Nestled amidst the breathtaking Sierra Nevada mountains, South Lake Tahoe, California, offers a unique blend of natural beauty and economic potential. Boasting picturesque views, world-class outdoor recreation, and a vibrant community, South Lake Tahoe presents an enticing opportunity for economic development. With its strategic location near the Nevada border, the city serves as a gateway to the renowned Lake Tahoe Basin, attracting millions of visitors each year. From tourism and hospitality to outdoor recreation and technology, South Lake Tahoe provides a fertile ground for businesses to thrive. With a commitment to sustainable growth and a welcoming atmosphere, South Lake Tahoe stands ready to embrace new ventures and opportunities, making it an ideal destination for those seeking to invest in a prosperous and dynamic economy.
There are two active Chambers of Commerce within the City of South Lake Tahoe, each providing business resources as well as opportunities for education, engagement and advocacy.
Tahoe Chamber website
South Tahoe Chamber of Commerce website
The Sierra Small Business Development Council (Sierra SBDC) works to support local entrepreneurs and small businesses with the tools and insights for success. The Sierra SBDC maintains a variety of business education and advice programs to provide assistance in many industries including food and retail, as well as micro-enterprises. They offer no cost consulting services focused on helping businesses create a feasible business model, asses business opportunities, determine financial needs, identify potential sources of financing, and design an effective strategy to market and grow. They work to equipping businesses and entrepreneurs with the knowledge, tools and skills to succeed on their own.
Vacant and Underused Sites
The City has compiled an inventory of vacant and underused commercial properties and updates it quarterly. Sites on the inventory are identified in four different categories:
- A property containing a building or structure that has been vacant for 120 days or more; or
- a property containing a building in a condition that cannot be legally reoccupied without repair or rehabilitation; or
- a property that contains an “abandoned building” (City Code §4.65.020).
• A property with multiple tenant spaces where one or more spaces has been vacant for 120 days or more.
Vacant pending application:
• A property meeting the criteria as Vacant with a pending or issued planning or building application to reoccupy the building or structure.
• A property that would meet the criteria for Vacant or Underused except that status has been for less than 120 days.
These private properties are identified as opportunities for new businesses and/or property investment. The inventory includes prime commercial opportunities for commercial and mixed use development. Many of the sites provide immediate highway visibility and access. Click here for an interactive map of “Vacant and Underused Sites.
The City Development Services Department maintains a website of information on projects with pending applications and under construction.
The Surplus Lands Act (SLA) of California (Government Code Section 54221) requires that a City or Redevelopment Successor Agency must declare property to be “surplus land” before they can take any action (sale or lease) to dispose of the property. Surplus land is land deemed not necessary for a local agency‘s use, including that according to a local agency‘s plan, including but not limited to, utility sites or land used for conservation purposes. In the fall of 2019, Assembly Bill 1486 amended the SLA to address the current housing crisis by promoting the construction of affordable housing on surplus land. The amendment also connects affordable housing developers to local surplus land through a notification process and strengthens enforcement of the SLA by requiring reporting of surplus land inventory to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
The City of South Lake Tahoe has adopted a Surplus Land Inventory to identify properties no longer necessary for the City’s use. These properties fall under the SLA “right of first refusal” law that requires all local agencies to offer surplus land for sale or lease to affordable home developers and certain other entities before selling or leasing the land to any other individual or entity.
Notices of Availability for Surplus Land are posted on the City’s Housing Resources webpage.
Development Incentive Program
The City Development Services Department provides opportunities to reduce project costs for qualifying types of projects through development incentives. Visit the Development Incentive Programs website for detailed information.
Opportunity Zones have been developed to align private and public investment for community-level impact in areas of economic need. Opportunity Zones are census tracts that have been identified as economically-disressed and where investment and economic development is incentivized by providing federal tax benefits to investors for qualified uses. The incentive enables a temporary deferral on capital gains for qualified investments through a Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF) established with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). A QOF can invest in properties or businesses within the Opportunity Zones.
There are 2 Opportunity Zones in the City of South Lake Tahoe. See the map below for “Opportunity Zones.”
Additional information on Opportunity Zone investment incentives can be found on the California Community & Place-Based Solutions website.
South Lake Tahoe Opportunity Zones
Recycling Material Development Zone
A CalRecycle RMDZ loan can finance up to 75% of an eligible project up to 2 million per loan. Loan terms are up to 15 years, and the low interest rates are from fixed-rate State funds. Rates are kept at or below the prime rate. Businesses no qualifying for an RMDZ loan are referred to other financing options/entities; Any Business that: manufactures a new product out of reused, recycled, or discarded materials; processes recyclables in a manner that increases their market value and scope; repairs items that would otherwise become waste; or makes products using less materials while generating less waste. Target Materials within the El Dorado County RMDZ would include organics, plastics, and construction and demolition (C&D) debris recycling.
Business Improvement Districts
The primary goal of a Business Improvement District (BID) is to create a more attractive, welcoming, and economically vibrant district by investing in physical improvements, marketing efforts, and programs that stimulate business activity and enhance the overall experience for visitors, residents, and workers in the area. BIDs offer the chance for local businesses to join together and assess themselves to fund agreed upon improvements or services in the business district. Examples of services provided by districts include landscaping, shared plazas or dining areas, security, marketing and promotion, event organization, business development, and advocacy on behalf of the district. These services can help commercial areas that are oriented along public streets to compete with other commercial areas and developments more effectively. Cities find BIDs attractive because a BID can help rejuvenate an aging commercial area, ideally leading to increased civic pride, economic development, and increased tax revenue for the city.
BIDs encompass businesses within the district and are funded through assessments levied on the businesses. Alternatively, a Property Business Improvement District is a specific type of BID where assessments are levied on the property owners rather than the businesses and are typically formed where a BID has a focus on maintenance and security. Improvement districts are governed by a board of directors made up of representatives from owners paying the assessment. This board oversees the allocation of funds, sets priorities, and ensures that the District's initiatives align with the needs and interests of owners paying the assessment, and the community.
The City of South Lake Tahoe supports BIDs as a tool for strengthening small business communities, creating new jobs, attracting new businesses and revitalizing older commercial areas. A Business Improvement District can provide any service that is above and beyond the services provided by the city.
There is currently one BID within the South Lake Tahoe City Limits, the Ski Run BID, which was formed in 2002 to fund ongoing specialized landscape maintenance along Ski Run Blvd. See the map below for existing “Business Improvement Districts.”
To discuss the potential to form a BID, please contact the Assistant City Manager at (530) 542-6024
Tax increment financing (TIF)
TIF works by freezing the property tax revenues that flow from a designated project area to the city, county, and other taxing entities at the “base level” in the current year. Additional tax revenue in future years (the “increment”) is diverted into a separate pool of money, which can be used either to pay for improvements directly or to pay back bonds issued against the anticipated TIF revenue.
Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts (EIFDs)
EIFDs are a type of TIF district that a city could form to fund economic development projects. EIFDs are able to fund infrastructure maintenance and housing development, economic development, transportation infrastructure, sewage treatment, and climate adaptation projects, among other uses. EIFDs are a method for local agencies acting individually or collectively (i.e. with the County) to capture a portion of revenues resulting from economic growth within a specified boundary and invest it back into that area in a variety of activities that will provide a communitywide benefit, thereby acting as an incentive for additional economic investment. EIFDs do not increase property taxes and they cannot pull property taxes from school districts.
To discuss the potential to form a BID, please contact the Assistant City Manager at (530) 542-6024