attendees. Tahoe valley Campground, many motels with low occupancy numbers who would welcome some paying guests, and when Meyers starts getting developed probably rooms there as well.
      There are so many empty homes in town that could be rented out to concert goers and maybe bring in some much needed TOT to the city which benefit us all in city improvements.
      Lets keep the money spent right here within city boundaries and better our town and provide an outdoor venue which will be good for locals and vistors alike. OLS

    7. Gaspen Aspen says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      They should knock down the roach infested trailer park nearby and use it for attendees parking.

    8. Mr mustache says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      That would be unfair to the roaches.

    9. sunriser2 says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      Watch the Casinos and NV Chamber kill this idea. I can see them funding and organizing the homes owners off of Pioneer Trail against this plan.

      Will be an interesting fight most of the homes that may be affected aren’t within the city limits. I can smell a lawsuit coming.

      I think it’s a great idea having people bike to the concerts.

    10. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      This is really good news for our community. With the updates to the Airport Master Plan along with the TRPAs Regional Plan Update there will finally be some ability to make progress.

      Congratulations to Nancy Kerry and the City’s staff for once again demonstrating their ingenuity and the proficiency to recognize a problem and then identify solutions.

    11. Steve says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      Likely the highest and best use of the airport since the departure of Air Cal and PSA.

    12. LeanForward says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      Great news for South Lake Tahoe! I agree with OLS, lets get this thing approved!

    13. Buck says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      Sunriser2: I bet we will the Harrahs and Harveys shuttle busses resurrected.

    14. sunriser2 says - Posted: March 16, 2015


      I hope you’re correct. But I think they will see this as competition for the loop road chili cook-off BS.

    15. dumbfounded says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      The absolute lack of historical relevance is appalling. The bar at the airport was shut down, closed, put out of business and run out of town a few years ago because of a few complaints from the east side of the airport. And that particular venue attempted to mitigate the noise by shutting down live music at 10:00pm, closing their windows during the music and encouraging low volume levels, it was still not good enough. Suddenly, there are no problems with noise at the airport? What has changed?

    16. careaboutthecommunity says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      This could be a win all around, even the concertgoers that were packed in too tightly last year, sounds like this site is much bigger, and a small amount of infrastructure can be built out to make this a really nice outdoor concert venue.

      Also, this is going to bring a lot of business to the Y and Meyers areas, deep into the California side, some will stay at the casinos still, but many will want to stay close to the venue.

      Will be exciting to have Summer concerts, and different mixes of music.

      It will be imperative to do a good job with transportation to and from the venue, lots of mistakes to learn from with SnowGlobe ;)

    17. Sunriser2 says - Posted: March 16, 2015


      The woman who shut down the airport bar left town shortly after she put them out of business. Also the article claims the music would be directed toward a dirt bank below hwy 50.

      Are you the unofficial start of the casino push back against this idea??

    18. tahoeanhiker says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      I do not like all the cars going back and forth.
      I think this alone would be a step backward for air pollution and traffic not to mention public safety with all the drunk, drugged out people going back and forth. See the article on the recent head on fatality in MEYERS from an out of towner ..

      The only place this event belongs is at the stateline period.

    19. Perry R. Obray says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      Actual venue area might be a lower elevation than residential units, theoretically lowering some noise. Substance use will most likely be a serious concert issue. Probably a great ambiance being in a somewhat pristine forest atmosphere.

    20. reloman says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      Gaspan where would they get the millions to purchase the trailer park? Really not sure if this would be enough to help the motels down at the Y, unless they are forced to become nightly rentals again because of the possible ordinance change as most of the motels down there are long term 7 out of the 10 are long term. They would have to generate 11k a year per room to make it worth it to them. There would have to be concerts there every weekend to generate that much money

    21. dumbfounded says - Posted: March 16, 2015

      No, not at all Sunriser2. I have the historical perspective of a long-time resident. The City effected the shut down, not the alleged “woman”. My comment makes no suggestion to move the venue to the casinos. I merely point out the apparent change in City viewpoint. I have no dog in this fight but I do expect consistency in our governance. Is that somehow wrong? I like the idea of small business being allowed to operate their business without petty politics or a single individual having the power to decide who stays in business or not.

      I have some serious issues with traffic clogging the main artery between Meyers and Barton for hours during a concert, but again, I am not a decision-maker. Further, I see the potential for concert-goers to end up on a runway in the dark with landing or departing aircraft, potentially ending in disaster. Personally, if it were to go as suggested, I would probably choose to leave town for the duration of the event due to the noise. But, I have the ability to do that, many others do not.

      On the positive side, there may be ways to mitigate the traffic and the unauthorized access to the airport runway. However, there is no doubt that the view that the City presents regarding noise has changed. And that inconsistency flies in the face of history and will make the enforcement of any noise restrictions (such as vacation rentals) more difficult, in my humble opinion. Whenever regulations are exempted, it dilutes the law, which results in more law-breaking followed by arbitrary application of law.

    22. sunriser2 says - Posted: March 17, 2015


      Good points I would hope they could be addresses up front instead of by trial and error like Snow Globe.

      I know what it’s like to live next to live music. I live a block or so behind Brothers Bar. As long as they don’t play the bass heavy music its kind of nice to listen to it in the summer.

      After one disturbance a few years ago the city has done a great job of issuing the permits.

      I hope when it snows again some day Snow Globe type events will not be necessary.