Editor’s Note, March 29 at 10:24 a.m.: We originally included that the Martis Fund is matching donations made as part of the effort to purchase Truckee Springs. Rather, it’s the Martis Camp Foundation. The brief has been updated.

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.

EPA Removes Sunken Vessel From Tahoe

SAN FRANCISCO

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On Feb. 23, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency raised a vessel first reported sunk in Lake Tahoe on Jan. 15. The EPA took this action in coordination with the El Dorado County Sheriff, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Office of Spill Prevention and Response. Efforts to raise the vessel followed a Feb. 15 report indicating it had begun leaking oil. It cost the EPA $20,000 to remove the vessel and associated debris from the lake. The work was sourced locally through High Sierra Marine.

The vessel in question is believed to be an abandoned 40-foot recreational boat, which sank approximately 300 yards offshore from Pope Beach Road in South Lake Tahoe. Repeated efforts by multiple agencies to identify and contact the owner have been unsuccessful.

~ EPA press release

Initiation of Affordable Housing Task Force

AUBURN

The Placer County Housing Development Advisory Taskforce has been approved to help identify and move forward affordable housing projects in the county. The panel will consist of nine community members with expertise in housing development who understand the unique housing needs of the region.

The creation of the task force follows the establishment of Housing Trust Placer, a private trust to assist in identifying and securing gap funding for affordable housing projects.

The group will consist of professionals such as builders experienced in infill development, community foundations, residential/commercial brokers, banking and/or mortgage lenders, land use/housing attorneys, housing advocates, and student housing stakeholders. Applications will be reviewed by the Placer County board of supervisors and Community Development Resource Agency staff members.

The task force will meet quarterly at a minimum and will act as an advisory group to the board of supervisors. Applications for these volunteer positions opened in mid-February for 30 days. Members will be appointed by Placer County’s board in April 2021.

~ Placer County press release

Incline Village Property Tax Settlement to be Paid by All Tax-Collecting Entities

RENO

In August 2020, Washoe County commissioners agreed to pay a $56 million settlement to Incline Village residents following years of litigation and a court opinion ordering repayment of overpaid taxes. In a Feb. 24 meeting, commissioners unanimously decided that all entities that benefited from the overpayment of property taxes, including the Incline Village General Improvement District, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, the State of Nevada, and the Washoe County School District, will pay their respective share of overpaid taxes and interest. The county will withhold subsequent apportionments of property tax revenue and interest from those other tax-collecting entities in the amounts outlined below.

Estimated Allocation of Taxpayer Refunds 

Tax-Collecting Entity Refunds Interest Total 
Washoe County $12,200,000$11,500,00023,700,000
Washoe County School District 10,000,0009,400,00019,400,000
North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District 4,500,0004,200,0008,700,000
State of Nevada 1,500,0001,400,0002,900,000
Incline Village General Improvement District 700,000600,0001,300,000
Totals $28,900,000 $27,100,000 $56,000,000 

~ Washoe County press release

Potential Wildfire Protection Tax Measure

TRUCKEE

In 2016, the Truckee Fire Protection District collaborated with the community to develop the first Truckee area Community Wildfire Protection Plan. It identified mitigation measures including areas in need of fire fuel reduction work located in the wildland-urban interface (near homes and businesses), and is slated to be updated in 2022. While the district has completed some of the priority projects identified in the CWPP through grant funding, the full scope of needs cannot be addressed without an additional funding source.

As wildfires continue to become larger, faster, and more destructive, additional resources are needed to clear dry brush, remove fire hazards, and better protect against wildfire emergencies, according to the district. Emergency evacuation routes and procedures also need to be improved and firebreaks need to be added and maintained to prevent or slow the spread of wildfire where needed. The Truckee Fire Protection District board is currently exploring funding options to address these needs, including a potential wildfire protection parcel tax measure. A measure would provide a stable, dedicated source of local funding for wildfire prevention and mitigation.

More information on a potential measure can be found at truckeefire.org/wildfireprotectionmeasure. The CWPP is at tinyurl.com/TruckeeCWPP.

~ Chief Bill Seline email

Land Trust Nears Closing Date to Purchase Truckee Springs

TRUCKEE

The hope to create a riverfront park at the 26.33-acre swath of land just south of the Truckee River in downtown Truckee is approaching its final milestone. Come June, the Truckee Donner Land Trust expects to purchase the property (formerly known as the Bright Property and now dubbed Truckee Springs) to the tune of $10 million.

