South Lake Tahoe to invest $3.5 million into snow removal equipment

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Lake Tahoe is making a multi-million dollar investment into snow removal equipment.

The City Council on Tuesday during an online meeting unanimously approved (5-0) a resolution to spend more than $3.5 million on new equipment that will help recycle and replace an aging fleet that spends about as much time being repaired as it does removing snow.

As an example during his presentation, Public Works Director Anush Nejad said the city has six blowers but on average just three are out on streets at any given time due to the 10-to-20-year old equipment breaking down.

The plan is to purchase four John Deere graders for $2,168,360.76 which would bring the city’s total to 16, two Zuagg Rolba 3000 snow blowers for $1,200,212 for eight total and one trackless snow blower ($167,680.54) for park maintenance. Nejad will purchase the trackless snow blower as soon as possible and it could be in use within a couple of weeks.

He said the other equipment had to be manufactured and is expected to be available by Nov. 1, in time for the next snow season. He added that the new blowers are more maneuverable and can complete the process faster and with more precision, including lesser snow berms.

Council members pushed back somewhat asking if the purchase is a reaction to a historic winter and Nejad assured them they would have to buy new equipment at some point to replace the older, failing machines.

The idea of snow melting machines were also brought up during the discussion and Nejad said he and his staff have looked into that but the cost is prohibitive.

Nejad and his staff have also been evaluating options to improve snow operations to provide better public service and ideally would like to hire five seasonal employees. He said there are 23 staffers in snow removal and they need 28 to put his plan into action.

Public works has created eight plowing zones — Gardner Mountain, Tahoe Keys, Tahoe Island, Tahoe Sierra, Al Tahoe, Bijou, Heavenly and Stateline — and Nejad would like to assign two operators for the night shift and another for the day shift.

He said the increase in operators will allow the Streets Division to complete the snow plowing during a 12-hour shift and continue to plow the streets with continuous snow operations or move to blowing operations when needed.

In other news, the council unanimously ratified the local emergency proclamation issued last week by City Manager Joe Irvin due to severe winter storms.

Council also passed a motion to hold a first reading of an ordinance amending the temporary activities and uses ordinance to modify permit criteria for special events.

The council also adopted the 2023-28 Strategic Plan after a presentation from Irvin.

To view the full agenda, visit here.