Lawsuit Filed Against AT&T for Cables
In January, a lawsuit was filed against AT&T to remove two abandoned telecommunications cables from Lake Tahoe. Kirk Boyd, a Tahoe City-based attorney, said he and three other lawyers filed the suit to compel the company to remove the cables, which date back to 1929 and are deteriorating. The cables, which seem to be leaking lead, sit in Emerald Bay and run along the West Shore; the longest is 7 miles.
“Our impression is that AT&T is going to take responsibility for this and do the right thing, and move forward to resolve this problem,” Boyd said. “We would rather work together as a community than fight in the courts.”
For AT&T’s part, it disputes the suit. “We are committed to the environmental well-being of Lake Tahoe as well as ensuring connectivity for residents and visitors,” spokesperson Jim Kimberly said. “We disagree with the allegations in this lawsuit and hope to resolve it soon.”
According to research by Boyd, the estimated cost to remove the 7-mile cable is roughly $300,000, but salvageable copper may help defray expenses.
Boyd said when an article first ran in Moonshine Ink in Nov. 2020 about the abandoned cables, that residents of the West Shore were “shocked” and began writing letters to AT&T to advocate cable removal. While there is a third abandoned cable owned by California Pacific Electric Company, the lawsuit is only directed at AT&T. However, Boyd said they are “still pursuing removal of all the cables from the lake.”
~ Kara Fox, Moonshine Ink
Construction Bid Now Open for Spooner Lake State Park Improvements
Nevada State Parks is seeking bids for phase one of the Spooner Frontcountry Improvement Project, which will involve a complete redesign and update of the facilities that are over 35 years old, and some new construction at Spooner Lake. Proposals will be accepted at the Nevada Division of State Parks office until March 11 at 2 p.m.
This phase follows a successful fundraising campaign completed last year by the Tahoe Fund that generated more than $300,000 in contributions from private donors, which helped to unlock $2.9 million in public funding for the project.
Spooner Lake welcomes more than 150,000 visitors every year. The new facilities will offer visitors high quality interpretive programming and environmental education, and will serve as a base for natural and cultural history programs, ranger-led hikes and tours, and an outdoor
science venue for students. The addition of the amphitheater will also expand ecology and outdoor education programs, with a number of science and nature-based field trip opportunities for local elementary and middle schoolers.
The project will include the removal of the existing restroom, site preparation, utility installation, construction of a visitor center and amphitheater, pathways and site amenities, landscaping and irrigation, entrance road realignment and paving, vault toilet installation, and any other specified work as outlined in the project specifications.
For detailed project and bid information, visit parks.nv.gov/about/public-notices.
~ Tahoe Fund press release
Roof Avalanche, Successful Rescue
On Jan. 27, a 14-year-old male was playing in a snow cave next to his home in the Serene Lakes area when snow slid off the roof and completely buried him. Nobody witnessed the incident, but when he didn’t come inside after a few hours, family members looked for him, couldn’t find him, and called 911. The experienced first responders from Truckee Fire Protection District immediately suspected a roof avalanche and began probing the debris at the bottom of the roof. They got a hit with the probe, quickly started digging, and recovered the boy alive about 5 feet under the snow.
TFPD provides numerous tips for winter preparation, including avoiding areas where snow might fall off a roof, not sledding into the street, and driving slowly during dangerous conditions.
~ TFPD news alert
The Generator Finds a Home
The Generator, a nonprofit community art maker space in Reno, is a well-loved installation of the Burning Man art build family, and it almost lost footing due to a series of bidding losses when its lease was up in 2019. Yet with a meeting of the minds between art and urban design, a key local collaboration saved the space. Currently, the creative work area exists but isn’t public, and in the process of being moved to 2450 Oddie Blvd., expected to be open late summer or early fall in 2021.
Called “The Oddie District,” the project is part of a plan by Foothill Partners, a real estate development firm with cultural relevance as a prominent factor in project choice and planning, founded by Douglas Wiele in 1994, who said the collaboration has made a lasting positive impact on his own company, and was sparked at 2019’s Burning Man itself.
