Supervisors Approve Temporary Moratorium on New Short-Term Rental Permits
Placer County’s board of supervisors approved a temporary moratorium on new short-term rental permits in North Lake Tahoe, the latest in a series of recent actions to address an unprecedented and growing housing crisis in the region.
The urgency ordinance, approved by a 4-0 vote, took effect upon adoption at the meeting on July 27, and with two exceptions it stops the issuance of all new STR permits within the transient occupancy tax boundaries in eastern Placer County for an initial 45-day period. Exceptions to the moratorium are renewal applications for existing permits with no outstanding fees or violations and new applications submitted at least 24 hours prior to the approval of the ordinance.
So far this year, Placer has already approved annual permits for 2,382 properties in eastern Placer County to operate as STRs. Currently, permitted short-term rentals account for about 15% of the total 15,747 housing units in eastern Placer County.
A number of community members spoke during public comment, straddling both sides of the issue. John Falk, legislative advocate for the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors, expressed the board’s opposition to the moratorium, citing a failure to adequately address the region’s housing crisis.
“It really puts an unnecessary temporary placeholder in an issue that is not the principal driver of the housing crisis being faced by our region,” Falk said during public comment. “I don’t think anyone would disagree that we have a lack of affordable and available housing both for sale and for rent for our workforce. The question is, how do you address it? When you look at STRs as the thing to regulate, it seems the low-hanging fruit in so many jurisdictions, but it has little to no impact on the overall housing stock.”
Kings Beach resident Sean O’Brien, meanwhile, spoke alongside others in support of the moratorium and shared his experience living next to a two-bedroom STR where a lacrosse team recently stayed in 12 tents on the front lawn because of expensive hotel pricing.
“This community is being ripped apart by hotels in our neighborhoods,” O’Brien said. “… Short-term rentals are the problem, they are the number one problem in what’s happening in this community right now … This Basin is outgrowing itself.”
Wildfire Smoke Exposure Linked to Increased Risk of Contracting Covid-19
Wildfire smoke may greatly increase susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, according to new research from the Center for Genomic Medicine at Nevada’s Desert Research Institute, Washoe County Health District, and Renown Health.
In a study published in mid-July in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, the DRI-led research team set out to examine whether smoke from 2020 wildfires in the Western U.S. was associated with an increase in Covid-19 infections in Reno, using models to analyze the relationship between fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) from wildfire smoke and Covid-19 test positivity rate data from Renown Health. According to their results, PM 2.5 from wildfire smoke was responsible for a 17.7% increase in the number of Covid-19 cases that occurred during a period of prolonged smoke that took place between Aug. 16 and Oct. 10, 2020.
Reno was exposed to higher concentrations of PM 2.5 for longer periods of time in 2020 than other nearby metropolitan areas, including San Francisco. Reno experienced 43 days of elevated PM 2.5 during the study period, as opposed to 26 days in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The full text of the study is available at nature.com/articles/s41370-021-00366-w.
~ DRI press release
Sierra Nevada University Joins UNR ‘Family’
The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents approved a memorandum of agreement between Sierra Nevada University and the University of Nevada, Reno that would add SNU to the UNR family. If the agreement is finalized, SNU Incline Village campus would become part of UNR, and SNU programs and operations would be merged with those of UNR. SNU students will continue studies on campus for the 2021/22 academic year and will experience little change. SNU faculty will deliver 2021/22 academic year courses as scheduled, and athletic and extracurricular programs will continue unchanged.
Former SNU president Rob Valli also finished his appointment on July 30. From July 31 until the approval of the proposed change by the NWCCU and DOE, the SNU board of trustees will retain its governance role, and operations will be managed by an executive transition office jointly led by Sue Johnson, SNU vice president of finance and administration, and another executive to be named shortly.
~ SNU press releases
Park Project Breaks Ground
The Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe Community Project (CATT CP) celebrated the groundbreaking of the Truckee Downtown Park Project at the Church Street Community Arts Center on July 14. It’s the final phase of exterior revitalization of the property, owned by the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District. Recent work includes a new roof, ADA entrance, parking lot upgrades, and exterior paint. Next steps will be an exterior play area, picnic zone, and 80-seat amphitheater.
