Evaluating the economy | SierraSun.com

Evaluating the economy

Joanna Hartman
Sierra Sun

Tahoe City business and property owners discussed Thursday the need for a high-end hotel, year-round tourist attractions and consumer-driven events as desirable options to help boost downtown commerce.

The Tahoe City Downtown Association hosted a community forum Thursday evening and Friday morning on “creating a thriving downtown district,” part of an effort to determine what local owners envision as the future of Tahoe City.

The business association hired Lani Lott, the president of L.L. Consulting, to conduct the seminar on small town trends and administer a survey to property and business owners to “take the community’s temperature.”

Currently the downtown association doesn’t have a structured funding program to sustain the 2-year-old organization, Lott said. For now, it is funded by membership, Placer County Redevelopment Agency and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.

But the organization can only survive in the long run with adequate support, including financial support.

A business improvement district, assessing business or property owners, is just one option. Gifts and endowments are another, Lott said.

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“I’m not here to sell you benefits of an assessment district,” Lott said. “We’re gathering information.”

Assessment districts began in the early 1990s because business owners wanted to pool their resources, Lott said. The dollars are collected though tax rolls, but are passed directly back to the group administering the assessments, such as the Tahoe City Downtown Association.

But the business group is not forcing a business improvement district, said Kelly Atchley, the organization’s director. They are simply collecting information to see what business and property owners value most.

Based on survey responses addressing safety, marketing and promotions, special events and streetscape maintenance, the business association can determine where people stand on funding.

The business organization currently has about 100 members out of a total 450 businesses from Dollar Hill to Sunnyside, including approximately 100 home-based businesses, said Atchley.

The 25 or so business and property owners and residents who attended the forum discussed current Tahoe City events and promotions and ways to bring even more people to town.

“But now we need to work together to market Tahoe City,” said Carol Hester, owner of Geared for Games. “We’re taking the small steps, but I really want to set that big picture.”

High-end lodging, cross promotion, and meeting the needs of residents, visitors and second-home owners alike were mentioned as priorities for some. But survey results will offer more about what the business community wants as a whole.

“This needs assessment is hopefully going to tell us how well we’re doing, what we want. I know collectively as a community we can do better,” said Dave Wilderotter, owner of Tahoe Dave’s ski shops and the Tahoe City Downtown Association board president.