At the recommendation of Erin Ellis, whom I interviewed last month, I met Steve Hoch at Heritage Plaza in Tahoe City to learn about his Tahoe story. A Bay Area transplant, Steve is the father of a grown daughter who now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. As the executive director of the Tahoe City Downtown Association, he has a unique take on “patching together” a successful life in Tahoe.
How did Tahoe become your home?
I’ve been playing up here for many years. I’ve been a homeowner for 12 years, and I moved here full time about five years ago. I had always wanted to live here, but career and other parts of life kept me in the Bay Area. I was always plotting how and when I could move up here, and when my daughter Niki went to college, I made the move.
What part of Tahoe do you live in, and do you consider yourself a local although you weren’t born here?
I consider myself an ultimate “tweener” because I live in Alpine Meadows, but I also identify with Tahoe City and Squaw Valley. Calling yourself a local can be touchy with people who have lived here a long time. I guess I’m working to earn my local stripes.
What do you feel is one of the biggest struggles Tahoe locals face?
You have to have a certain amount of resiliency to deal with the economic struggle of living in Tahoe. Some people do two or three different jobs to patch things together to pay the bills and live the lifestyle. Also, people who have lived here for a while have done so many different things. It’s remarkable to talk to people who have lived here five or 10 years who have done all these different occupations. I think you have to have an ability to deal with and embrace change, and be willing to patch together a lifestyle. I don’t think it’s quite the straight and narrow.
What is your favorite Tahoe event?
I don’t have a single favorite. Summer concerts are part of the heart of Tahoe City. We have such an array of events now, from the Solstice Festival to the fireworks show that’s going to be the best ever! Oktoberfest, Holly Days … there is so much going on in Tahoe City you hardly need to check your schedule, because there’s always something cool going on!
How have you seen Tahoe change since you’ve lived here, and how do you imagine its future?
If I look around the North Shore of Tahoe, we’ve taken a pretty good beating. The cost of living, along with a few other factors, has decreased the resident population by about 50 percent in the past 20 years. When your resident population declines by this much it has a dramatic impact on your business economy and people’s ability to live here. I’m really encouraged by the various planning efforts that are going on. I think in the intermediate term we’re going to have the wind at our backs. Look at this place! Everyone loves being here. We have to make this place incredibly hospitable to our guests and that will provide vitality for our residents. I’m really optimistic about the long term. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing and living here if I wasn’t.
Who do you think has an interesting Tahoe Story?
Dave Wilderotter. He represents the spirit of Tahoe in a really beautiful way.
~ Look for Dave Wilderotter of Tahoe Dave’s fame in next month’s Tahoe Stories. The column, which runs online the fourth Friday of every month, explores how locals manage to make living in Tahoe work.