My Turn: Unleashing another Starbucks in Tahoe | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Unleashing another Starbucks in Tahoe

Serenity Enriquez

This column is in regard to the upcoming Starbucks proposed for the newly built Customs House Building at 775 North Lake Blvd. in Tahoe City. I have several concerns with how the Custom House is meeting the recommendations of the Design/ Site Review Committee, the Placer County Planning Department and the Department of Public Works requirements.First, theres the disregard of environmental impact recommendations by Public Works, the Planning Department and Design/Site Review concerning the watershed into beautiful Lake Tahoe. The watershed quality is impacted by how snow removal and storage are handled. There is a year-round creek and drainage on the northeast aspect of the site that as many may know, flows under Highway 28 and then between Safeway and the Boatworks Mall before entering the lake. In several of the documents available to the public (including the variance that allows a reduction in parking spaces from the required 40 spaces to only 30), I found there are stipulations requiring the construction of a physical barrier to prevent snow storage in the stream. Well, if you look at the rear of the Customs House, you will find that there is a nice pile of snow into said creek My second concern for this site is the Design/Site Review Site Plan Review # DSA-2400, section M, stating that eating and drinking places are prohibited when not an accessory use to a business. According to permit applications filed, a Starbucks coffee house is looking to lease the far western unit in this location. Is this allowed? Does this simple statement mean what is says? Also found in the public records is an earlier variance to the parking requirements of an identical condition. That variance has since expired and been replaced with another variance without such a stipulation. Sneaky.Did you know that over 400 residents signed a locally circulated petition asking that another Starbucks not be allowed in Tahoe City? I understand that the local agencies involved are mandated to be neutral and work within the code and ordinances of their respective departments and organizations, but I really hope they take into account both the desires of the local community they serve as well as the impact a large corporate coffee chain will have in Tahoe City. We already have nine coffee shops here in town, so there is plenty of healthy competition. While I personally believe in capitalism and a free market, I feel that it would be unfair competition to unleash a Starbucks here. We are undoubtedly a tourist-driven economy. Do you want these dollars visitors will be spending recirculated among your people or sent elsewhere with little benefit for North Tahoe? And were you aware that the manager of Starbucks is already circulating among the existing coffee houses trying to recruit their employees? With such a limited employee pool, isnt it sneaky to try and draw away carefully trained employees from their existing employers? I know that maybe this is not your concern, but I just wanted you to know what kind of anti-union, anti-fair trade, mega corporation with over 10,000 stores in over 37 countries we are allowing in our rural mountain community. Not just that, but a look at their proposed seating plan reveals that their customer tables are to be made of teak. Teak? Isnt that an endangered hardwood from fast-disappearing rainforests?Serenity Enriquez is a resident of the North Shore.