Supervisors reengage on uses for Fire Station 51 in Tahoe City

Published October 27, 2022

Finding a new use for the old Fire Station 51 in Tahoe City is under discussion once again. At its meeting Tuesday, the board approved a short-term, non-exclusive right to negotiate an agreement with the Climate and Wildfire Institute to discuss the potential future reuse or redevelopment of the vacant fire station. The institute’s mission is to bring existing climate and wildfire science to policy and decision-making.

Fire Station 51 was built in 1961 and was the former home of the North Tahoe Fire Protection District, which relocated to a new facility in 2012. Since that time, the county has been working with stakeholders in Tahoe City to create a new vision for the space, which is located on the Commons Beach property along North Lake Boulevard. 

The Climate and Wildfire Institute, which was recently awarded a $7 million state grant, reached out to the county in May 2022 to propose using the facility for its headquarters. Under the agreement approved on Tuesday, the county and the Climate and Wildfire Institute will continue public outreach and community engagement, identify potential uses of the Fire Station 51 property, and assess the financial feasibility of those potential uses.

A partnership with the institute also has the potential to advance economic development opportunities and welcome a new environmental steward to the region. 

“I want to assure our local community groups that their input is important, and I know the Climate and Wildfire Institute and county staff are committed to a collaborative process moving forward,” said District 5 Supervisor and Board Chair Cindy Gustafson. “It’s my hope that this organization can catalyze the old fire station space to serve a number of uses, including science, art, education, and community. The institute has financial backing and its mission aligns well with our region, so I hope others will give this organization an opportunity to share what they have to offer.” 

Established in 2021, The Climate and Wildfire Institute is a 501c3 nonprofit committed to building partnerships across academia, the private sector, and government to create a faster and more nimble response to the most pressing wildfire and climate change issues facing the state and county. 

“Lake Tahoe is a world-recognized location from which we all derive inspiration due to the unique beauty but also where we can see the on-the-ground impacts of climate change and the activities we are doing to address them,” said CWI Executive Director Caroline Godkin. “For me, the exciting opportunity is to create a space to convene, educate, and create linkages between academia, policymakers, and practitioners along with communities living in the basin. I’m incredibly grateful we have this chance to work with Placer County and the Tahoe City community to determine how we can achieve the mission of our organization through activating the vision provided by the years of engagement around the redevelopment of Fire Station 51.”