Editor’s Note: As news shifts rapidly in light of COVID-19 regulations and changes on all levels of government, find our Tahoe/Truckee coronavirus updates online at moonshineink.com/tahoe-news/coronaupdates.
Shift in Laulima Redevelopment Focus
The Placer County board of supervisors has continued the Kings Beach Lakeside Redevelopment Residential Project (known as Laulima) as an off-calendar item, meaning county staff and the Laulima development team will maintain weekly planning meetings for the foreseeable future. The project was originally pitched as a residential-commercial development, and was denied by the Placer planning commission in late May due to a lack of mixed-use options and community frustration.
Now, developer David Bouquillon, owner of the property, is refocusing on a hotel project for the site. Requirements for such a proposal would be a three-story building and a room count around 90. It would lead to Brockway Vista Drive having to be abandoned (though adjacent residential access would remain). This option is something community members are more amenable to, especially it being a project that promotes economic growth within the Kings Beach community.
“I remain concerned that [the developer] will fall back at some point of time to their former residential project, citing monetary concerns and frustration with the amount of red tape and regulations,” said Megan Chillemi, a Kings Beach resident occupying seat one on the North Tahoe Regional Advisory Council. “On the other hand, think what a hotel would do for Kings Beach … it would be a renaissance for our restaurants and markets, and provide local jobs for the community.”
Restaurants and retail options are proposed to be included with the hotel option.
Winter Parking Lot Secured for Historic Backcountry Ski Descent
In collaboration with the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District, Truckee Donner Land Trust, and the Donner Lake Woods Homeowners Association, the Tahoe Backcountry Alliance has announced a signed agreement allowing winter parking at the Donner Lake West End Beach parking lot.
TBA is funding the repaving of the 20 spaces and the annual snow clearing of the site. West End Snow Clearing is contracted to do the snow removal and has generously offered a discounted rate for this winter season. The lease agreement is for five years with possible renewal on the fifth and 10th year. In addition, the homeowners association leased a portion of its open space parcel to the land trust to facilitate a full public lands descent from Donner Summit to the winter parking location.
~ TBA press release
Hospital Receives Level 4 Trauma Designation; TFHS Wins 2020 Award
Tahoe Forest Hospital has been awarded the Level 4 Trauma Center designation by the Sierra-Sacramento Valley EMS Agency. Level 4 is the highest standard of care for trauma patients recognized by the American College of Surgeons. The ACS is a trauma verifying agency that provides guidelines as an advisement to improve trauma care.
The different levels designated to trauma centers refer to the kinds of resources available and the number of patients that are admitted yearly. As a Level 4 Trauma Center, TFH is capable of providing 24-hour physician coverage and advanced trauma life support, including resuscitation and stabilization, to injured patients before they are transferred to a higher level facility. TFH has incorporated an ongoing performance improvement program that reviews care of 100% of trauma patients seen from pre-hospital until discharge. A large number of trauma patients is cared for in the TFH emergency department yearly.
Additionally, the Tahoe Forest Health System overall has been named a 2020 Guardian of Excellence Award winner by Press Ganey. This nationally-recognized symbol of achievement in health care is awarded to top-performing healthcare organizations that have attained the 95th percentile or above of performance in patient experience.
~ TFHS press releases
Acquisition of Property as Part of ‘Project Homekey’
Placer County completed its purchase of the 7 Pines Motel in Kings Beach, a 14-unit building that will be converted into permanent supportive housing to aid those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the North Tahoe region.
The $1.45 million acquisition was funded through a variety of grant programs including Homekey, the state’s $600 million program to purchase and rehabilitate housing (including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings, and other properties) and convert them into permanent, long-term housing for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness.
The former motel will be owned and managed by AMI Housing, a local nonprofit group that has deep experience working on permanent supportive housing projects for homeless clientele in the region. Homeless people with the most vulnerability will receive priority screening and placement, and will pay a fixed percentage of their income toward rent. Placements will be filled using the waitlist from the homeless resource helpline, a telephone hotline that helps assess homeless callers’ levels of need and connects them with housing and other resources. There will be a property manager and case management to support residents on-site. Other FAQs about permanent supportive housing projects in Placer County can be found at placer.ca.gov/PSHfaq.
