Tahoe Vista residents critique Sandy Beach project
February 13, 2008
Tahoe Vista residents continued to stress the critical need for an updated and comprehensive community plan before the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s advisory body Wednesday at a public hearing for the Sandy Beach redevelopment project.
Residents also told the Advisory Planning Commission that paying fees to offset impacts created by the Tahoe Vista fractional-ownership development was not good enough.
Tahoe Vista Partners, LLC is proposing to build 45 tourist-accommodation-units and 10 affordable housing units on a 6.25-acre site just off of the highway in the heart of Tahoe Vista.
The property is currently the site of the Sandy Beach Campground and also houses the Spindleshanks restaurant and several smaller buildings.
The entire development would occur on the mountain side of the highway. The property owners sold their lakefront portion of the parcel to the California Tahoe Conservancy in 1992 so it would forever remain publicly accessible.
The Sandy Beach redevelopment is one on an extensive list of proposals for the small, primarily residential community of Tahoe Vista. It’s joined by the proposed Tahoe Sands timeshare development, the Vista Village affordable housing development and the proposal to expand the North Tahoe Marina, among other proposed projects.
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“I think the concerns on cumulative impact in that area are quite valid,” said Commissioner Lee Plemel. “Unless there’s some sort of community plan for that area, I think approving one project at a time is just not the way to go.”
The existing 1996 Tahoe Vista community plan strives to promote the community as a tourism destination. To meet this goal, the plan encourages “diversification of recreational and commercial attractions to create the high quality development expected in a destination resort community.”
Commissioner Allen Breuch reiterated the community plan’s vision about trending Tahoe Vista towards a tourist destination.
But residents said they want to update the plan so it addresses the intense development facing the area.
“We don’t want to look like South Shore,” said Tahoe Vista Resident Ellie Waller. “In fact, we don’t want to look like the proposed Kings Beach area.”
The draft environmental document delves into the cumulative impacts of the project within the context of everything else proposed for Tahoe Vista.
But in many cases, the project offsets impacts through mitigation fees, which frankly, won’t solve the problem, said Tahoe Vista Resident Dave McClure.
“So both the TRPA and Placer County are getting their fees,” McClure said about the proposed traffic mitigation fees. “That physical vehicle is somehow supposed to be reduced in impact by paying money to these agencies. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.”
McClure also critiqued the size of each individual tourist-accommodation-unit, stating the size of the proposed units far exceeds the original parameters.
“This project is probably one of the best examples of how the TAU policy has changed in reality over the last 20 years since the Community Plan was formed,” McClure said, noting that a motel or hotel room originally defined a tourist-accommodation-unit. “This is not a hotel unit. This is a complete distortion of what TAUs were meant to be.”
Gabby Barrett, the agency’s chief of long-range planning, said the magnitude and definition of a tourist-accommodation-unit will be analyzed in the 20-year regional plan update that is already underway.
“It’s an issue that’s coming up that we’re trying to address,” Barrett said.