The project has an approximate budget of $700,000; CATT CP has facilitated $385,000 in community contributions and grants. CATT members have added $300,000 of in-kind professional donations, materials, and labor.
The downtown revitalization effort “ties together our public spaces from the new railyards projects to Brickletown,” said Truckee Mayor Anna Klovstad. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. Individuals can purchase custom engraved pavers through July 31 at DowntownTruckeePark.com or call (530) 550-9999 for naming opportunities.
~ CATT press release
Community Reels From Tragic Plane Crash
Editors’ Note: The Ink’s editorial board and whole staff want to express our heartbreak at the tragic loss of life that occurred during the airplane crash on July 26. Our thoughts are with all who died, are grieving unexpected losses, and have been traumatized by the tragic incident.
On Monday afternoon on July 26, a Challenger 605 Twin Engine Jet crashed on approach to the Truckee Tahoe Airport (KTRK) Runway 11 enroute from Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. All six of those on board were killed. No one on the ground was physically injured. CalFire was on the scene within minutes to extinguish the resulting fire. The National Transportation Safety Board is now conducting an official investigation into the incident.
At press time, the Nevada County’s sherriff-coroner’s office was engaged in investigating and determining the identities of victims on the aircraft. The office was working directly with the families believed to have lost loved ones on the aircraft to help them through this difficult period, according to a Tahoe Truckee Airport District press release, which stated that victims’ names will be released “as soon as there is positive identification and next of kin contact has been made.”
To help the community grieve and heal, Nevada County Crisis Response Health Professionals will provide assistance related to the incident, with services including in-person meetings where mental health professionals and those affected can discuss the event, as well as resources for those who may need additional assistance. Three meetings will be held at the Hampton Inn and Suites, Sierra Room, at 11951 State Hwy 267 in Truckee. Two meetings are being held for adults: Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. and Aug. 3 at 4:30 p.m. A child-specific meeting will take place on Aug. 3, at 3 p.m. All affected are welcome and encouraged to attend. If you need additional information, please contact (530) 587-4119 x 107 or email info@TruckeeTahoeAirport.com.
The NTSB is the federal agency in charge of the investigation. At press time, the agency’s preliminary report was expected to be published on ntsb.gov within the week.
~ TTAD press release
Air Show Canceled
On July 28, the Truckee Tahoe Airport District Board reached a consensus to cancel the 2021 Air Show & Family Festival (planned to occur on Sept. 11) due to the recent plane crash that occurred in Truckee on July 26. A special board meeting date will be set to put this item on the Airport District Board Meeting agenda for official action to be taken.
~ TTAD email
County Aims to End Veteran Homelessness by Veteran’s Day
Nevada County announced its participation in Built for Zero, a national initiative of over 80 communities working to measurably end homelessness. Being added to the “last mile” cohort indicates that the community is close to ending veteran homelessness, a milestone known as functional zero, achieved when a community has fewer veterans experiencing homelessness than can be routinely housed. The coalition’s strategy involves collaboration and services coordination as well as improving data on vulnerable county residents experiencing homelessness.
Nevada County agencies represented include Hospitality House, AMI Housing, Volunteers of America, Federal Veteran Administration Partners, and Connecting Point 2-1-1. They hope to reach this milestone by Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11). Current data demonstrates that there are 28 known veterans who are experiencing homelessness.
If you are a landlord or are aware of housing units currently or potentially available for veterans in Nevada County, contact AMI Housing: (530) 887-5088.
Anyone who knows of a homeless veteran, is a homeless veteran, or needs information on available services can contact David West, Nevada County veterans services officer, at (530) 265-1446 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Nevada County press release
Boat Ramp at Sand Harbor Closed for 2021 Season
Due to low water conditions, the Sand Harbor boat ramp closed for the season on July 18. This closure prevents boats from being damaged during launching and will also protect the end of launch lanes from harm.
The parking lot will remain open for non-motorized, carry-in boat access. Power boaters should use other launch ramps at Lake Tahoe. Visit tahoeboatinspections.com, or call the park at (775) 831-0494, for further information.
~ Nevada State Parks press release
39,000 Miles Peddled
During June, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition teamed up to lead the 16th annual Tahoe Bike Challenge. Over 300 Tahoe residents and visitors took the challenge and biked 38,955 miles, a distance equivalent to traveling from Tahoe to San Francisco and back 100 times.
