TV report: Drugs, bugs inside soon-to-be-demolished Lake Tahoe hotel
What is a Tourist Accommodation Unit?
— TRPA defines a TAU as a unit with one or more bedrooms and with or without cooking facilities, primarily designed to be rented by the day or week and occupied on a temporary basis.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Sacramento resident Don Simmons, referenced in the story below, also reached out in July to the Sierra Sun about his experience at the Tahoe Inn. The Sun was unable to look into the story at the time.
KINGS BEACH, Calif. — A Lake Tahoe motel that recently garnered criticism after a Sacramento TV crew filmed what appeared to be bugs, trash and drug paraphernalia inside is slated to be torn down next spring, officials said Friday.
San Francisco-based real estate investment firm JMA Ventures — the managing partner of Homewood Mountain Resort on the lake’s West Shore — acquired the Tahoe Inn in 2007, Art Chapman, the company’s founder, said Friday, “with the express purpose of tearing it down.”
JMA plans to demolish the motel at 9937 North Lake Blvd. in Kings Beach, near the north California-Nevada state line, and fully restore the land to open space by spring 2015.
The company’s decision to raze the hotel was made years ago, Chapman said, and is not in response to a Friday ABC News 10 story about a visit a news crew made to Tahoe Inn room 224 earlier this summer.
According to the Sacramento TV station, Sacramento resident Don Simmons and a friend stayed in the same room in July and found bugs crawling across sheets, blankets and pillows.
After Simmons contacted News 10 about his experience, reporter Thom Jensen rented room 224 in the weeks following. During his stay, he and a camera crew filmed ants crawling in the room, stains on linens and trash underneath the bed, according to Friday’s report.
Further, the crew also found two nitrous oxide dispensers — often referred to as “Whip-Its,” in which users gain a momentary euphoric high by inhaling the gas — and a pill of what a narcotics detective identified as the drug MDMA, commonly referred to as ecstasy.
JMA reportedly declined an on-camera interview, but in a written statement, Chapman said, “We take News10’s allegations very seriously and will investigate them thoroughly.”
During a Friday interview with the Sierra Sun, Chapman said his company did just that.
“We responded to Channel 10 and … told them we’re taking immediate action to have an exterminator in there to take care of the problem,” said Chapman, adding that the action was taken roughly a month and a half ago. “We take pride that the rooms there are clean, and they’re healthy. There had never been any protests about the conditions there before, but once Channel 10 brought this to our attention, we made sure it was well-run and clean.”
Built in the 1950s, the Tahoe Inn boasts 93 hotel rooms and, according to its website, touts itself as being “Lake Tahoe’s most affordable lodging option.” Rooms run as low as $50 a night, Chapman said.
It used to feature 45 extra rooms that were razed at the east end of the property prior to JMA taking over, JMA Executive Vice President David Tirman told the Sierra Sun Friday.
“Our group undertook the land restoration of that portion of the property back in 2009, and plan to do the same with the Tahoe Inn when the time comes,” Tirman said.
That time is likely next spring, Chapman said, as the plan remains to break ground on the multimillion-dollar Homewood Mountain Resort renovation by then.
READ MORE: After a lawsuit was settled this year, the Homewood project is on schedule for spring 2015.
As part of JMA’s deal to gain approval from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency for the project, it had to transfer a number of “Tourist Accommodation Units” from elsewhere in the Tahoe basin to accommodate the hotel planned at the resort, Chapman said; those units are currently at the Tahoe Inn.
“In order to build the resort at Homewood, we had to allocate those units, so we acquired them at the Tahoe Inn … and will transfer them to the new site,” he said.
Chapman reiterated that Channel 10’s visit this summer was the first time JMA had been made aware of cleanliness or other issues at the hotel.
“We had never heard of anything like this before, and we immediately went in to make sure everything was fine,” Chapman said. “We take pride in the properties we manage.”
Chapman said the hotel will be “shut down soon” in preparation of demolition, although he could not provide an exact date.
As for the hotel’s employees, he said “a very small number of people work there.”
“Those jobs will be multiplied tenfold at the new hotel at Homewood,” Chapman said.
Visit jmaventuresllc.com to learn more about JMA Ventures and the regional properties it manages.