Sustainable North Lake Tahoe redevelopment gets a boost from new Placer County incentives program

Published on October 21, 2015

An incentive program aimed at supporting environmental redevelopment projects in North Lake Tahoe town centers was unanimously approved today by the Placer County Board of Supervisors.

The North Lake Tahoe Town Centers Economic Development Incentive Program and Implementation Plan creates an incentive program that aims to offset the high costs of redevelopment in the Tahoe Basin. Redevelopment projects in Tahoe City and Kings Beach will benefit from tourist accommodation unit cost offsets and infrastructure cost offsets. The program seeks to build more certainty into the development and permitting processes, reducing the risk to investors interested in projects in the North Tahoe communities.

“We’ve heard the message loud and clear that there is tremendous potential for improving the communities of North Tahoe, but that the hurdles to making those investments are too high,” said Chris Perry, manager of the new incentive program. “By working to remove those hurdles, we can make significant environmental improvements, strengthen our communities, increase economic vitality and ensure Tahoe remains a premier tourist destination.”

Placer County recently hired Perry, in part, to serve as a liaison to project developers and help them navigate the application process.

With the board’s approval, county staff will immediately begin developing the procedures for administering the program. Seed funding for the TAU program would be provided by capital and transient occupancy tax reserves and the county general fund; funding for the infrastructure program would come from a variety of sources, including grants and land-secured financing arrangements. County projections forecast that the investment of county resources in the incentive program will over time result in increased tax revenue that more than pays for the program.

In line with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Regional Plan Update and the county’s draft Tahoe Basin Area Plan, the redevelopment encouraged by the incentive program is expected to spur further sustainable development in the town centers and support more year-round residents and jobs.

Approximately 72 percent of the sediment that pollutes Lake Tahoe comes from developed areas, many of which pre-date the environmental regulations that currently protect Lake Tahoe. Redeveloping blighted areas in the downtown centers provides the opportunity for more environmentally-friendly buildings and restoration projects, helping preserve Tahoe’s prized clarity.

Under the new incentive program, Placer County would buy and bank tourist accommodation units and make them available to developers that meet prescribed environmental and community vision standards, in order to provide more certainty in the project planning process. In the ecologically sensitive Tahoe basin, the overall number of allowed lodging units is fixed. For new lodging projects, developers must buy existing tourist accommodation units.

The county will also work to decrease the cost to developers of providing parking, which can cost up to twice the cost per space in the Tahoe area than outside of the basin. Making better use of existing parking spaces and reviewing opportunities to change parking regulations to make providing parking less burdensome are two other strategies under the program, as well as exploring financing assistance options for major infrastructure work that may be necessary to support redevelopment projects.