TTD Memo re: IV Transit Hub Approval Process

January 19, 2021

TTD/TTC Board Agenda Packet – January 22, 2021 ~ Page 37 ~

GF/ja AGENDA ITEM: VI.A.

MEMORANDUM

Date: January 18, 2021

To: Tahoe Transportation District (TTD) Board of Directors

From: TTD Staff – Fink

Subject: Approval of Public Process and Schedule for Acquisition and Site Alternatives

Analyses for the Old Elementary School Site Located at 771 Southwood

Boulevard, and a Potential Project for a Transit Mobility Center

Action Requested:

It is requested the Board approve the public process and schedule related to acquisition of the old elementary school site located at 771 Southwood Boulevard as a placeholder property, subject to a formal site alternatives analysis and project concept development post acquisition.

Fiscal Analysis:

The East Shore Trail is an approved Washoe County-1 (WC-1) project as part of the larger

Nevada Stateline to Stateline Bikeway Project. Washoe County has indicated there are

sufficient WC-1 funds remaining to support an amendment (amendment #4) to their agreement

with TTD for the planning and development of a potential mobility center in Incline Village.

TTD has requested authorization to the use remaining WC-1 funds in the amount of $285,000.

This request is pending before the Washoe County Board of Commissioners.

TTD has been awarded $1.956 million from Title 49 of the US Code Section 5339 Bus and Bus

Facilities fund program through the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) and with the concurrence of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for acquisition, with another $1.2 million for demolition and asbestos abatement awaiting the formal award letter. Additional funds will be needed for redevelopment of the property. A variety of nonfederal source funds are available through various programs for match for the purchase and demolition, including but not limited to Transportation Development Act, State Question 1, and Washoe County 1 funds. The purchase and demolition costs are based on an April 2019 appraisal prepared for WCSD in anticipation of sale.

Work Program Analysis:

The site is currently used seasonally as part of transit service operations so any associated staff time is included in the work program. Acquisition and redevelopment of the property as a project will affect future work programs.

Background:

Role of Transit System as Part of Many Mode Transportation Solutions for Tahoe

For decades, jurisdictions have collaborated with Lake Tahoe communities on regional public surveys, detailed planning processes, and adopted programs to improve the traveler experience. In general, the Tahoe basin has agreed, through law, plans, and funding that:

• The current roadways should not be expanded.

• There is a collective desire to maintain and improve the clarity of the lake through environmentally-sound and sustainable, measured growth initiatives.

• Reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMTs) is a necessary tactic to achieve the region’s goals.

• Congestion is a major issue facing residents and visitors alike, causing friction across communities. This issue is one that will continue to get worse and compound with current and future increases in resident and visitor populations. Reducing cars on the road is critical to the safety and well-being of our communities.

A current top priority is the safety and circulation of travelers on SR28. Incline Village and the recreating public continue to be very vocal about this problem. Over the years, these concerns have resulted in identified system improvements and services in the Regional Transportation

Plan (TRPA), the State Route 28 Corridor Management Plan (TTD), Coordinated Human

Services Transportation Plan, Short Range Transit Plans (TTD and TART), the Transit Master

Plan (TTD), annual unmet transit needs hearings (TRPA), and the Washoe County Tahoe Area

Plan. System improvements and services take years and revenue to implement, and some have been developed. Successfully completed projects with these broader goals in mind include

Incline Village’s roundabout at the base of SR 431, Tahoe City’s Transit Center,  the Fanny

Bridge project, major segments of the West Shore Trail, the award-winning Mobility Hub at Lake Tahoe Community College, and the beautiful East Shore Trail.

However, more projects are needed to continue to address Lake Tahoe’s challenges.

Congestion is, and will continue to be, a major issue facing Incline Village. Parking is limited to businesses, unimproved shoulders, residential streets, and beaches. Safety is a concern. TTD and regional partners, including TRPA as well as Washoe County, are exploring possible solutions to transportation and traffic issues facing Incline Village. Local problems are often symptomatic of Tahoe’s larger regional challenges. These challenges require strategic solutions that address the visitation growth, while offering residents better ways to move around

Tahoe. TTD and its partners continue to pursue options to solve some of the community’s concerns and identify possible solutions, including locations for enhanced parking solutions and a mobility center wherein multiple community needs could be met.

Mobility Centers or Hubs and Community Connection

Incline Village is only one of many planned mobility centers identified in planning efforts within the Tahoe basin. Other communities are Meyers and South Lake Tahoe. Inter-regionally, there are park and rides or mobility centers identified for the Truckee area, Reno, Carson, and Douglas County. Along SR 28 in Nevada, TTD is addressing additional off-highway parking areas with transit and trail connectivity by expanding the existing US Forest Service lots, adding another small parking area at Skunk Harbor, and building a new trailhead lot and permanent boat inspection center near the junction of SR 28 and US 50.

The focus on Incline Village is a direct result of the Washoe County School District (WCSD) moving to dispose of the old Incline Elementary School located at 771 Southwood Blvd.

For thelast nine years, TTD has operated the East Shore Express providing public transit to Sand Harbor, and now the East Shore Trail, from this site.

The East Shore Express carries about 40,000 passengers per season and helps reduce the need for parking in the corridor.

In August of 2019, the WCSD board took action to open a bid process for sale of the site after the Incline Village General Improvement District (IVGID) formally declined purchasing the site and ended discussions with WCSD.

Staff had reported to the Board on several occasions in 2019 on the potential loss of the school site and how that would leave the seasonal service without an alternative. The loss of the site would likely mean a cessation of the seasonal service provided by TTD, unless another suitable site could be found.