“Funding is coming along well for Truckee Springs,” said Greyson Howard, communications director for the land trust. “… We’re getting really close to that $3 million in individual donations. We’re at over $2.9 million at this point … To help get us to the finish line there and get more community involved, we’ve had a couple funders [Martis Camp Foundation, Ralph Eschenbach, and Carol Provan] step forward and say they’ll match every donation that comes in between now and closing.”

The remaining $7 million of public dollars has come from a variety of sources: $500,000 from the Town of Truckee, $500,000 from the Truckee Tahoe Airport District, $1 million from a California Natural Resources Agency grant, and $2 million from the California Wildlife Conservation Board. The TDLT will provide the last $3 million from its own development proposal transfer fees and other funds.

$6 million will purchase the property itself, and an additional $4 million will provide funding for the bridge, amenities, and ongoing trail maintenance. Those interested in donating can visit the land trust website at truckeedonnerlandtrust.org, mail a check to P.O. Box 8816, Truckee, 96162, or call (530) 582-4711.

Simultaneously, alongside raising funds, Howard said the land trust has been working on trail planning, permitting and environmental reviews, and coordination with the town in regard to the bridge that will cross over the river.

Once the property has been obtained, the TDLT will provide access to appropriate agencies for utility or other work. Howard said a gate or similar structure may be installed initially to deter the general public and non-official motor vehicles from passing through. The current no-trespassing signs will come down with the purchase.

~ AH

OR-93 is the collared gray wolf that was just tracked traveling farther south into California than any other recorded member of his species. Photo by Austin Smith Jr., Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs

Gray Wolf Tracked Farthest South in California Recorded History as Packs Grow

CALIFORNIA, TAHOE

A collared gray wolf named OR-93 has traveled farther south in California than any other documented collared wolf, first departing from his pack southeast of Mt. Hood. OR-93 made a long trek down into California and eventually ended up in Mono County. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed that the wolf left Oregon’s White River pack.

“OR-93 is the 16th gray wolf documented to have dispersed into California, and most of those animals have traveled from Oregon,” explains a Feb. 23 press release from the CDFW.

According to a release by the Tahoe Fund, in 2017 a 2-year-old female gray wolf was recorded in the Tahoe area, making it the first time a gray wolf was seen around the area. The first wolf known in California since the 1920s, OR-7, first visited in late 2011, according to the CDFW.

“Since then, the state has seen the formation of two packs,” continues CDFW’s explanation of the lay of the land of California gray wolf packs. “The Shasta Pack in Siskiyou County had five pups in 2015 before disappearing late that year. The Lassen Pack, which occupies parts of Lassen and Plumas counties, has produced pups each year from 2017 to 2020. Additionally, a new pair of wolves has recently been documented in Siskiyou County and CDFW biologists believe it is likely they will produce pups this spring.”

These wolves are being monitored using GPS collars by the CDFW and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

~ BL

Land Use Alternatives Under Review, 2022 General Plan Projected Completion

TRUCKEE

Updates to the Town of Truckee’s general plan, which looks ahead to 2040, are on step number four, reviewing land use alternatives. Consulting agency Ascent Environmental is currently working with town staff to make revisions recommended at the January 2021 General Plan Advisory Committee meeting (which was partly carried over into an early-February meeting). Because extensive revisions and even new options are underway, the Feb. 25 GPAC meeting was canceled and discussions will resume at the March 25 meeting.

Goals for the land use alternatives include preserving open space, providing increased housing opportunities, and making the Truckee River a main point of interest. Focus on these alternatives began in fall 2019/early winter 2020, with a five- to six-month delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Jenna Gatto, planning staffer with the town, told Moonshine that the land alternatives discussions have taken substantially longer than anticipated.

On a positive note, Gatto shared in an email that the Covid-necessitated shift to virtual meetings has meant an uptick in public participation. “It’s obviously easier for people to just log on to their computer and Zoom along with us than to show up in person to a GPAC meeting,” she wrote.

Summer 2022 is now the projected completion date for the general plan as a whole. Regularly maintained information can be found at truckee2040.com. The Downtown Specific Plan update is occurring simultaneously, so projected growth across the downtown corridor and town as a whole are complementary.

~ AH

Progress Toward Green Public Transportation

AUBURN

Placer County residents could see zero emission buses traveling around North Lake Tahoe as soon as 2023 as part of a county-wide effort to go green. The board of supervisors approved spending $345,000 for a zero emission bus feasibility and transition plan that will study the best way to roll out a green bus fleet over a 20-year period. The study will analyze the county’s current fleet and future needs for both Placer County Transit and Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transit. Zero emission facility concepts and a phasing strategy will be developed along with a transition plan and timeline. The study will evaluate infrastructure for both electric and hydrogen-fueled vehicles. The county plans to put the first of its green buses into operation in 2023. State regulation requires all public transportation agencies in California transition to zero emission buses by 2040. Beginning in 2026, 25% of new bus acquisitions must be zero emission, with 100% of all new bus purchases having to meet that requirement by 2029. The study, partially funded with state grant dollars specific to green transportation efforts, will put the county on track for the timeline laid out by the California Air Resources board to submit a zero emission rollout plan by July 1, 2023. WSP USA Inc., who specializes in zero emission bus implementation, was elected to complete the evaluation.