The 7 Pines property is conveniently located next to social services and within walking distance for shopping, food, and public transportation.
~ Placer County press release
New Water Rates Effective 2021
At the Dec. 2 Truckee Donner Public Utility District board meeting, the directors unanimously approved a rate increase for district ratepayers beginning the first billing cycle after Jan. 1, 2021. The decision was made at the end of a public hearing, 75 emails protesting the increase had been submitted by that point.
Residential, commercial, and pump zone rates will increase gradually from 2021 through 2025 based on size of meter and consumption. The average residential customer would start at the current rate of $73.56 and see an increase of about $7 per year, reaching $109.75 by fiscal year 2025. Commercial residents with a one-inch meter charge, for example, would start at the current $83.09 and rise to $122.89 come FY 2025.
The increased rates will provide the district funding to operate, maintain, repair, and improve the local water system. The rates presented are the maximum authorized rates. The board will review the rates for possible adjustment annually, though they cannot charge ratepayers more than the maximum.
Keep Squaw True Has New Name: Tahoe Truckee True
In August 2020, Alterra Mountain Company’s Ron Cohen announced that the resort will change the name of Squaw Valley ski resort sometime in the following year.
Sierra Watch publicly supports a new name for the ski resort as long as it respects the area’s shared mountain values and keeps the focus on the great outdoors. “In other words,” the organization’s recent newsletter stated, “Alterra’s rebranding effort should honor the shared Sierra, not just market its own reckless development proposals.”
Sierra Watch is taking this time as an opportunity to remind people what’s at stake – the entire Tahoe/Truckee region and the “irreplaceable mountain values” it represents to the organization.
“It is with respect for those that came before us, and with a commitment to our future and the generations to come at heart, that Sierra Watch announces the new name of its ongoing work to ‘keep Squaw true’ as Tahoe Truckee True,” the statement continues.
~ Sierra Watch e-newsletter
Airport Grant to Downtown Park Project
The Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe has announced that its sister nonprofit CATT Community Project has received approval of an agency partnership grant in the amount of $125,000 from the Truckee Tahoe Airport District to help fund the Downtown Truckee Park project.
Mark Tanner Construction is driving the revitalization project in collaboration with CATT CP and a number of other local companies and organizations including the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District.
The Buy A Brick campaign kicked off Dec. 1. Individuals, families, and businesses can join in the movement by purchasing a personalized, permanently engraved paver brick for $300 each. To obtain a commemorative brick, log on to downtowntruckeepark.com.
The ADA-accessible park will include an outdoor amphitheater, sensory garden, picnic area, benches, and natural boulders that will creatively function as play structures, and will serve as a welcome respite spot for people of all ages.
~ CATT CP, Mark Tanner Construction press release
Endowment to Support Funding for Annual Trail Work in the Region
Tahoe Fund has launched a new effort to create a $3 million endowment to generate enough funding to pay for annual trail work in the Tahoe region. The campaign that started with a $100,000 contribution from trail enthusiasts Chris and Viktoria McNamara represents a long-term commitment to caring for the trails everyone loves.
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased the strain on Tahoe’s trail system as people began spending more time outdoors. Despite ‘stay-at-home’ orders, use of Tahoe’s trails exploded, with one trail counter at DL Bliss State Park recording higher usage in April 2020 than in July 2019. Since then, things have not slowed down.
To help grow the endowment, an anonymous donor has offered to match every dollar donated up to $100,000. Learn more and contribute to the Tahoe Trails Endowment at tahoefund.org.
