July 24 2013

Lakeview Commons Triumphs with Summer Placemaking in South Lake Tahoe

One of the greatest ways a city can bring a community together is through a public park. Public parks benefit our cities in many ways, from public health and recreational opportunities, to strengthening the bonds between friends and families.

Most of us can remember when a park we frequented was torn down and converted into a parking lot or new development. For me, it was the park right behind my home. But lately, there has been a revival of public parks as cities begin to understand the power of green spaces and parks in their communities. Just look at how fast parklets are popping up around the country!

In South Lake Tahoe, the city is fortunate to have the space to do it big. The city built Lakeview Commons in 2013 to not only revive the local economy, but also to bring the community closer together.

South Lake Tahoe Lakeview Commons

Lakeview Commons is a fifty-six acre site that is located on El Dorado Beach in South Lake Tahoe. It offers stunning views of the lake and is within walking distance of many local restaurants, shops, and residential areas. When the city planned the park, it had both environmental and socioeconomic goals in mind. Some of their main objectives included improving water quality, as the location is located next to Highway 50 (a busy highway that can cause run-off issues); improving the scenic quality of the area; and spurring future investment. On each account, they succeeded.

South Lake Tahoe Summer Music Series Lakeview Commons

In the summer months, locals and tourists alike flock to the Commons to take a dip, rent boats and paddle boards, barbecue with a view, or take in the music at the weekly summer concert series. The summer concert series is one of my favorite things to partake in. People of all ages join together to listen to music, dance and share in good conversation. The park has not only revamped the community, but it has also brought in tourists from all over for events such as Fourth of July fireworks.

How does your city bring the local community together in the summer months?

Credits: Data linked to sources. Photos by Alex Riemondy.

Alex Riemondy

Alex Riemondy is a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Environmental Studies, and a Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning. Her interests in urban planning first stemmed from a cross-country bicycle trip in support of affordable housing. During the trip she became fascinated with connecting communities through the development of safe cycling routes. On a bike, she is constantly thinking about her urban environment and how it can grow to meet the needs of her community. Although currently living in Hummelstown, PA - having recently returned from working on a permaculture farm in Costa Rica - she plans to pursue a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning in Southern California. Finding happiness through connecting with her community and environment, she is most interested in improving citizen quality of life though: bicycle and pedestrian planning, green street design, and increasing citizen participation in the planning process.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 at 9:07 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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2 Responses to “Lakeview Commons Triumphs with Summer Placemaking in South Lake Tahoe”

  1. Alison Says:

    As a resident of South Lake Tahoe as well as a fellow design professional I thank you for your article.

    In a town that often feels overrun by tourists, Lakeview Commons, and specifically Harrison Avenue, is one of the few places in town that ‘local community’ happens.
    The success of a space is always contextual, and the Harrison Ave. with local shops and restaurants adjacent is an essential component to the feeling of community brought forth. I would argue that the park has not, ‘re-vamped’ community, but simply allowed a place for it to happen, as there are few opportunities for local gathering places, much if the city is built for tourists.

    I would encourage you to check out the TRPA regional plan, which designates this as a plan area focused on a local retail node along Hwy. 50, which has an overpowering and divisive influence on the ‘community’ of SLT.

    As a designer, I think we are all consistently studying and questioning the environments we are part of. Lakeview Commons is certainly a start, but if you believe that environments can create healthy communities and better places to live, then it is on a much larger scale than simply a park. The success of Lakeview Commons has the opportunity to become a catalyst for a much needed change in the ‘city (town)’ of South Lake Tahoe.

    I would ask you, what suggestions or ideas you have to build community in South Lake Tahoe? Furthermore, how do you build community in a place where much of the population consists of temporary visitors?

  2. Alex Riemondy Says:

    Thank you Alison for you thought provoking comment. I agree a park is simple place to start, but parks and open spaces are a great way to bring the local community together. I also agree that Harrison Ave is important to the success of Lakeview Commons, effective relationships between surrounding retailers and activities in public spaces is key.

    I’ve often asked myself the same question, how to build community in a place like South Lake. There is not one answer to creating strong communities through place making or investing in public spaces; each community is unique.

    Building community in South Lake means having to understand the social and economic contexts or challenges that come with being a top tourist destination. To build community in a place such as South Lake I think we need more events like the Summer Music Series. Truckee does a great job of bringing community members out for Truckee Thursdays, where locals gather to share great food and music. Unfortunately we don’t have a “downtown center” like Truckee so this is where we need to get creative in finding a good space, or work through the design process to cultivate one. Design aside though, encouraging locals to get out and get involved is crucial.

    In Nevada City, CA the community does a great job of putting on fun craft events and sporting activities that build such as bike races and soap box derbies. Although we don’t have a great spot for a soap box derby, getting creative and talking with community members about annual events they might want to see would be helpful. I don’t think I have any specific ideas, although I am a strong supporter of getting people involved through fun outdoor markets, and food events!

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