Council approves virus relief loan program; discusses accommodation

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif .– Small businesses in South Lake Tahoe can apply for 0% interest rate loans through the city after a COVID relief loan program was approved on Tuesday.

City Council approved the Small Business Sustainability Loan Program, which is a 0% interest rate loan that is deferred until June 1, 2022. Businesses can apply for up to $ 15,000 depending on the needs and size of the organization.

The council requested that the loan stipulate that businesses receiving the loan must follow city, state and federal COVID guidelines. If the businesses are not in compliance, the deferral is canceled and they must immediately begin repaying the loan.

The board approved an initial amount of $ 700,000 to be drawn from the fund not designated for the program. Applications are accepted until January 15th.

The Board also approved $ 75,000 for a gift card program through the Tahoe Chamber of Commerce. The program rewards people who purchase gift cards from businesses located within city limits. While the council has provided support to restaurants, this program aims to support other small businesses and nonprofits.

During the COVID discussion, City Manager Joe Irvin, Barton Health CEO Clint Purvance and Lake Tahoe Unified School District Superintendent Todd Cutler provided an update.

Irvin said that although the region is still in the purple level, the rate of positive cases in the city has remained relatively low recently compared to the December explosion.

“I think the numbers are going down because the stay-at-home measures are working,” Irvin told the council.

Purvance provided an update on the hospital vaccination process. He said more than 60% of Barton’s top employees received the first dose. He also said the second dose will arrive this week and will be given shortly thereafter.

Cutler told the district council about his thoughts on returning school to the hybrid. He said it is likely that the students will be able to return by Jan. 11, which was the goal.

The problem, Cutler said, is that there have been several positive cases among staff, adding that eight staff members tested positive on Monday.

The district will continue to monitor the number of cases and decide when to refer students to the hybrid.

“Getting our students back to school is our priority,” Cutler said.

Council also received a presentation on housing solutions from the city’s housing manager, Zach Thomas.

The city currently has single room and multi-family dwelling unit occupancy programs that ensure standard living conditions for residents. He has also engaged in new construction, such as the Sugar Pine Village, and is seeking state and federal grants and funding.

Thomas said an immediate thing the board should discuss is an emergency rental program. With the federal moratorium on evictions coming to an end, the city could develop a plan to help residents who are at risk of eviction due to COVID.

The council asked staff to start creating a comeback plan in February.

Thomas also discussed possible partnerships with Landing Locals and Tahoe Home Connections, two groups that are trying to find affordable housing within the existing housing stock, including converting vacation rentals into long-term rentals.

The city will launch a call for tenders for partnerships to address the issue.

Finally, Lake Tahoe Airport Manager Mark Gibbs presented the results of the 2020 Airport Economic Impact Study.

The study, which was conducted by the University of Nevada, Reno found that the airport brings in around $ 20,000,000 for South Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas and employs around 215 people at the airport for related services.

The next meeting will take place on January 19 and will be a strategic planning meeting.

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