My Turn: No justification for Tahoe City garage | SierraSun.com

My Turn: No justification for Tahoe City garage

Jerry Wotel

The Tahoe City Marina parking garage is anticipated to cost up to $14 million. These funds are to be provided by the Placer County Redevelopment Agency (RDA).

According to the Placer County Web site, “Redevelopment is a process created to remove blight, meaning physical building deterioration, substandard public utility systems, land not used to its greatest potential, and/or general economic decline.” According to the RDA director, the construction of the marina garage is justified because of economic blight in Tahoe City.

Placer County has been compiling sales tax statistics for years, but only recently have they reported it based on communities. In the Oct. 9, 2007 issue of the Sierra Sun in the article titled “Tahoe City sales taxes surpass ski resorts,” the following was stated. “Recent economic data paints a picture that defies the commonly held notion that Tahoe City’s economy is slumping. According to figures released by Placer County for annual sales tax revenues from 1991 to 2006, Tahoe City’s retail sector surpassed that of any nearby Placer County community, including Squaw Valley and Northstar. Over the past decade, Tahoe City consistently grossed a half million dollars more in sales tax than other North Shore and Tahoe-area communities.”

That is over $7 million in sales.

In that same article, the executive director of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association said that the Tahoe City businesses “help sustain the town’s economic vitality” and “Tahoe City is roughly on an upwards track toward a million dollars in sales tax revenue.”

The Placer County Executive Office Tahoe manager said “sales tax collected is a direct indicator of business health.”

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Based on this sales data, Tahoe City businesses have higher sale volumes than any other Tahoe community in Placer County, and the officials quoted seem convinced that Tahoe City has a healthy and improving economic climate.

How then can the $14 million for the marina garage be justified on an economic blight basis? To any reasonable person, it cannot. Therefore, since the justification of $14 million for this garage does not exist, the public funds should be withdrawn, and used where they are really needed.

The Pathway 2007 Place-Based Community meetings identified Kings Beach as having the greatest need in North Tahoe for community improvement. The Kings Beach community has needs directly in accordance with all the RDA guidelines of removing blight, meaning physical building deterioration, public utility systems in desperate need of replacement, land not used to its greatest potential, and general economic decline.

The North Tahoe Citizen Action Alliance requests that these $14 million be spent in accordance with RDA guidelines which do not include the Tahoe City Marina garage.