By A.J. Hazarabedian
The South Lake Tahoe City Council has begun discussions about whether or not to add a new redevelopment project area to their plan. This second project area would include most of the west end of town along Highway 50, which is about 1,300 acres.
The City isn’t taking this idea lightly, mainly because it is a State requirement that properties be deemed blighted prior to being added to a redevelopment area. Councilman Bill Crawford voiced his opinion in the Tahoe Daily Tribune article, “Redevelopment talks set for upcoming months.“ He stated, “…we’re going to have the whole town on Highway 50 in a redevelopment area, which says that the whole town is blighted. No, it’s not.” He adds that deeming certain properties as blighted could hurt business owners who may want to sell their properties. If the property is “blighted,” they would have to disclose that information in the sale, which could significantly affect the property’s value.
Another councilman, Bruce Grego, indicated he would support the new redevelopment area, as long as eminent domain is not involved, saying, “…if we provide land use tools to improve their properties, I support that no matter what you call it, as long as we’re not forcing people to do anything.”
The decision to add Project Area No. 2 could come up for vote by the City Council as soon as March.
Commentary from A.J. Hazarabedian:
It is nice to see that the City is taking seriously the issue of declaring an area blighted. As noted by Councilman Crawford, declaring properties blighted can have a serious impact on the affected area. While redevelopment can positively influence an area once a project is implemented, redevelopment plans often hang around for years or even decades. During that time, property owners in redevelopment areas often feel as though they are in a state of limbo, not knowing whether to spend money improving their properties or just allow their properties to decay, since the area may be redeveloped anyway. Thus adopting a redevelopment plan may be having the opposite effect from the ostensible purpose of the plan – i.e., to eliminate blight.