NTFPD Loses One Among Ranks
Tim Schrader, North Tahoe Fire Protection District facilities coordinator, was involved in a backcountry incident in mid-March. Despite the heroic efforts of others at the scene to revive him, Schrader succumbed to his injuries in the mountains he so dearly loved.
“Tim touched the heart (and funny bone) of everyone he knew,” said Chief Steve Leighton. “He was a perfectionist in everything he did, not only with North Tahoe Fire, but especially as a husband, father, athlete, coach, mentor, and friend. We ask you to keep Tim’s family, fire family, and friends in your thoughts as we grieve the loss of such an incredible human being.”
North Tahoe’s thanks go out to those who helped with the recovery effort. Rescue teams responded to the scene and used a helicopter for the recovery. The effort was accomplished with cooperation from agencies including Nevada County Search and Rescue, Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue, Placer County Avalanche Dog Team, Naval Air Station Fallon/U.S. Navy, Tahoe Donner XC, Cal Fire, California Highway Patrol, Truckee Fire, and Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.
~ NTFPD press release
Fourth of July Fireworks Suspended
The Incline Village Crystal Bay Firework Coalition has decided to once again suspend their annual Fourth of July fireworks show. The group’s decision was based on current and projected local and state directives associated with the ongoing Covid-19 crisis and the high levels of visitation the region experienced last summer.
While the fireworks will be paused again this year, there is still a chance that smaller community-oriented events will take place to celebrate the holiday for residents and visitors.
“Last summer, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the community continued to experience significant visitation to [Incline Village General Improvement District] beaches not only over the Fourth of July holiday but throughout the summer season,” said Indra Winquest, general manager of IVGID. “While we are optimistic that we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel with this crisis, we must still be vigilant and responsible to ensure that we provide a safe and healthy experience for our community this coming summer season.”
The coalition consists of the Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau, Incline Village Crystal Bay Association, IVGID, Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe, and Parasol Foundation.
~ Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau
TBID Approved on North Shore
The Placer County Board of Supervisors voted March 9 to finalize the creation of the North Lake Tahoe Tourism Business Improvement District, freeing up over $4 million in Transient Occupancy Tax for transportation and workforce housing projects while generating an additional $6 million in assessment revenue for North Lake Tahoe annually.
With the creation of a new tourism business improvement district, or TBID, a 1% to 2% assessment will be placed on lodging, retail, restaurant, and recreation businesses in North Lake Tahoe. The projects to be funded with the initial freed-up TOT revenue include an on-demand micro-transit service in the Placer County portion of the Tahoe Basin, expanded TART park-and-ride services, pedestrian crossing guards, enhanced trash service, and increased snow removal service at trail heads. The board also approved the allocation of over $1 million in transient occupancy tax to the specified transportation and tourism mitigating projects after action was taken to form the TBID.
Newly funded projects will start as soon as June 2021 and will run through the end of the year.
~ Placer County press release
Tahoe National Forest Approves Marquee Additions to Trail Network
The U.S. Forest Service has recently approved the East Zone Connectivity Project, authorizing construction of marquee additions to the Truckee trail network. New trail construction will occur on the west slope of the Verdi Range adjacent to Boca and Stampede reservoirs.
Specifically, the connectivity project approves:
The construction of 70 miles of motorcycle single-track, including key connections to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the community of Verdi
The restoration of 41 miles of user-created OHV trail through sensitive areas
The construction of several new staging areas and trailheads
In addition, the connectivity project designates 35 miles of existing non-motorized trails as open to Class 1 e-bikes, including the Sawtooth Trail, the Jackass Ridge trail system, Emigrant Trail, and the Big Chief Trail. This is the first major addition of authorized Class 1
e-bike use on National Forest System trails within the surrounding area.
“From the historic paths of the Washoe, the Emigrant Trail, and the Transcontinental Railroad, to the more recent additions of Interstate 80 and the Airport District, the Truckee area has often found itself at the center of a trail and transportation network,” said Jonathan Cook-Fisher, Truckee district ranger. “We hope that the opportunities afforded by the East Zone Connectivity Project, along with other regional trail projects, honors this history … In the future, we envision multiple routes to travel on between the communities of Lake Tahoe’s North Shore through Truckee and on to Verdi or Reno, or west over the Sierra to points beyond.”
~ Tahoe National Forest press release
Spaghetti Bowl ‘Big Squeeze’ Begins
Major Interstate 580 lane and merge changes, dubbed the “Big Squeeze,” launched mid-March as part of Nevada Department of Transportation Reno’s continuing Spaghetti Bowl improvements.
