April 15, 2020 Moonshine Minutes
Mayumi Elegado here with today’s Moonshine Minutes.
In the mess that this pandemic has wreaked, short-term rentals and second-homeowners have been a topic bandied about loudly, online and in six-foot-distanced person. Moonshine Ink hosted a community conversation about it last Thursday on a Tahoe Talks video conference call and addressed the challenge of keeping it from being a matter of us versus them. It’s a complex subject, but local agency representatives and members of the public showed up, with a depth of knowledge, listening, and discussion that pushed the conversation definitively forward.
Here are a few of takeaways from what was shared:
- Truckee police chief Robert Leftwich pointed out that semantics are really important, and that sheltering-in-place is completely different from a stay-at-home directive. A shelter-in-place is when there’s an imminent threat — a hurricane or safety issue for example. It means do not come out of your house at all. The current stay-at-home order by California Governor Gavin Newsom creates social pressure toward our behavior norms, but is unenforceable by local law.
- Leftwich said everybody’s focused on the R-factor, the rate of transmission of the coronavirus between people. But he said we should really be looking at the i-Factor, what I am doing, what each individual is doing is to ensure we’re following the local and statewide orders.
- That led to the idea that it shouldn’t be about locals versus visitors and second-homeowners. Instead, let’s focus on the people not abiding by the social distancing directives and help them be better.
- The agencies reported that a large majority of STR owners have complied to the regional ban on STR business unless housing essential personnel. A few of the large platforms, such as Vacasa and TurnKey, have taken down listings. Others such as Airbnb and VRBO have not.
- Some people say they are still seeing visitors to the area. Cheri Sugal, a North Shore resident who has used her home as an STR before, said that every single short-term rental house on her street is still being rented out, every house is full.
- Local officials talked about getting the word out about not traveling up here via channels down the hill. Press releases, interviews with TV stations. Some people questioned how to best get the word out around here, with criticisms that the messaging is happening in fits and starts.
- Local lead agencies shared data tracking the situation.
- Placer County Supervisor Cindy Gustafson said that 70% of nonessential travel has been reduced in the county.
- And Jeffrey Hentz, CEO of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association said that a humbling 60% of the Tahoe-area workforce has been laid off – with those being in the tourism industry.
It was an illuminating conversation. Watch the full video conference call at youtube.com/moonshineink. These conversations we’re hosting give leaders and community members an opportunity to come together and address tough topics in a constructive way. Keep an eye out for future Tahoe Talks by visiting moonshineink.com/tahoetalks.
When you’re not sitting in front of a computer, Mother Nature is probably tempting you to head outside, especially now when there’s not much else we can do. I’m Alex Hoeft, news reporter for Moonshine. In our latest print edition, which hit stands yesterday, we talk safe spaces: Smart social distancing in the great outdoors.
Since the stay-at-home directive, which went into effect on March 19 — almost a month ago, if you can believe it — there’s been a big surge of backcountry recreation in our region. So while the sun shines and the snow beckons, we have a few recommendations on where to head outside both safely and separately:
- For folks itching to get some cross-country skiing done, Tahoe XC out of Dollar Point is still grooming for preexisting pass holders.
- Those heading into the backcountry, first, please, please, please keep an eye on avalanche warnings — the Sierra Avalanche Center is a great resource for this. Second, Castle Peak and Mt. Rose are stellar local spots.
- Snowshoeing around Donner Summit is another great social distancing activity, as is snowshoeing the Tahoe Rim Trail at Ward Creek near Tahoe City.
- For those more partial to a path cleared of snow, head out for a run, walk, or bike ride along the Legacy Trail in Truckee, Tahoe City’s Tahoe Trailways Bike Path, or the East Shore Trail in Incline Village.
All in all, be sure to stay at least six feet from others — even when arguing about short term rentals.
Happy tax day slash not tax day. Until tomorrow.