Placer County prioritizes economic investment in North Lake Tahoe; continues North Lake Tahoe Resort Association contract

Published June 25, 2020

Continuing its investment in the economy of eastern Placer County, the Placer County Board of Supervisors voted this week to contract with the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association to promote responsible reopening of tourism and support business in the region, especially in light of the changing landscape due to COVID-19.

The board approved an annual contract with the NLTRA for up to $4,043,877 to support the North Lake Tahoe tourism-based economy year-round and to ensure broad community input while prioritizing capital projects that are in alignment with the Placer County Tourism Master Plan. The contract also includes funding for continued COVID-19 response.

The board also received a presentation on a potential transient occupancy tax incentive program for new lodging developers or current lodging property owners seeking to renovate in the unincorporated areas of the Lake Tahoe Basin portion of the county. With this week’s board feedback, a vote on a proposed tax incentive program is scheduled to take place on July 28.

“Investing in our economy is critical to a stable North Lake Tahoe region,” said District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson. "Through this contract with the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association and the pursuit of tax incentive programs to attract further investment in our community, Placer County is committed to the economic sustainability of our region. These actions provide a few more tools in the toolbox to ensure we are doing everything we can to support our beautiful North Lake Tahoe.”

With limited new development since 1962, the county contracted with BAE Urban Economics in November 2019 to study regional barriers to economic investment. Findings identified a declining population in North Lake Tahoe, a lack of quality lodging, aging infrastructure and high costs of development as barriers to investment. The full BAE report can be found here.

According to the North Lake Tahoe Master Plan, the region primarily relies on a tourism-driven economy. Annually, visitors spend over $800 million in North Lake Tahoe. Over 60% of employment and 51% of all earnings can be attributed to tourism. Incentivizing new development or redeveloping aging areas in the town centers will support that economic engine while also helping to preserve Tahoe’s prized clarity with more environmentally-friendly buildings and restoration projects.

Responsible economic and tourism initiatives are at the forefront of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association’s work. The association’s pillars of focus include sales, marketing, events, public relations and visitor services. As one of two destination management organizations for North Lake Tahoe, the team prioritizes shoulder-season travel to encourage visitation in all four seasons, ultimately supporting the local business community year-round.

“Ongoing support from Placer County allows the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association to continue leading responsible tourism efforts for the North Lake Tahoe destination,” said Jeffrey Hentz, NLTRA CEO. “We are grateful for Placer County’s commitment to the District 5 region and looking forward to producing work that amplifies our local communities in this most critical time.”

In March, the Placer County Board of Supervisors provided direction to pursue programs and policies to attract economically and environmentally beneficial investment in the North Lake Tahoe region.

Staff conducted a stakeholder survey, in which participants showed strong support for the tax incentive program concept and provided initial feedback for program priorities. Feedback prioritized financial offsets to address current building costs, including prevailing wage impacts, among others. These financial impacts could be addressed through the potential TOT incentive program that will be considered in July.

Outreach and education efforts will continue leading up to the July vote in partnership with the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.