~ Tahoe Fund press release
Public Utility District Seeks Community Input
The Truckee Donner Public Utility District is engaging its community members through neighborhood virtual focus groups. The goal of these conversations, beginning in January 2021, is for the TDPUD to understand how it can improve the quality of life and economic growth in the region it covers. Focus groups will be held on the following days for the listed neighborhoods:
- Jan. 7, 5 p.m.: Donner Lake, Armstrong, and Tahoe Donner
(Y el 12 de enero a las 5 p.m. para la comunidad española)
- Jan. 13, 12 p.m.: Prosser Heights, Gray’s Crossing, Pioneer/Industrial, and Historic Downtown
- Jan. 13, 5 p.m.: Gateway, West River Street, and Sierra Meadows
- Jan. 14, 12 p.m.: Open meeting for those that are unable to attend their neighborhood focus group
- Jan. 14, 5 p.m.: Glenshire/Devonshire, Old Greenwood, Olympic Heights, and Martis Valley
Visit tdpud.org/ourfuture. Click register and find your piece to the puzzle.
~ TDPUD website
Helping Our Hardest-Hit Neighbors
The nonprofit Truckee Community Christmas is once again helping locals in need this holiday season, and is seeking individuals to volunteer or donate through mid-December.
Coat drive: Caring community members can get involved by donating warm, clean, gently used winter coats, or purchasing them new for people of all ages. Coats are accepted at Church of the Mountains in downtown Truckee and at Tahoe Forest Church on Hirschdale Road.
Food drive: This year, instead of the traditional food drive, TCC is asking for financial donations rather than collecting and distributing donated food items. Program recipients will receive local grocery store gift cards from the funds raised.
Toy drive: Toy donations will be accepted at locations all around town through mid-December. A complete list of drop-off locations is posted on the TCC website: truckeecommunitychristmas.com.
Sorting and packing for the toy drive will take place at the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District recreation center on Truckee Way on Dec. 17 and 18. For those interested in volunteering, contact email@example.com.
In lieu of shopping for groceries to contribute this year, please consider donating online instead.
~ TCC press release
Science Institute Celebrates Anniversary
The Tahoe Institute for Natural Science is celebrating 10 years of connecting people to nature and inspiring new generations of stewards for the wonders of Lake Tahoe. Since 2010, the organization has engaged with over 56,000 students through in-school natural history programs, field trips, and nature camps. They offer programs for people of all ages — hosting hundreds of presentations and guided nature outings for thousands of participants. All of the programs are supported by a foundation of important, ongoing biological research. In fact, TINS researchers have banded over 6,500 birds as part of local, regional, and world-wide migration studies.
TINS has launched a new website to mark the anniversary at tinsweb.org, and the organization continues to deliver relevant and timely nature science programs despite the challenges of the current pandemic.
~ TINS press release
Cap on Vacation Home Rentals
EL DORADO COUNTY
During a Nov. 17 meeting, El Dorado County’s board of supervisors approved an amendment to their Vacation Home Rentals ordinance, which puts a finite cap on the number of allowable VHRs in the county. As of the change, 900 total VHRs are now allowed in El Dorado County, with an estimated 720 properties currently used as VHRs in the Basin within the county.
Community Garden Plots Aim to Address Food Insecurity
Next to the Food Bank Garden at the Truckee Regional Park will be a new project offering garden plots to community members to alleviate food insecurity, and will offer up garden plots for rent to local community members.
The community garden is projected to cost $30,000. The collaborating groups are “recruiting volunteers who are interested in lending their expertise to be part of a steering committee to help with fundraising and marketing/advertising this coming winter season, as well as building the space next spring,” state a press release from Slow Food News. The group’s first meeting is scheduled for January 2021.
~ Slow Food News press release
Tahoe XC Announces Winter Plans and Accomplishments
The nonprofit cross-country ski area announced they filled every time slot at the Nordic & Backcountry Ski Swap and raised over $6,000 for their youth programs; many customers have purchased season passes early and are practicing patience as we navigate the ever-changing terrain of 2020/21; and they had many volunteers for the ski swap and trail work day.
“Tahoe XC is also officially the Top 10 Best Nordic Ski Area in North America,” the organization said in a statement. “Thanks to you! First, we were nominated for this award by an expert panel who carefully selected nominees. Then you, the public, voted for us as the Top 10 BEST Nordic ski area in the nation. We are so grateful for you!”
~ Tahoe XC press release