Reducing the pain of rebuilding for South Lake Tahoe fire victims |

Reducing the pain of rebuilding for South Lake Tahoe fire victims

William Ferchland
Nevada Appeal News Service

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – Owners of houses destroyed in the Angora fire can have the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency waive thousands of dollars in fees if they plan to build their new home roughly the same size.

John Singlaub, TRPA’s executive director who has taken flak for the agency’s policies on tree cutting, said there is a provision for rebuilding after a fire.

“We’re very clear we’re trying to make this – and it’s all in the code – to make this as painless as possible for people to rebuild,” Singlaub said.

Roughly 200 structures were burned to the ground in the fire, which ravaged neighborhoods off Lake Tahoe Boulevard and North Upper Truckee.

Fees associated with air, water and environmental qualities will be waived, but only if owners decide to build homes similar to their destroyed homes.

If owners want to “expand into mini-mansion, all bets are off” and the typical building fees will be levied, Singlaub said.

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In addition, TRPA can’t impose new requirements such as curbs and gutters on people if homes predated the requirements – except for “best management practices” to control runoff and erosion, Singlaub said.

Asking utility companies to improve stormwater treatment equipment and place overhead cables underground were some topics of conversation with El Dorado County officials, Singlaub said.

Those with destroyed homes should contact an architect or contractor first in order to submit plans to the county’s building department, said Larry Lohman, deputy director for the department.

A demo permit should also be obtained at the building department in South Lake Tahoe at 3368 Lake Tahoe Blvd., room 302. The phone number is (530) 573-3330.

Having the assessor’s parcel number for the house “would be the most helpful,” Lohman said.

The fire could possibly create headaches for the real estate market. Dozens of homes with signs advertising their sale were annihilated by the fire. One Chase International sign was melted to the ground in front of an obliterated home on Pyramid Circle. Down the street a Dickson Realty sign was blackened in front of another ruined home.

At 1540 Snow Mountain, a house listed for $874,000 stood among a wasteland. Although the flier promoted the “exterior lines, granite and cedar” of the house, the fire cracked its rear windows, partially melted a satellite dish, blackened an outside wall and caused a squirrel to scurry into the garage.

Bob Hedley, an agent with Chase International, said the real estate company had about six or seven listings in the area.

“Basically, of course, those properties aren’t going to be sold right away,” he said.

Surprisingly, Hedley said the fire could mean good business for the real estate market. He cited the international news coverage, people wanting to live in a soon-to-be “tourist attraction,” along with the outdoor lifestyle Tahoe offers.

With real estate prices already experiencing a downturn, Hedley doesn’t expect it to drop even more. The ripple effect from the fire should be “very temporary,” he said.