Millions OK’d for Tahoe projects, including final pieces for Kings Beach Core
KINGS BEACH, Calif. — Placer County’s Board of Supervisors approved millions in funding for the Tahoe area last week, including 14 projects that will share $2 million in Transient Occupancy Tax revenue, $800,000 to finish the Kings Beach core overhaul, and $368,000 for the design of a 1.6-mile section of the Martis Valley Trail.
“From Donner Summit to Kings Beach, the TOT grants reflect a wide diversity of projects, people and interests,” said District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, according to a press release from the county. “It’s great to be able to use public tax dollars for on-the-ground projects that support our visitors and our local residents.”
TOURISM IS UP, AND THAT MEANS MORE TOT
TOT is a county-wide tax on lodging, like hotel rooms and other short-term rentals such as AirBNBs. In the eastern part of the county, in the Lake Tahoe region, the rate is currently 10 percent.
Funds allocated at the Feb. 21 board meeting come from last year’s TOT revenue, which saw an 18 percent boost from the previous year, according to the county.
The projects that received TOT funding, through the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, consist of a variety of efforts to improve both the region’s infrastructure and visitor experience. They range from trail building and restoration to roundabout construction and website upgrades.
The largest piece of funding, which went to the Truckee River Trail Restoration project, amounts to $614,122. The Speedboat Beach Public Access Improvement Plan received $275,000, and the Martis Valley/Northstar Trail, along with the Memorial Overland Emigrant Trail, each received sums of $250,000.
There was also $100,000 set aside to contribute to the $750,000 cost to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Highway 267 and 28, the same intersection where a restoration of Griff Creek is planned. County documents state that the other $650,000 for the roundabout will come from a federal grant through the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
Other projects that were given TOT funding include the Squaw Valley Olympic Ski Museum, art for the Kings Beach roundabouts, and a Tahoe Area Regional Transit Shelter at Northstar, among other plans.
PIECING TOGETHER MARTIS VALLEY TRAIL
In addition to the $250,000 of TOT funds the board approved for design and construction of three sections of the Martis Valley Trail, that same day the board OK’d a $368,000 contract to design the next 1.6-mile stretch of the trail, which construction is expected to begin on as early as May 2018.
According to county documents, the trail is a 10-foot wide, paved, multi-purpose recreational trail connecting Truckee and Northstar Village.
Construction began on the $17 million project in 2014, according to a previous report in the Sierra Sun.
Since, $1 million of TOT funds have been spent on the trail so far, according to the county’s website. Last week, the board of supervisors added $250,000 to that figure.
The $250,000 was awarded to the Northstar Community Services District to allow them to complete sections 1B-2, 3A and 3F of the trail.
NCSD Engineer Eric Martin said in an email that segments 1A and 1B of the trail have already been constructed, and that other segments are in various phases of permitting or design.
Because the trail is on land within the Lake Tahoe Basin and land that is federally owned, project applicants have to follow procedures laid out in both the California Environmental Quality Act and its federal equivalent, the National Environmental Policy Act. This means going through two separate review processes.
Martin said segments 1B-2 and 3A, which were part of the $250,000 TOT award, have already gone through the CEQA, process but the NEPA review is not yet complete until it receives approval from the Army Corps of Engineers. Segment 3F has completed the CEQA process, and will not require approval through NEPA unless federal funding is used.
Meanwhile, the $368,000 1.6-mile stretch of the trail, segment 3B, is also subject to both NEPA and CEQA. The money awarded by Placer County for this section is for its design, and does not come from TOT revenue.
Instead, the funds for segment 3F’s design are provided through the federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Improvement Program and County Park Dedication Fees, according to county documents.
Construction of segments 3E and 4 currently require additional review before development can begin, Martin said. He added that the NCSD plans to discuss the option of a federal funding grant for this portion of the trail.
KINGS BEACH CORE UPDATE
The $50 million Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project aimed at revitalizing the unincorporated tourism hub began in 2014. The project’s first phase, dubbed the “Core of the Core,” was completed in late 2015. The second and final phase, which began in spring 2016, isn’t quite done yet.
Last week, the board approved $800,000 for finishing touches to the project, which includes the addition of a 29-space parking lot, landscaping, installation of railings, the replacement of damaged bollards and correction of a drainage problem, according to county documents.
This final work is expected to be complete by fall 2017, and thus completely finishing the project.
Of the $800,000, only $400,000 is expected to come from TOT revenue and county traffic impact fees. According to a memo to the board from the Placer County Public Works and Facilities department, the county estimates the other $400,000 will be funded through the State Transportation Improvement Program, which would repay the funds back to the county over the next three years.
The project’s website, kingsbeachcore.info, is no longer active, but the county’s website states that a total of $6.75 million of TOT funding has gone toward making the 15-year-old project a reality.