The Basin-wide challenge is a friendly competition that encourages individuals and teams to track trips and miles on their bikes. The Tahoe Bike Challenge website, lovetoride.net/tahoe, helped participants log their trips and miles during the month-long competition. Winners received prizes donated from local businesses. Check out the team and individual results at lovetoride.net/tahoe/event_results.
~ LTBC press release
Liberty Utilities Announces Shutoffs for Wildfire Mitigation and Public Safety
To mitigate the risk of wildfires in the communities Liberty Utilities serves, the company is implementing temporary public safety power shutoffs when weather conditions present an increased risk.
Liberty utilizes weather stations throughout the local service area and collaborates with the National Weather Service in Reno and local fire officials to monitor the local weather conditions and evaluate when a temporary power shutoff is required to limit wildfire risk.
Contributing factors include red flag warnings, dry fuel conditions, forecast sustained winds and gusts, low humidity levels, and 24/7 monitoring.
In the event that a power shutoff is a possibility, Liberty will attempt to contact customers through calls, texts, and emails, using contact information on file. Call (800) 782-2506 to update your account’s contact information. To review the power shutoff toolkit for helpful tips, and resources, visit bit.ly/3rAPd1M.
~ Liberty Utilities website
Community Foundation Announces $300,000 in Grants for Nonprofits
The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation’s community grant cycle opened Aug. 2, and will close at 5 p.m. on Sept. 3. Open Competitive, Queen of Hearts, and Nature Funds are contributing to an approximate $300,000 that TTCF will be awarding winning applicants. Grant guidelines are available on TTCF’s website; apply for grants at grantinterface.com/Home/Logon?urlkey=ttcf.
~ TTCF press release
Soroptimist Club Awards $9,250 in Scholarships to Local Women
Recipients of the local branch of the international women empowerment organization, Soroptimist International Tahoe Donner, awarded scholarships to Amelia Swanson and Sarah Bryan from Truckee High School who will be attending UC Davis and the University of Oregon, respectively, and Emily Hackley and Daisy Reyes from Sierra High School, attending Mesa Community College in Arizona and Sierra College. Marlene Mendez, Alexia Haines, and Kate Traeger are all receiving scholarships for continuing education, with Mendez pursuing her full X-ray technician license, Haines attending the registered nursing program at Carrington College in Reno, and Traeger continuing her coursework in business management at the University of Nevada in Reno.
~ SITD press release
Delta Variant Looms
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was reporting at press time that the delta variant of the coronavirus then accounted for 93% of new Covid-19 cases in the U.S., and the Tahoe/Truckee region has been no exception. All four of Moonshine’s coverage counties — Placer, Nevada, and El Dorado in California and Washoe in Nevada — have experienced an uptick in new Covid-19 cases, with numbers not seen since the fall/winter outbreak. In the first few days of August alone, Placer County’s new case count exceeded 100 for the first time in a few months; Nevada County had its third-highest day for new cases since the start of the pandemic, with 140 confirmed Covid-19 cases; and Washoe County’s seven-day average for new cases had climbed to 120. Learn more about the history of the spread in our region on our website at moonshineink.com/tahoe-news/coronaupdates.
Tahoe Donner Plans to Replace Downhill Lodge
Plans to replace the Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort, built in 1971 and at “the end of its useful life,” according to the homeowners association, are progressing, though the size of the building has not yet been determined. Preliminary cost of the new ski lodge is in the range of $20 million to $23 million.
“A funding plan includes a proposed $111 increase to … the the 2022 annual assessment per property,” explained Lindsay Hogan, director of communications and member relations with Tahoe Donner, in an email. “That plan needs to be approved by the board each year, but if approved each year, would also include another 25% increase on the development fund portion of the annual assessment in 2023 and 2024.”
Some members of the association have expressed concern over the project’s expense. From a survey sent out to members through Tahoe Donner Member Voices (an informal coalition of members), the 1,219 responses showed a majority seeking direct member input on the price of the would-be ski lodge replacement.
“We are very early in the design phase still,” Hogan said. “If this were a baseball game, they’d say we are in the top of the third inning with almost all decisions yet to be made.”