At the September 2019 meeting of TTD, the Board authorized the District Manager and Legal Counsel to develop cooperative agreements on funding, pursue due diligence, and develop an acquisition funding package and timeline for the site.

The purchase of the site is a placeholder and does not commit any agency to pursue a project. However, a decision not to purchase the site could result in the WCSD selling it to another party before a formal alternatives analysis is complete.

TTD has performed a preliminary review of available sites within the SR 28 Corridor and determined that the old Incline Village Elementary School site should be preserved for further study. The site is properly zoned, has performed the use for the past nine years, possesses adequate coverage for mobility needs, is adjacent to high density residential and community commercial, as well as having signalized access to SR 28.

Other potential sites listed below will also be studied, including a detailed alternatives analysis, before any project planning can begin in earnest.

• Former Incline Elementary School, 771 Southwood Blvd., Incline Village, NV

• “Tahoe Inn” – 9937 N Lake Blvd, Kings Beach, CA

• “Nine 41” – 941 and 947 Tahoe Blvd., Incline Village, NV

• Former gas station, 560 Lakeshore Blvd., Incline Village, NV

• Mount Rose Ski Tahoe parking lot, 22222 Mt Rose Hwy, Reno, NV

• Diamond Peak Ski Resort parking lot, 1210 Ski Way, Incline Village, NV

• Former Spitsen Lumber site, 1054 Tahoe Blvd, Incline Village, NV

• Washoe County Sheriff Sub-Station, 625 Mt. Rose Hwy, Incline Village, NV

Discussion:

Over the past few weeks, Staff have met twice with the Board-established ad hoc committee for Incline Village. The committee was informed of the status of the project including funding, federal requirements, and proposed schedule.

FTA Categorical Exclusion Process and Property Acquisition Requirements

Of particular interest was the Categorical Exclusion (CE) received for the “protective acquisition” of the property at 771 Southwood Boulevard and the requirements of the acquisition pursuant to the CE.

FTA allows for a CE to be applied under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the acquisition and transfer of real property interest. This CE covers cases where the property is acquired and remains essentially unchanged from its previous use until the NEPA is completed for the future FTA-assisted project that may make use of the property. Note that acquiring property pursuant to this CE must not limit the evaluation of alternatives when the future FTA assisted project is evaluated in the FTA environmental review process, which must allow for the possibility that the property will not be used for the project. While TTD has performed a preliminary review of available sites, in no way is the preliminary review considered to be a satisfaction of the FTA requirement. A final alternatives analysis will be prepared prior to project concept development and complete environmental analysis.

Process for Project Concept Development After Alternatives Analysis and Site Selection

At this time, there is no developed project concept for the school site or any other site. The unique CE provision allows for “protective acquisition” of a property to preserve its option as a placeholder property for a project when the property is at risk of being sold and therefore unavailable to a transit agency.

Alternative site analysis and project development process funds are available through Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG), and dollars are in the programming document to be considered for recommendation by the TTD Board sitting as the advisory Commission to the TRPA in its role as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (Tahoe MPO or TMPO).

Without these funds, TTD will not be able to conduct the site alternatives analysis and project concept development.

Proposed Calendar for Public Engagement and Consideration of Purchase Agreement

Staff and the committee have discussed having two to three virtual town halls in the month of February with at least one being held during the day and one during the evening. The intent is to be educational and informative for all parties, and to seek input on alternative sites for analysis.

The purchase agreement with WCSD will be proposed for consideration by the TTD Board at its March 12 meeting.

Pending approval of the purchase agreement and funding agreements, including the programming of funds through the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) process by TRPA and NDOT, a consultant will be hired to complete a planning process for addressing community concerns around transportation challenges in and around Incline Village/Crystal Bay. This planning effort will continue with community engagement and public outreach processes to further develop community-based solutions into an actionable project. The overall effort will be complemented by a Project Development Team (PDT) structure comprised of several representative groups, such as stakeholders, businesses, and agencies involved in the project, as well as District support.

As noted in the prior discussion, acquisition of the school site is a placeholder opportunity to prevent its loss as a site option. Staff also discussed with the ad hoc committee that timing is of the essence as several factors compel action sooner rather than later. First, WCSD is eager to sell the property and has been generous in the time that has been given to TTD to procure funds and the opportunity to purchase the site. The dialog with WCSD has been underway since August of 2019. WCSD Board approved the sale to TTD in September of 2020, and recently agreed to TTD postponing the purchase agreement consideration from TTD’s January meeting to its March meeting. Equally, if not more importantly, the federal funds from FTA are at risk of loss if they are not obligated this federal fiscal year. With the bureaucratic procedural steps and the timing that is necessary to encumber the funds, it means that everything must be completed and lined up no later than the end of June.

Recommendation

Based on the discussions with the ad hoc committee, TRPA, NDOT, WCSD, Washoe County, and public comment to date, it is recommended that the Board discuss and adopt a calendar and commitment to public process in phases.

Phase I:

Two to three virtual public town hall meetings prior to the March TTD meeting

• The first meeting in the week of February 8

• The second meeting in the week of February 22

• A possible third to be held in the week of March 1 or March 8;

Staff will meet with the ad hoc committee to discuss presentation content prior to first town hall March 12 TTD meeting – consider action on the purchase agreement with WCSD.

Phase II:

Conduct two additional public town hall meetings about the acquisition and site alternatives  analyses to be conducted

• Hold the first virtual meeting in late March

• Hold the second in mid-April

April 9 TTD meeting – will include an update on funding decisions and obligation, procurement process for site alternatives analyses, and project concept development. Next phase levels will be brought to the TTD Board, along with the results of the site alternatives analyses.

Additional Information:

If you have any questions or comments regarding this item, please contact George Fink at (775)

589-5325 or gfink@tahoetransportation.org.

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