Change is in the wind on the North Shore |

Change is in the wind on the North Shore

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunOn Tuesday, motorists drive past private businesses in Kings Beach that will be redeveloped. Public and private projects will reshape the North Shore community over the next few years.

A handful of proposed projects could radically change the face of North Tahoe over the next few years.

And the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, in partnership with Placer County, is turning to the public for comment on the expected makeover.

A community meeting will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. this evening at the North Tahoe Conference Center in Kings Beach to review seven development concepts proposed for Tahoe’s north and west shores that have applied to the Community Enhancement Program.

Under the program’s auspices, the bistate planning agency asks developers to submit innovative concepts to meet community vision and environmental standards.

“Only the best of these projects can go forward under the program,” said Brenda Hunt, an agency program manager, in a written statement.

Of the seven developments that will be presented Wednesday, five are located in Kings Beach ” and four are major components of the downtown corridor.

The other two projects to be reviewed this evening are located in Homewood and Crystal Bay.

In the North Shore place-based planning process, residents and business owners identified Kings Beach as a priority for reinvestment and redevelopment. Their wish for a revitalized town may come true within the next decade.

For a community that has seen only minor redevelopment over the course of the past 40 years ” since a building boom in the 1950s and 1960s ” the five proposed projects, in addition to Placer County’s Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project, bring a mix of emotions in regards to the future of the funky and quaint North Shore town, say residents and interested onlookers.

“On the one hand, I think it’s very exciting because I think redevelopment in Kings Beach is long overdue,” said board President Carol Savary of the North Tahoe Business Association. “On the other hand, it’s a bit daunting because so much of the area will be under development at the same time.”

Savary said the association is already planning a strategy to help local businesses endure the looming construction season.

“It’s going to be a big change,” said Jennifer Merchant, CEO of Placer County’s operations in the Tahoe basin. “And with change ” you know, change is different for everybody. Everything out of the routine is different. We all want a better Kings Beach, and an improved Kings Beach. But there’s certainly something to be said for the eclectic Kings Beach.”

Jerry Wotel of the North Tahoe Citizen’s Action Alliance said he felt all of the proposed projects have something to offer toward the betterment of Kings Beach, though aspects of each proposal may warrant further questioning.

“Things can change,” Wotel said. “They’re fluid at this point … but with Kings Beach, it seems to be like, wow, everything’s happening at one time.”

Tonight’s meeting is an opportunity for residents to learn about all of the proposed projects at one meeting. Further opportunities to comment will be available at agency governing board meetings, said Jeff Cowen, spokesperson for the planning agency.

Once selected projects are approved into the community enhancement program, they are not automatically given a green light, Cowen said. Developers must still undergo an application process and possible environmental review.

The Tahoe planning agency’s governing board is scheduled to select which applicants are accepted into the program at its meeting in January. The governors will review the project concepts at their next meeting in November.

“I think we need to look at the bigger picture before we jump into this,” said North Tahoe resident Ellie Waller. “We still want to keep the small-town perspectives. We don’t want to pave paradise and put in the parking lot. Again, it’s making smart choices for fixing the blight.”

Proponents of two other proposals for South Lake Tahoe presented their project concepts at a meeting at Stateline, Nev., on Monday.

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