Another Calamity in Kings Beach

Laulima would open a floodgate for privatization

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BY MEGAN CHILLEMI | Moonshine Ink

The Kings Beach community faces another calamity — privatization of the North Shore’s best beach — if Placer County’s Planning Commission gives a green light on Thursday, May 28, to Laulima Development’s proposed Lakeside Redevelopment Project. Also known as the Kings Beach Residential and Shore Club, the proposal is a dense project of 10 single-family residences totaling 30,047 square feet right in the town center.

If completed, the project would replace the 92 hotel rooms of the Ferrari Crown Hotel, Gold Crest, and Falcon Lodge with eight luxury condos and two duplexes, along with a private owners’ amenity building above a 2,135-square-foot restaurant and two tiny 755-square-foot retail allotments totaling 3,685 square feet.

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County planning insists this is a balanced “mixed-use” project. It is not, when the balance of residential to retail is almost 10 to 1.

This project forever destroys a “mixed” town center definition to one of single-family residential development, making it indefensible when new developers appear with similar proposals. It violates the 2017 Tahoe Basin Area Plan vision, efforts of the North Shore community, and notably, the community’s team that worked with the county to develop the plan.

The Area Plan’s Land Use Regulations state: “New single family and secondary dwellings are not allowed along North Lake Boulevard.” The team understood this policy meant these structures are prohibited along North Lake Boulevard through to the lake’s edge.

In this case, homeowners’ associations and private owners occupying the beach excludes the community from access to the lake.

So why mixed use? By definition, the term necessitates a robust balance of retail/ commercial to residential. It is considered the best use of property to revitalize aging town centers, or “… a pedestrian and transit-oriented environment of retail, restaurants, tourist accommodation, and mixed-use development and enhanced access to the lake and recreational activities.” Investors have recently purchased several Kings Beach retail stores. What happens when a precedent for residential has been established?

How did we get here? When Laulima made the purchases, there was talk of a boutique hotel on the lake, North Tahoe Event Center improvements, and condos on the mountain side. Then, the switcheroo. The hotel was moved to the mountain side, and residences to the lake. The event center contract with the North Tahoe PUD was terminated in 2017 due to Laulima’s inability to satisfy obligations.

When the residential project was presented to the North Tahoe Regional Council on July 11, 2019, members voted 6-0 to recommend that the planning commission deny all entitlements for the project.

Two weeks later at the planning commission meeting on July 25, members took no action on the project, appending it and turning it back to planning staff with instructions to reach out to key members of the community and Laulima and work out a plan.

That meeting, held on Jan. 28 of this year, was not an interactive community conversation, but rather a presentation by Laulima’s project manager on the financial reasons he said the boutique hotel could not be built.

Clearly, not a community outreach. And no revisions to the residential plan.

The planning commission must again append it until additional community meetings are held and a revised project presented. If the project is discretionary, it must be redesigned to a balanced, mixed-use project supporting development of a good business climate while maintaining Kings Beach character.

My husband, Jack, worked on the Area Plan. He has gathered over 1,700 signatures opposing the project since last August. So, what do you think? Send your comments via the commission link on the county website or use their call-in line at 10 a.m. on May 28 to queue for public comment.

Let your voice be heard.

~ Megan Chillemi, a native Californian, is a retired systems and procedures manager. She has been a Kings Beach resident and homeowner since 1982. Her husband, Jack, served on the Area Plan Update Team-East.

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