Lakeside private school proposal at Tahoe faces challenges
January 22, 2014
IF YOU GO
What: Placer County Board of Supervisors public hearing
When: 3:10 p.m.. Tuesday, Jan. 21
Where: North Tahoe Event Center, 8318 North Lake Blvd., Kings Beach
How to comment: Send written comments to email@example.com by 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17, as county offices will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
KINGS BEACH, Calif. — Rough waters may be on the horizon for a North Shore lakefront private school proposal if preliminary concerns from Placer County and locals are any indicator.
Tahoe Expedition Academy aims to build a 15-classroom campus with a performing arts center and waterfront interpretation center, among other features, off Highway 28 in the heart of Kings Beach.
In late 2013, the private school entered into an agreement with owners of the Ferrari Crown Resort at 8200 North Lake Blvd. to purchase a 1.4-acre property that includes the Crown Motel, Falcon Lodge and the roadside portion of the Goldcrest Resort.
"As a family, this is the one investment we have together," said Dave Ferrari, co-owner of the Crown. "This was a hard decision because it is not only our business for many years, but it's our family home. But it's the right time, and for us, we're happy with the school and the school use."
The Ferraris will retain the lakeside portion of the Goldcrest, he said.
Due to a non-disclosure policy between the Ferraris and TEA, there's been limited information released on the project until recently, said Mark Ferris, board chair for TEA.
The academy has been looking for property for more than a year after outgrowing the facility it rents at 8651 Speckled Ave., Ferris said.
Since opening in 2011, the school has gone from 74 students to 134.
To date, TEA has raised $12 million for the project, which is expected to cover the cost of purchasing the land and building renovations.
Incline Village resident and parent Jim Kaplan said he is in favor of the lakeside school.
"There's no better way to start a redevelopment project than with a core like this," he said at an open house hosted by TEA Wednesday night. "… We're going to get the daily traffic, which is going to bring all the customers to the retailers' doorstep on a daily basis."
Others, however, have concerns.
"I want the school in Kings Beach," wrote Theresa May Duggan, of Tahoe Vista, in a My Turn column to the Sierra Sun. "It's a wonderful resource and would be a great facility, but a lakefront location isn't the right place. And just because it's an allowed use doesn't mean it's a good idea.
"The community has to understand what it means to have a school on Main Street."
During Wednesday's open house, many questions were posed by the hundreds in attendance, ranging from potential for increased traffic along the busy stretch of highway, to impacts to the many surrounding businesses in the area.
Another concern lies with the school's actual location itself.
The Placer County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote next Tuesday on an interim ordinance prohibiting certain uses in the Tahoe City, Kings Beach and North Stateline community plan boundaries — including schools.
"We've had several inquiries brought to light that maybe some currently allowed uses aren't exactly in line with the long-term vision for future town center areas," said Paul Thompson, assistant director for Placer County's Community Development Resource Agency.
A 4-1 or 5-0 vote is needed for the ordinance to pass. If adopted, it would go into effect immediately for 45 days, during which an extension of 10 months, 15 days can be requested, Thompson said. The extension would need approval by the supervisors.
The Tahoe Basin Community Plan update — a document that will contain broad-based planning policies for Tahoe Basin land within Placer County — is expected to be adopted by supervisors by the end of 2014, Thompson said.
"I respect the county for doing what (it) feels is necessary, and we are just trying to make the best project that we can for the students, for the community and for the future of education," Ferris said.
Ideally, TEA would like to break ground this spring in order to have the campus ready for Sept. 1, Ferris said.
"The more we get held up by the county, the less likely that is to happen," he said.