Readers Reflect | April 2023

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In response to Resorting to Poor Conditions for J-1 Workers in the March 2023 print edition

J-1 worker treatment plain wrong

Thank you so much for bringing light to this embarrassing and morally unacceptable treatment of the J-1 employees at our resorts that are making more than enough profit to treat them better. To require them to be “creative” and come up with their own transportation in the middle of an epic winter is beyond cruel. I simply don’t understand why these resorts do not have to comply with the California labor laws. Is it because these employees are foreigners on temporary visas? Without the J-1 visa employees, all of the resorts would have a hard time keeping everything open — including all the lift chairs. The least they should do is provide adequate lodging and transportation. I am pretty sure this was not the “cultural exchange” experience these young kids had hoped. 

~ Min Yi, Truckee, via letter

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Poor J-1 worker treatment at resort is well known

I started working at [the] Resort at Squaw Creek, now under a different name, in 2020. I worked in the back-of-house. Since I started working, it was generally known how bad the living conditions were for the J-1s. Everyone knew that they lived in cramped conditions with many people to a room. At various points during my employment, I would see some J-1s sleeping on benches inside hallways, and once even on a bench inside of an employee bathroom. Another bad part of the deal was that rent would be deducted from their paychecks. [The resort] has a long history of using J-1s to back-fill labor needs and save a lot of money. From the time I worked there to when I left in 2022, there were three groups of J-1s who had cycled through: Indians, Filipinos, and Montenegrins.

It is my understanding from talks with my former boss and a former manager of one of the restaurants on the property that the poor condition of the J-1 housing was repeatedly brought up to Hyatt upper-management, but it was completely ignored and dismissed by either top management or the owner, Mr. Ting, himself; top management being above the executive chef and restaurant managers.

~ Patrick Solomon, Reno, via letter

In response to Whack the Traffic Woes

Make resorts responsible for ski area traffic

One option is that Truckee could file CEQA suits against Alterra and Vail for not doing an environmental assessment on the effect of selling virtually unlimited passes. Even the cheapest passes allow skiing on all but holiday weekends. Demand that limits be placed on passes that allow any weekend access to the Tahoe area resorts, which would require that a true midweek pass (which used to be available) be offered. Have the Truckee mayor declare a state of emergency and turn away people coming from Reno and the valley/Bay Area when traffic constitutes a threat to public safety. The bus lane is a great idea, but we cannot wait years for it, and I doubt Placer County will ever do it. Lobby the governor and state legislature to create a North Tahoe/Truckee traffic agency, somewhat like the TRPA, with the ability to tax the resorts or their ticket and pass sales, to fund and build transit without needing approval from Placer and Nevada counties.

~ Jack Kashtan, Truckee, online comment at moonshineink.com

Traffic solutions abound

When we say “our mountains” it sounds like you mean that others do not have the right to visit them. But these are national forests with a mandate that recreational opportunities there are open to all. The mountains and the roads that access and them belong to the public.

The solution will not be singular but many. Indeed, the simpler solutions need to be tried. Increase the cost of passes that allow weekends, or at least Saturday, use. Come up with ways to divert pass holders to Sugar Bowl or Boreal on busy weekends. Increase the amount of lodging near the mountains; encourage STRs within the valleys at Palisades and near Northstar to keep people off 89 and 267. Slow development in the Truckee/Tahoe region. The traffic comes from people driving to the resorts, often originating in Truckee, Reno, and of course up 80. Get a bus lane going; have a reversible direction third lane. Charge a lot for parking and put all that money into the alternative solutions. Remember — you are not stuck in traffic, you are traffic.

~ Carl Jones, Truckee, via Facebook

In response to Moonshine Ink articles and opinion pieces about development

It’s apples to smoked turkeys

This is in reference to the “study” provided to the public regarding the impact of increased traffic to be expected if the Waldorf Astoria Lake Tahoe complex is built as proposed. Let’s start by assuming that the “experts” wanted to do an honest evaluation and communicate their findings to the public. What a crock — their entire report is based on the idea that traffic was acceptable when the Hotel/Casino Biltmore was being operated in 2006. And they are happy to say that the now-dropped Boulder Bay proposal was terrible — much worse than the Biltmore — and the Waldorf Astoria is so much better than Boulder Bay, so it’s not so bad! 2006 was a totally different time and nothing from so long ago can be considered to have real world application in 2023.

The report is a study in obscure traffic engineer doubletalk. Anyone wanting to evaluate the traffic could see that we are talking about a 4-mile stretch of two-lane road from the intersection of highways 431 and 28 to the intersection of highways 267 and 28. This is not complicated inner-city traffic. The correct approach would have been to set up traffic measuring strips along the 4-mile stretch for a year and observe when and how traffic backups occur during snow weekends, summer weekends, highway repair days, traffic accidents, and snow removal days. One could then get an idea of just how often and how slow it can be to travel this road — either way.

No one seems to really understand that adding 3000-plus additional “trips” on Highway 28 is going to be a disaster for all concerned. And they make many rosy predictions about mass transit availability, which is a joke, generally, and will be completely useless in a bad winter storm. (But tourists in their cars will try to get in by the thousands.)

And they miss the forest for the trees — the forest being that Highway 28 is a narrow, fragile, and dangerous road that will be backed up by the stoplights at Stateline, the roundabout going to 431, the Kings Beach roundabouts, people trying to access Highway 28 from all the local roadways along that stretch and the people trying to access the road from the various projects that they want to approve. The potential for accidents is high and the resulting tie-ups will make a hash out of their projections.

This is really pie in the sky, not a legitimate evaluation, but more an exercise in trying to prove the preordained and desired result. It’s not apples to apples, it’s apples to smoked turkeys. And this study is a turkey, for sure.

~ Richard Beaty, Kings Beach, via letter

In response to Truckee Post Office Needs Your Help in the March 2023 print edition

Thank you

Beautifully written! Thank you for all you do and have done for our wonderful “little” town.

~ Annie Ottley, Truckee, via Facebook

Where are all the good jobs?

When I worked in Truckee in the ’80s, everyone wanted to work at the P.O. Wages were great. They didn’t have trucks; you had to use your own vehicle. Then they went to home delivery, which is the worst idea ever. You live where the snowplows are out and they don’t care about your box; they have a job to do. It’s really sad when people complain about paying 50 cents to mail a letter anywhere!! Moved to Reno, Nevada, and they have the same problems here. Nobody wants to work for the P.O. anymore — long hours, no training, and the postal manager doesn’t care, either.

~ Susan Chavez Weiler, Reno (previously 17 years in Truckee), via Facebook

Raise wages

Can we talk about how this isn’t just a P.O. problem. Most companies around Truckee want to pay workers $15 – to $20 an hour, but where can I live off that wage??

Snowflower, Cisco, and others want to pay $15 an hour to their employees. Why do you think they haven’t been open in years??

No one wants to pay workers a living wage to live in the area, and no one is going to commute from Reno or Colfax to work for $18 an hour.

People are charging $500 per bed in a room of four for living; it’s ridiculous. And we wonder why the town is falling apart.

~ Hextilda Lemon, Truckee, via Facebook

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