The name reflects new lane and merge changes that will “squeeze” traffic lanes within the Spaghetti Bowl through spring 2022. The temporary lane configurations are needed for ramp and bridge improvements.
The following merge/lane switches are in place:
- Westbound I-80 to southbound I-580 traffic will merge directly onto I-580 lanes as opposed to the current dedicated merge lane
- Eastbound I-80 to southbound I-580 Spaghetti Bowl ramp will be temporarily reconfigured to one lane, with a dedicated lane to southbound I-580
- Southbound I-580 travel lanes will be additionally shifted directly south of the Spaghetti Bowl to make room for ramp improvements
Travel delays should be expected. Drivers are encouraged to consider alternate routes, allow for extra travel time, slow down, and be attentive for new merge and lane patterns.
The following Spaghetti Bowl ramps will intermittently be closed overnight 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. through 2022:
- Northbound I-580 to eastbound I-80 and westbound I-80
- Westbound I-80 to southbound U.S. 395/I-580
- Eastbound I-80 to northbound U.S. 395 and southbound I-580
- Southbound I-580 ramps to 2nd Street, Sundays through Thursdays through at least June 2021
- Southbound I-580 ramps to Mill Street, Sundays through Fridays through at least June 2021
Surface street lane closures: bit.ly/3wdbIvp
Over the next two years, the eastbound I-80 to southbound I-580 Spaghetti Bowl ramp will be widened to two lanes, and eastbound I-80 lanes between Wells Avenue and the Spaghetti Bowl will be striped. On southbound I-580, auxiliary merge lanes and improved ramps will also be added between the Spaghetti Bowl and Plumb Lane, along with sound and aesthetic walls. The first phase of construction will not require relocation of any residences.
Project information and sign-up for email project updates is available at ndotspaghettibowl.com.
~ NDOT press release
TTUSD Negotiations with Teachers Union
The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District and the Tahoe Truckee Education Association have met at least six times regarding a five-day, in-person learning Memorandum of Understanding and 2020/21 salary negotiations. TTUSD and TTEA signed the MOU for in-person learning, but conversations regarding compensation are ongoing.
During the latter half of March, the district received notice of additional one-time funding resources allowing it to modify its initial fiscally responsible offer. Because it is not ongoing year to year, TTUSD will not utilize this additional one-time funding for an ongoing salary increase. Even though the district cannot offer more than 2% ongoing this year, if the property tax increase exceeds expectations, TTUSD can provide additional compensation for 2021/22. Keeping this in mind, TTUSD updated its proposal to cover this and next school year as follows:
Salary 2020/21: 2% ongoing salary increase on schedule retroactive to July 1, 2020; and 1% one-time of the salary schedule payment.
Salary 2021/22: Contingent ongoing salary increases based upon property taxes effective July 1, 2021.
TTEA rejected TTUSD’s offer and proposed a contingent uncapped offer that would utilize tax increases received in 2021/22 for 2020/21 negotiation year. This would still require both TTEA and TTUSD to return to the table to negotiate 2021/22 compensation.
TTUSD shared that it cannot in good faith obligate unknown future revenues for ongoing costs.
~ TTUSD website
Commissioners Adopt Ordinances and Fees for STRs in Unincorporated Washoe County
INCLINE VILLAGE/CRYSTAL BAY
Washoe County commissioners held a public hearing on March 23 to adopt ordinances related to short-term rentals as well as the fee schedule for those ordinances. There are up to 1,200 STRs in the county depending on the season, most of which are located in the Incline Village/Crystal Bay area. They are currently not regulated by local ordinances to address issues such as parking, life-safety, or noise and occupancy limits. After two years of public outreach, research, and planning, county staff presented the ordinances in February. With the approval, the ordinances will go into effect before the busy summer tourist season, giving staff time to collect feedback and revise the ordinances as needed before winter.
Commission Chair Bob Lucey referred to the board’s actions as a “starting place” from which they will be nimble and ready to adjust as the needs of the community become more clear. With the adoption of the ordinances, commissioners advanced to a resolution on fees, which includes a tiered permit schedule based on occupancy and fines for violations of the ordinances. The cost to administer and enforce the ordinances is estimated around $192,000, which is expected to be paid for by STR permit fees and fines. To learn more about the ordinances and fees, visit bit.ly/3u17wNB.
~ Washoe County press release
Senate Bill 52 Would Promote and Preserve Nevada’s Uniquely Dark Skies
The Sierra Nevada Alliance is encouraging Nevada residents to contact their state assembly members and ask them to pass Senate Bill 52, which “requires the establishment of a program for awarding a dark sky designation to certain sites in this state.” Nevada’s state senate passed the bill on Feb. 22. Currently, the bill is being reviewed by the state assembly’s Committee on Natural Resources.
