Enhancing a destination: County approves projects to support tourism | SierraSun.com

Enhancing a destination: County approves projects to support tourism

Placer County approved $2.3 million for trail development and transportation projects outliined in the county's Tourism Master Plan.
Hannah Jones/ hjones@sierrasun.com

Trail and transportation improvements will be coming to North Lake Tahoe with Placer County approving $2.3 million, high-priority projects in the county’s Tourism Master Plan.

The county also approved a $3.9 million contract with the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association for next year with 2% of that going toward implementation of the master plan.

“The organization really worked to develop this last year,” said Erin Casey, principal management analyst for Placer County, of the resort association’s work on the master plan.

This year, the Capital Projects Advisory Committee, a 13-member group tasked with evaluating project proposals in the region, reviewed and evaluated 20 grant applications totaling over $3.5 million in transient occupancy tax requests. The committee narrowed down the list to 13 projects.

Trail development ranked among the highest priority projects along with visitor facilities, with the committee recommending $259,000 for trail improvements at Watson Lake Area, along the Tahoe Rim Trail, and Martis Valley Trail. The Fanny Bridge Community Revitalization Project will receive $500,000 for bike, pedestrian and transit connections within Tahoe City.

Improvements to visitor facilities include power upgrade at Commons Beach in Tahoe City, stair replacement at Skylandia Park and a snowcat replacement for North Tahoe Regional Park.

“North Tahoe PUD uses that and provides free cross country skiing for people,” said Placer County Board Supervisor Cindy Gustafson. “Use of TOT funds to provide a free service when so many sports in Tahoe are extremely expensive is a great service to the community.”

Another approved project included $1 million to partner with the Truckee Donner Land Trust and Squaw Valley Public Service District to acquire a 30-acre parcel in Olympic Valley for public access, conservation and recreation.

Data collected from the resort association shows Transient Occupancy Tax collections between July and December in 2018 are up 15% from the same period in 2017, which equates to an additional $1.4 million. Of the 10% of Transient Occupancy Tax funds collected in eastern Placer County, 2% is allocated toward priority projects in the Tourism Master Plan.

Currently Placer County needs $12 million to fulfill goals laid out in the master plan, which includes transit services, visitors activities and facilities and marketing. A resort association survey showed 71% of voters supported additional funding for the plan. While there was strong support for a raise in TOT or sales tax, the resort association is also supporting the establishment of a Tourism Business Improvement District.

While the approved budget with the resort association for next year only allocates 2% toward implementation of the Tourism Master Plan, Casey said this was a significant increase from last year.

“This is small although last year it was only 0.2% of the budget,” said Casey.

Last year the plan received $8,000 in funding, increased to $88,000 this year.

“That is so staff within the resort association can continue their efforts with the TBID.”

Tourism development makes up 75% of the budget going toward marketing and events.

“It positions north Lake Tahoe as a year-round destination,” said Casey.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or hjones@sierrasun.com.

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