March 27, 2020 Moonshine Minutes
Mayumi Elegado: Hey Tahoe/Truckee, are you looking for in-depth information on how the novel coronavirus is affecting our region? I’m Mayumi Elegado, founder, publisher, and editor-in-chief for Moonshine Ink, our region’s only independent newspaper. Our team has been reporting day and night on what this viral pandemic means for our economy, our community, and our people. And now we are bringing it to you via KTKE’s airwaves in a new segment we’re calling Moonshine Minutes. Deep gratitude to JD Hoss and his team for being here for the community in these extraordinary times. In a few short minutes, we’ll give you the highlights of the latest news in our coronavirus coverage. Find more on any of these in-depth reports at moonshineink.com. Stay safe, sane, and keep finding your moments of zen.
First up, as the COVID-19 threat became real, we immediately reported on Nevada County’s first case getting up-to-the-minute commentary from Truckee Mayor David Polivy and Tahoe Forest Health System CEO Harry Weis.
Then we connected with local grocery stores to see how they’re adapting as essential businesses in a time of great need. Billy Griffin, owner of New Moon Natural Foods in Truckee and Tahoe City, told us, “A week ago we were lowly grocery clerks. Now we’re front-line first responders serving the community, putting ourselves at risk, and these people still do it for $15 an hour.”
Alex Hoeft: I’m Alex Hoeft, Moonshine’s news reporter, and we’ve spent the past weeks working long hours to publish stories and circulate verified information about COVID-19’s effects on North Tahoe’s economy, the shelter-in-place order, and how local eateries and markets are adapting.
Our latest online-exclusive article looks into how the coronavirus has pulled the plug on short-term rentals and vacation-based lodgings, and how the counties and Town of Truckee will be enforcing that order. The short answer to that, by the way, is yes, law enforcement can issue citations if a lodging does not comply.
To understand the most important and relative information, we spoke with Jeff Loux, Town of Truckee manager and Cindy Gustafson, Placer County District 5 supervisor.
Loux explained the town had heard from lots of people who wanted to ban STRs completely. He said, “We were searching for our authority to do that and we got it … through [Nevada] County.”
One of Supervisor Gustafson’s points was that we need to consider the human elements behind short-term housing, like the Sierra Community House which sometimes uses short-term rentals as safe havens for those escaping domestic violence. Or the individual who’s staying locally to help their 88-year-old mother.
Gustafson told Moonshine, “I am very optimistic that we will see a reduction in unnecessary use, a reduction in the negative dialogue, and focus our attention on taking care of ourselves and our loved ones. We need to work together to fight the real enemy — the virus.”
We also connected with Cheri Sugal, a local STR owner, who circulated a petition to shut down short-term rentals completely. She said it’s not just the responsibility of short-term rentals, but visitors to understand they should stay away during this time.
“We’re not saying we don’t want them,” Sugal said, “we’re saying we don’t want them here right now.”
Read the full piece, titled Short-Term Rentals Must Close, on our website at moonshineink.com, along with our other exclusive online coverage.
Becca Loux: Becca Loux here, Moonshine reporter and editor, to let you know we’re also keeping our readers in-the-know with live updates — the number of positive cases in each county locally, orders passed down on a state and regional level, and the latest prevention against the coronavirus. We have a slideshow of photos that visually share what’s happening outside each of our homes; on the slopes of the ski resorts, inside the grocery stores, and out on the sidewalks of our community.
This health scare is a global pandemic, but it has very real and specific local consequences for Tahoe, an area with limited medical and housing capacity. We need the engagement of the community to point us to sources and information, and it’s happening all the time on social media. For example, we first found Cheri Sugal who became such an important source as an STR owner herself who stopped renting and became an activist against allowing vacation rentals during this time, because she commented on Moonshine’s Facebook account. We are all about sharing confirmed information, but the verification process is our job.
Send information you hear and tips to email@example.com or reach out via our social media platforms, and make sure you follow us on social media to keep up with all the stories we’re pushing out. Plus, we just learned that as news media is considered an essential service, our publication date is ON so be on the lookout for important coronavirus information that has longevity in print in a few weeks.
Wade Snider: Has your business been impacted by the coronavirus? Share your story with us this afternoon at 1 p.m. I’m Wade Snider, photographer for Moonshine Ink. My team and I want to help bring North Tahoe together during this uncertain time, so we’re hosting a community conference call for the local business community. We want to hear from you — how you’re coping, what you need, and the ideas you have to keep thriving.
This is an opportunity to connect with other business owners and resources to support you and your business. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to participate.
Mayumi Elegado: That’s it for our first installment of Moonshine Minutes. In this time of crisis, we promise you that our team just won’t quit. If you want to help keep Tahoe smart, support Moonshine Ink today at moonshineink.com/contribute. Thank you and take care.