Foothill frequently develops projects involving large grocery stores, and, Wiele told Moonshine Ink, “it slowly dawned on me that this sounds like every grocery store deal that I’ve made since 1980, that the grocery stores know that I need them more than they need me … because they drive traffic and they are a big brand.” He took on the project, searching for cheap big box property in Reno and building other stakeholders in a project through the ‘brand’ of The Generator and its connection and association with the iconic music and arts festival.
“Like we have been doing elsewhere, a significant component of the project is committed to arts and culture to the point where we brought in an arts and culture director for the project who is now a partner,” Wiele said. “And we will have an arts and culture director on all of our projects. The basic notion is that if we are not culturally relevant to the community, they’re just going to hop online.”
Find out more about The Generator and plans for The Oddie District as a whole on therenogenerator.com.
Initiative Launched to Support Development, Construction for New Library
The Friends of the Truckee Library (the Friends) has launched the LibraryUP Luminaries Campaign, a fundraising initiative to engage passionate library supporters who want to help seed-fund pre-development activities, and dramatically demonstrate the community’s commitment to, and investment in, seeing a new facility built. To date, nearly 70 community members and families have proven their dedication by becoming Luminaries. Those interested in joining can participate through a $1,000 donation, or ten payments of $100, and will be honored through a unique art installation at the new space.
The Luminaries campaign will support the development of a facility that is free and open to all, and large enough that anyone who needs a space to study, gather, or collaborate is welcome.
In partnership with Nevada County and the Town of Truckee, the Friends are currently supporting the effort led by LDA Partners to develop renderings and cost estimates for the new space. After months of surveys and community input, they will be ready for community viewing in early 2021.
~ Friends of the Truckee Library press release
Effort to Get Underserved Youth Outdoors
The Tahoe Fund announced its support of SOS Outreach with a $30,000 program grant to expand its impact in North and South Lake Tahoe. SOS Outreach is a nonprofit that provides opportunities for underserved youth to experience the outdoors while participating in a mentorship program that is designed to prepare them for life’s challenges. Every winter, kids who would not normally have the opportunity enjoy five ride days at Northstar or Heavenly with their mentors. Off the slopes, they engage in social service projects that help improve their local community.
In North and South Lake Tahoe, more than 250 kids learn to ski and snowboard, leadership skills, and the importance of protecting the environment through service projects each year. In the summer months they learn to fly fish, river raft, and mountain bike.
Over the past 10 years, SOS programs have led to more kids graduating from high school, attending college, finding careers, and giving back to their communities, with 96% of SOS youth planning to attend college and 61% returning to mentor peers.
~ Tahoe Fund press release
County Continues to Address Trash Issues
NORTH LAKE TAHOE
Responding to recent health and safety concerns with trash in the North Lake Tahoe region, the Placer County board of supervisors adopted on Jan. 26 an ordinance amendment increasing trash service requirements in eastern Placer County. The amendment goes into effect April 1, with exemption requests accepted from Feb. 15 to
“For a number of years, we have seen a growing problem of household trash being placed in public trash cans and commercial bins in eastern Placer County, which has been exacerbated this year with COVID-19,” said District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson. “This is one part of a comprehensive plan by the county to address trash issues, which also includes increased garbage pickup at public sites, requiring vacation home rentals to prove service and additional education. Just across the county line, the Town of Truckee does not allow trash exemptions. This amendment seeks to address the community need, while still allowing flexibility for eligible residents.”
Previously, residential and commercial property owners were eligible for an exemption from trash service if their property would not be occupied for a month or longer.
The proposed ordinance amendment would still allow exemptions from mandatory trash service if the home or business is unoccupied for an entire quarter. The exemption timelines span from January to March, April to June, July to September, and October to December. In such a case, an exemption form certifying the property will not be occupied is required before each quarter, starting April 1, with forms due by March 15. If a residence or business is found occupied, service would start immediately and the owner would be billed for the entire quarter.
~ Placer County press release
New Incentives Approved for ADU Program
On Jan. 26, Truckee’s town council unanimously approved an accessory dwelling incentive package aimed at accelerating both the production of new ADUs as well as bringing unpermitted units into compliance. ADUs, also known as granny flats or backyard cottages, are gaining traction at both the state and local level as a promising way to address housing needs within existing neighborhoods.
