My Turn: Is high-rise development right for Lake Tahoe?
Special to the Sun
CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. and#8212; Although a new South Lake Tahoe TRPA Governing Board member wants to marginalize area conservationists as NIMBYS (Not in My Back Yard), isnand#8217;t the lake everyoneand#8217;s back yard? Shouldnand#8217;t we all be concerned? Shouldnand#8217;t we all be conservationists? In fact the lake is and#8220;the commonsand#8221; and it belongs to us all.
The Boulder Bay project, which is up for approval at TRPA on April 27th at the North Tahoe Event Center in Kings Beach, requires a change to the existing code height maximums for the Crystal Bay/Brockway area (North Stateline Community Plan). Where there is currently one building and#8220;grandfathered inand#8221; with a peak that reaches 76 feet high, the developer proposes eight buildings higher than the maximum allowed height. Two are 75 feet high, two are 65 feet high and a three-tower condo building is 57 feet high. Building F at 56 feet high is approximately 200 feet long. While no one denies the owner the ability to redevelop his property, exceeding the allowed height is not one of his rights.
As a 39-year Tahoe Realtor, I am a strong property rights advocate, but what about the communityand#8217;s property rights? We moved to North Shore by choice because it had a natural alpine feel, not high-rise dense development. What happens to our property values when there are 65- and 75-foot high buildings, just 12 feet off Stateline Road? This supposed and#8220;pedestrian friendlyand#8221; project doesnand#8217;t feature sidewalks on Wellness Way or Stateline Road. A handful of totally inadequate visual simulations have given us no real idea what this build-out will look like. Weand#8217;ve never seen a model or cubic volume study. This new height sets a dangerous precedent for not just Crystal Bay/Brockway, but all of Lake Tahoe. Why should high-rise development be thrust upon our little area just because an owner agrees to perform its BMPs (storm water management practices) and makes the claim it reduces traffic in spite of increasing the units by a factor of three? If this kind of benefit justifies high-rise development, watch out and#8212; the new TRPA recommended and#8220;Prosperity Planand#8221; says we need 14 Boulder Bay-type projects built around the lake.
TRPA appears to have decided that since the decline of gaming, building hotels and further reliance on real estate to increase population is the answer to economic woes. More is not automatically better, in fact, common sense suggest itand#8217;s a problem for our area. Interestingly, look at Truckee. Even though Truckeeand#8217;s population has increased 23 percent since the last census, businesses struggle and there are numerous vacancies on Commercial Row.
The TRPA and the developer, at its request, have canceled 4 hearings since last July. If the project had been designed to conform to current code there would have been no issue. When I built my commercial building, I installed a 100-year/1-hour storm retention pond without any trade-off for extra height. A right-sized project would not be controversial; it would be the right thing to do.
and#8212; Ann Nichols is a 41-year resident of North Lake Tahoe in Nevada and is a California real estate broker. She is director of the North Tahoe Preservation Alliance.
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