May 21, 2020 Moonshine Minutes
Hey everyone, I’m Alex Hoeft, news reporter for Moonshine Ink, here with today’s Moonshine Minutes.
The coronavirus pandemic quickly erased months of planning and budget reserves, and halted a workforce rooted in tourism. Liz Bowling, director of communications and public relations for the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, interviewed four North Tahoe business leaders to better understand the resilience that’s taking place both behind the scenes and on the frontlines of our community.
First, there’s Sahra Otero of Wanda’s Floral & Gift. This Tahoe City-based florist had to close its doors to the public … But Otero begged to differ on closing up shop completely.
She said, “To offload my remaining (and perishable!) inventory, I made little grab-and-go bouquets, and made them available for purchase at Sugar Pine Cakery in Tahoe City. They sold out immediately. So, I kept making them. Then I added plants.”
The support she saw from the community inspired her to offer no-contact deliveries and curbside pickup. 80% of her business had already been delivery-based, so staff simply needed to shift to non contact practices and implement protective measures like masks and gloves.
Otero said she’s learned a ton about her business and community through this pandemic. “I have discovered partnerships with other local businesses that will continue beyond our current situation … I have been shown that I am a vital part of the community, and that sending love with flowers brings light and hope to even the darkest corners of our human lives.”
Caroline Ross with Squaw Valley Neighborhood Company saw the reality of event cancellations firsthand. She’s led a small, hard-working team for 18 years, one that houses the creative minds behind Bluesdays, Brews Jazz & Funk, Oktoberfest, and Made in Tahoe, among others.
The future of Tahoe events is unknown, but Ross is able to offer a tenured perspective. Squaw Valley Neighborhood Company was far along in planning most of the year’s events, and then suddenly had to tackle each event individually and chronologically. The cancellation of WinterWonderGrass was devastating, she said, and the Tahoe Truckee Earth Day Festival won’t happen until April 24, 2021.
“Next, we looked at Made in Tahoe, slated for Memorial Day Weekend. Due to the size, nature, and importance of this event to our local entrepreneurial community, we have taken a gamble and postponed the event to Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 10 and 11. We know this event can be as successful in the fall, if we are allowed to proceed.”
Side note: There is a virtual version of Made in Tahoe taking place on Facebook over the weekend, from May 22 to the 25th. Visit the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Facebook page of more information.
Ross is still encouraging adaptation and working together to get through the uncharted territory that lies ahead. Through all of this, she said she’s looking forward with optimism.
Part two: Mayumi
While many of our regional events take place along the shores of Lake Tahoe, Jim Phelan, owner of Tahoe City Marina, is heavily involved with what goes on in the water. I’m Mayumi Elegado, publisher and editor-in-chief for Moonshine Ink.
Marinas are key to lake activities in the summer, ensuring motorized watercraft are maintained and regulated, service and fuel stations are staffed, and safety protocols are in place. As public boat ramps and private marinas around the Lake Tahoe Basin consider new strategies to open for the season, they are working together to define best practices and consistent policies.
Phelan, who’s involved with the Lake Tahoe Marina Association, said members from marinas around the lake have met to discuss appropriate measures around reopening.
“We learned that because of operational requirements to prepare boats for customer use, we were at various stages of our schedules. It then became necessary to try and understand when marinas could start operating in order for summer operations to become achievable. Each operation was asked to submit outlines of operating plans specific to COVID-19 to keep both the public and their employees safe.”
Phelan says his marina primarily serves locals and part-time residents. “I have personally watched three generations of families come through our business. The relationship with our part-time residents holds a great deal of importances with us because they have become part of the ‘family’ that we have grown up with.”
These part-time residents are a significant percentage of the community. Of 25,569 housing units in eastern Placer County, nearly 70% are owned by part-time residents. Additionally, 13.5% of homes are used as short-term rentals.
Jill Schott of Tahoe Moon Properties shared her thoughts on short-term rentals in the area and how we can move forward with unity.
“There is so much information out there and things are changing daily, but there is also a lot we still don’t know. It really helps to talk to people and tell them that we are here, we are human, and we will do everything we can to help everyone as best we can. Our guests feel so much better when we can tell them about everything happening on a local level.”
Schott and her colleagues have changed cleaning protocols and brought in new methods to keep cleaners safe and make sure homes are disinfected properly ahead of guest arrival. A 24-hour break between rentals could also be implemented — easy for new bookings but a nightmare for back-to-back ones already in place for this summer.
Schott’s overall outlook is positive. She said she doesn’t actually think Tahoe will suffer from a significant decline in tourism.
“I have attended so many webinars over the last month and the one general consensus is that as a drive market we will not see a decline, we may even see an increase. People really need to get out of their houses and going to Tahoe and staying in a vacation rental or other accommodations that do not have shared common areas seems like a safe first step.”
Schott says this idea is called “radical localism,” and it’s why local property managers have been working so diligently to make sure visitors understand the necessary safety precautions.
Otero, Ross, Phelan, and Schott all offer messages of resilience, implying that despite differences in industries and opinion, the best way to forge a path is to keep looking forward. Read Liz Bowling’s full article, Reopening and Resilience at moonshineink.com.
And be sure to pick up our latest Moonshine print edition, on stands now. Until tomorrow, look for your moments of zen.