Tahoe Prosperity Center Receives Grant for Resiliency Plan
The Tahoe Prosperity Center announced it has received a notice of award of a U.S. Economic Development Administration grant of $164,348 to facilitate a Tahoe Basin-wide Economic Recovery and Resiliency Plan.
Although tourism brings in $3 billion a year in revenue to the area, this is mostly on the backs of locals working jobs that don’t pay a living wage, which made it impossible for so many of Tahoe’s residents to prepare for a lengthy unemployment.
The Tahoe Prosperity Center recognizes that tourism will continue to be a mainstay of the regional economy, so the first focus of the Recovery and Resiliency Plan is to ensure that tourism remains a stable source of revenue and that existing businesses and jobs in the region are retained. It also focuses on expanding sustainable recreation as part of the tourism sector and the workforce needs for existing, new, and potential industries. Lastly, the center aims to engage new residents, remote workers, and Tahoe’s other existing industries (like health and wellness and environmental innovation) to help them bring new revenue sources to the local economy.
~ Tahoe Prosperity Center press release
Forest Service Makes Progress on E-Bike Proposal
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE
The USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit is developing a plan to improve electric bicycle access and trail system sustainability on National Forest System lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
E-bike use is currently permitted on Lake Tahoe NFS roads and trails that are designated for motor vehicle use in accordance with the Forest Service’s Travel Management Rule. The proposed action will continue to allow e-bikes to be used on motorized trails, while expanding access to specific NFS trails where e-bike access is currently unauthorized.
Outside of Lake Tahoe NFS roads and trails, e-bike access is allowed on certain roads and trails in the Lake Tahoe Basin that are managed by state, county, and local jurisdictions.
There were about 250 attendees at a virtual open house co-hosted with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency on March 10. The webinar introduced the Basin Wide Trails Analysis Project that would amend the LTBMU trail system map to allow Class 1 e-bikes on specific trails and clarify where motorized access is permitted.
~ US Forest Service press release
TART Truckee Local Route Begins Spring Service
The Truckee Local Route began its spring service with a modified route and schedule on April 5. The change takes the bus off the bypass and serves Truckee Way and Brockway Road in both directions, and includes a hard stop at the Crossroads Center coming from the west end of Donner Lake (this was previously by request only). The modified route will better serve the new affordable housing at Frishman Hollow II, Coburn Crossing, the Artist Lofts, and the new housing at Coldstream.
The schedule starts 30 minutes earlier at the bottom of the hour and ends 30 minutes earlier on the last run. The 6:30 a.m. start allows for a connection to Regional TART at the Truckee Train Depot for its first bus along Highway 89 at 7:30 a.m. The last trip of the evening on that service will end at 6:30 p.m. TART will resume the previously short-lived night service connection from the Truckee Train Depot to both Squaw Valley and Northstar with this new schedule, starting at 6:35 p.m. connecting into Squaw Valley, and a
6 p.m. run to Northstar. These late routes will allow for the workforce that travels between North Lake Tahoe and Truckee to connect at both Squaw and Northstar to Regional TART’s night service.
The modified schedule is available at bit.ly/3rwZSsz.
~ Town of Truckee press release
Earth Walk Site Completed
An earth walk is inspired by the 10,000 years of Tahoe’s first people who walked with the earth as opposed to on the earth. These trails share the Indigenous values of nature immersion and forest bathing.
The Incline Village Earth Walk site is now complete at the Incline Village visitor center, 969 Tahoe Blvd. Just park or bus to the center, purchase the Earth Walk Guide booklet for $5, and head out on the sidewalk that borders the disc golf course. The guide has a map for this easy half-mile immersion and provides techniques for enriching your experience and space for you to reflect. Sustainable Tahoe is facilitating the emergence of earth walk sites throughout the original Washoe territory.
Learn more about the project at sustaintahoe.org/walk-softly.html.
Tahoe Conservancy Commits to Funding Forest Health Projects
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE
The California Tahoe Conservancy board recently authorized $1,358,500 for three projects to reduce wildfire risk and improve forest health in the Lake Tahoe Basin. California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot anchored a panel of state and federal executives for a discussion with the conservancy board. The panel addressed how to further integrate sustainable communities, racial equity, tribal co-management, and other state priorities into regional efforts in the Basin.
Through the three newly funded projects, the conservancy and its partners will reduce hazardous wildfire fuels on 418 acres of conservancy, local government, and private lands within communities on the West and North shores. The conservancy has also released a new story map showing how climate change is affecting Lake Tahoe and how Basin partners are adapting. The story map is available online at tahoe.ca.gov/climate-story-map.
~ CTC press release