County Acquires Tourist Accommodation Units for Improving Tahoe Basin Lodging

Published on February 26, 2015

Lake Tahoe competes for visitors with other destination resort areas not only around the state, but around the globe. While the attraction of the lake and the area’s reputation for year-round recreation are world renowned, the area’s lodging properties often do not live up to the beauty and recreational focus of the basin.

The town centers of Kings Beach and Tahoe City have suffered in recent decades due to the lack of new or upgraded mid-range to high-quality lodging. Of the 11 transient lodging units currently operating in the town centers, most were built between 1949 and 1959, with the most recent project completed in 1962.

But building new lodging properties requires tourist accommodation units (TAU), a Tahoe Regional Planning Agency-designated commodity. With a finite number of TAU in the Tahoe Basin, their acquisition is necessary for any development to occur. At the direction of the Board of Supervisors, county staff began looking at acquiring TAU from other jurisdictions in the basin. That search led county staff to a motel in South Lake Tahoe that was likely built in a sensitive environmental area.

On Tuesday, the Placer County Board of Supervisors OKd the purchase of that property, the A&A Motel. Plans call for the motel to be demolished and the land restored to its natural state. Placer County will then bank the 34 TAU from the site. With plans to use the TAU in a town center in either Kings Beach or Tahoe City, the county could earn a Tahoe Regional Planning Agency 3:1 bonus, increasing the number of acquired TAU to 102.

The importance in providing new lodging options to the North Lake Tahoe visitor is backed my studies that show that it is the overnight visitor who spends the majority of the tourism dollars in the Tahoe Basin. In addition, by focusing the development into the town centers, urban sprawl is prevented and environmentally superior pedestrian-transit oriented mixed-use development is created. These communities reduce pollution by decreasing the number of automobile miles traveled in the basin.

Another benefit to the environment is that with increased revenues comes additional capital to create more environmental improvement projects.

The purchase agreement contains a key provision that provides for a 180-day Investigation Period during which the county can perform due diligence on the project prior to completing the acquisition.