Recently, the town amended the rules and standards for ADUs to make it easier for homeowners to understand land use requirements. Additionally, the town set up an ADU web-based resource page and established a team to provide customers with a high level of technical assistance as they navigate the process of building new units as well as obtaining permits for existing, unpermitted units.
The new ADU incentive package will include a menu of funding tools to help homeowners with some of the costs of permitting and building. The grants and loans will be available for both those building new units (open for the next four years) as well as those with existing unpermitted units (accessible for a two-year timeframe).
The incentive package will be available this spring. To learn more and sign up to be notified when the grants and loans would be available, visit townoftruckee.com/government/housing.
~ Truckee press release
Nevada Agencies Partner to Expand “Our Place Homeless Project”
The Nevada Division of State Lands and Nevada Department of Health and Human Services are pleased to announce a new partnership between the State of Nevada and Washoe County to expand housing and social services for homeless and at-risk vulnerable populations through the Our Place Homeless Project, located within the state agency campus in Sparks.
Through this collaborative partnership, the NDSL is leasing 21 acres of property on the Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services campus to Washoe County to significantly expand Our Place’s programs and services, including the following:
- Mental health and substance abuse program
- Homeless shelter for women and families
- Prevention of foster care placements and preservation of families
- Reduction of jail admission and emergency room visits
- Employment and educational opportunities
Homeless women, children, and families that are currently residing at the Community Assistance Center in downtown Reno will move to the new Our Place campus when it opens in spring 2021. The new campus will provide more space for social and recreational opportunities for children and adults by creating two campuses. The Our Place Homeless Project will enhance the CrossRoads program and provide additional care management services for homeless women, children, and families. The separation of the populations will provide a child-friendly space, which is required to support a learning environment as well as allow families to remain together.
~ NDSL, NDHHS press release
Martis Valley Trail Project Gains Momentum
The Martis Valley Trail project in North Lake Tahoe reached significant funding and multi-agency environmental review milestones last month as part of a trail system envisioned for the region. The 10.2-mile paved pathway will connect the Town of Truckee through Martis Valley and Northstar Village and up to Brockway Summit.
The project is a collaborative effort with the Northstar Community Service District. The Resort at Northstar has also provided needed trail easements.
When complete, this will ultimately become part of the Resort Triangle Trail, which will connect the communities of Kings Beach, Tahoe City, Olympic Valley, Truckee, Martis Valley, and Northstar in one great big loop trail.
The anticipated cost of the trail from the Martis Creek Lake Recreation Area to Northstar Drive is $8 million. In addition to local sources, the project will be funded by federal and state grant programs. Construction on the trail segments that will complete the connection between the Town of Truckee and Northstar Drive is slated to begin later this year.
~ Placer County press release
Interim GM Contract Approved at TDPUD
On Jan. 6, the Truckee Donner Public Utility District board approved the employment agreement of Brian Wright, water utility director, as interim general manager. Wright’s six-month term began Nov. 18, 2020 and will end May 21. He’ll receive a base salary of $250,000 per year, and is entitled to other benefits based on the PUD’s current policies.
All board directors approved the contract except for Kim Harris. In December meetings, Harris had questioned Wright’s appointment and suggested offering the interim position to other staff members.
In a statement shared with Moonshine Ink Harris said, “At my first board meeting, when the ad hoc committee was being discussed, I asked about a job description that lists the duties and qualifications of the interim general manager position and did not receive a clear answer from the board or staff. I was reminded by the board president twice that the position has been unanimously appointed in closed session. In my view, it was a quick decision that happened without any input from the community or employees that I have heard of.
“A quarter of a million dollars in annual salary is a large amount of public funds to be considered and I did not feel that the information provided to me was sufficient to approve such a generous contract.”
Free Wildfire Retrofit Guide
Months in the making, Tahoe Living With Fire, along with many other authors and contributors, has produced the Wildfire Home Retrofit Guide, which includes detailed recommendations for retrofitting homes to better withstand wildfire.
Each section contains an explanation on how every home component is vulnerable to wildfire and what can be done to improve that component. Check out the guide for free at bit.ly/WildfireHomeGuide to learn about hardening your home against wildfire.
~ Tahoe Living With Fire social media