Counties Proclaim Local Emergency Due to Winter Storm
PLACER, EL DORADO, NEVADA COUNTIES
On Dec. 29, Placer and El Dorado counties proclaimed a local emergency due to the ongoing threat from winter storm conditions. Nevada County, too, has provided information in the past few days on coordinated road and other storm safety efforts and two emergency shelters that opened in Nevada City (details in these winter storm updates). Nevada County District 5 Supervisor Hardy Bullock referred to the county as in a state of emergency in a post to his Facebook page.
A record-setting winter storm resulted in unprecedented amounts of snow in upper Sierra Nevada elevations, with more snow predicted in coming days. Heavy snow and downed trees and utilities have caused extensive road closures, travel complications, and damage to infrastructure, including to Placer County Water Agency’s Boardman Canal. Over 10,000 residents in Placer have lost power and many will experience an extended outage in the foothills and mountains for several more days.
The local emergency proclamation for Placer asserts continuing risk to life and property, and that a full response is beyond the capabilities of local resources. It requests state and federal assistance, but state and federal disasters have not yet been declared that would authorize individual disaster assistance for residents and businesses. Residents and travelers can view real-time storm and traffic information for Placer County here.
In El Dorado County, Sheriff John D’Agostini also signed a proclamation of local emergency Wednesday evening. The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office said this would be the first step in making state emergency funds available to El Dorado County to repair roadways, facilities, and other critical infrastructure.
Over in the state of Nevada, Gov. Steve Sisolak has declared a state of emergency regarding extreme weather driving conditions for the state’s major highways that cross Sierra mountains.
Keep an eye out early next week for Moonshine Ink coverage of the big storm.
~ AH, BL
Father/Son Duo Accused of Arson Sparking the Caldor Fire
EL DORADO COUNTY
The Caldor Fire, according to Cal Fire, burned a total of 221,835 acres across three counties (El Dorado, Amador, and Alpine), and was active for 67 days during which South Lake Tahoe residents evacuated their homes. According to the El Dorado County DA’s office in a Facebook post on Dec. 8, a father and son are under arrest, accused of reckless arson in connection with the Caldor Fire.
“David Scott Smith, 66, and Travis Shane Smith, 32, were arrested pursuant to Ramey warrants,” reads the DA’s statement. “A Ramey warrant is a warrant that is issued before criminal charges are filed.”
The men are accused of violating section 452 of the California Penal Code, commonly referred to as “reckless arson,” which caused inhabited properties to burn and resulted in great bodily injury to multiple victims. The El Dorado County DA’s office worked together with the U.S. Forest Service, Cal Fire, the California Department of Justice, and the Sacramento County District Attorney’s crime lab to investigate the cause of the Caldor Fire.
Caltrans Urges Drivers to Avoid Travel to Sierra
Toks Omishakin, director of Caltrans, urged motorists on Dec. 29 to avoid nonessential mountain travel until weather conditions improve. Caltrans has closed 45 state highways since Dec. 24 due to record snowfall in the Sierra Nevada, having now reopened 29 highways, including Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 50, the main gateways to Lake Tahoe. Roadway conditions remain challenging with extensive delays and chain controls in effect.
Under the direction of Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) has activated the State Operations Center to monitor storm conditions and coordinate all necessary assistance. Caltrans is coordinating with CalOES, California Highway Patrol, local law enforcement, the Nevada Department of Transportation, and the National Weather Service to respond to changing conditions and keep roadways safe for travel.
In response to the snowfall, Caltrans has redirected all available crews into the mountains to reopen roadways, bringing operators from as far away as the Bay Area to assist. The department has 1,350 field staff clearing mountain highways, working 24/7 in 12-hour shifts, and has deployed more than 600 snowplows statewide.
So far, Caltrans has recorded more than $22 million in storm damage to state highways during the current winter storm, not including snow and fallen tree removal costs. Hundreds of trees have fallen onto highways, slowing the snow removal process. Caltrans shared the following safety tips for motorists who must travel to the mountains:
- Before heading out, check Caltrans QuickMap for the latest road closure and chain control information.
- Carry chains and be ready for winter driving conditions.
- Make sure your vehicle is in good working order by checking your brakes, wipers, antifreeze, heaters, and exhaust systems before you leave.
- Do not try to go around highway closures by using secondary roads.
- Have an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes blankets, water, food, a shovel, gloves, a flashlight, and sand or kitty litter to provide traction in case your vehicle becomes stuck.
- Bring cash in case power is unavailable for credit card transactions.
- Keep your phone charged in case you need it in an emergency.
Caltrans also shares these tips for once you’re on the road:
- Slow down and be alert for work zones as Caltrans crews, CHP officers, and other emergency responders are out trying to help control traffic and clear the roads.
- “Don’t crowd the plow”: Tailgating or trying to go around snowplows can result in potentially dangerous situations.
~ Caltrans press release
EKN Development Group Announces Acquisition of Beachfront Property
Broadening its portfolio in North Lake Tahoe, EKN Development Group, along with its financial partners, Garn Development and Stack Real Estate, added a beachfront property to provide lakefront amenities to the development of the Tahoe Biltmore into a luxury resort and residences. The property, costing $18 million and dubbed the Beesley Cottages and located at 6674 N. Lake Blvd. in Tahoe Vista, will add to EKN’s recent acquisition of the Tahoe Biltmore Lodge and Casino at the Nevada border. New additions will be called The Beach Club, and, according to a press release, “will enhance the experience of guest amenities at the envisioned luxury resort and residences.”
The Biltmore project was first approved by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in 2007, and EKN’s announcement states it will begin by building new roads (recently approved by Washoe County) which are intended to improve traffic circulation and eliminate existing unsafe road conditions around the Biltmore site.
~ EKN Development Group press release
Two County Broadband Projects Approved
In early December, the California Public Utilities Commission approved over $8 million for funding for two Nevada County broadband projects. Working with Race Telecommunications and Nevada County Fiber, the county plans to connect 527 additional Nevada County homes to broadband internet in District 1, encompassing Nevada City and the unincorporated areas of Banner Mountain, Cascade Shores, Deer Creek, and the Highway 174 corridor. The county has awarded $675,000 in grants to date.
Learn more about overall Tahoe/Truckee broadband infrastructure — and where it’s going — in this June Moonshine You Asked. They Answered.
~ Nevada County press release
Tahoe Local Wins FIS Alpine World Cup
Bryce Bennett of Tahoe City, 29, ended the U.S.’ five-year winning drought at the FIS (International Ski Federation) Alpine World Cup at Val Gardena in Italy with a first-place finish. Bennett beat out Otmar Striedinger of Austria, who took second, and Niels Hintermann of Switzerland, third. It was Bennett’s first career victory, overtaking Striedinger by 0.14 seconds. Adding to the U.S. victories at the competition were teammates Steven Nyman (three downhill victories) and Bode Miller (one super-G victory).
Accessory Dwelling Unit Grants and Mini-Loans Now Available
In its Dec. 10 newsletter, the Town of Truckee announced it is now accepting applications for $1,000 mini-grants, $15,000 loans, and $50,000 loans to help with permitting existing units and construction costs for new ADUs. Grant and loan options are available here.
~ Town of Truckee newsletter