~ Placer County press release

PRECIPITATION CALCULATION: Desert Research Institute scientist Meghan Collins collects data via her smartphone for the Tahoe Rain or Snow project. Photo courtesy DRI

Traditional Hydrologic Models May Misidentify Snow as Rain,
New Citizen Science Data Shows

RENO

Normally, we think of the freezing point of water as 32°F – but in the world of weather forecasting and hydrologic prediction, that isn’t always the case. In the Lake Tahoe region of the Sierra Nevada, the shift from snow to rain during winter storms may actually occur at temperatures closer to 39.5°F, according to new research from the Desert Research Institute, Lynker Technologies, and citizen scientists from the Tahoe Rain or Snow project. The new paper, published in Frontiers in Earth Science, used data collected by 200 volunteer weather spotters to identify the temperature cutoff between rain and snow in winter storms that occurred during the 2020 season. Their results have implications for the accuracy of water resources management and weather forecasting.

Previous studies have found that thresholds used are particularly problematic in the Sierra Nevada, where a significant proportion of winter precipitation falls near 32°F. When the temperature is near freezing, weather forecasts and hydrologic models have difficulty correctly predicting whether it will be raining or snowing. Tahoe Rain or Snow was launched in 2019 to take on the challenge of enhancing the prediction of snow accumulation and rainfall that may lead to flooding by making real-time observations of winter weather. The project is continuing in 2021. To join, text WINTER to (877) 909-0798. You will find out how to download the Citizen Science Tahoe app and receive alerts about good times to send weather observations. Tahoe Rain or Snow particularly needs observations from sparsely populated, remote, or backcountry areas of the Sierra Nevada.

~ DRI press release

Ordinances for STRs Introduced by Commissioners

RENO

As the use of short-term rentals has increased, the need for ordinances regulating them has become a top priority for Washoe County. There are approximately 500 to 1,200 STRs in unincorporated Washoe County, a number that varies by season, and the vast majority (90%) of them are in Incline Village/Crystal Bay. Beginning in February 2019 with public comment, surveys, workshops, meetings, and small-group input, Washoe County determined that the top issues concerning residents are parking, trash, noise, and occupancy limits. The board of county commissioners conducted the first reading and introduction of the proposed ordinances in a public hearing on Feb. 24. The ordinances work to define what an STR is, and create specific requirements to mitigate the topics of concern, as well as to create an enforcement process. Highlights of the ordinances include no parties or events (including weddings), quiet hours, one parking space per four occupants, no on-street parking, and use of wildlife-resistant trash containers. 

The next step is to hear a second reading on March 23, when the board will determine a fees and fines schedule. Washoe County will collect feedback during the summer travel season and modify the ordinances as needed before the end of the year.

~ Washoe County press release

A Collaborative Food Rescue Program

TRUCKEE

Keep Truckee Green has announced a partnership with Truckee Sourdough Company and Sierra Community House to create Feed Truckee, a new food recovery program. Keep Truckee Green, a division of the Town of Truckee, recruits and organizes volunteers to pick up surplus bread products from Truckee Sourdough and deliver them to Sierra Community House, a nonprofit that (among numerous other roles) distributes food and fights hunger in the Truckee/Tahoe community. Feed Truckee’s first five deliveries successfully rescued 960 pounds of bread for human consumption. Sierra Community House confirmed that the distributions have gone smoothly and that all of the bread was received by grateful community members.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Sierra Community House has seen demand for their hunger relief services increase by 216%. Keep Truckee Green is looking for volunteer drivers to perform the deliveries on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, from 9 to 9:30 a.m. If you are interested in volunteering as a food rescuer, please visit the event page at keeptruckeegreen.org to learn more, sign the waiver, and claim your shift. You will then be contacted with further details.

~ Town of Truckee press release

Supervisorial Redistricting Process Begins to Take Shape

PLACER COUNTY

The next steps to develop new Placer County supervisorial district boundaries are underway.

The board of supervisors has voted to appoint the Placer County planning commission to act as the advisory redistricting commission to draw redistricting maps, which will ultimately be brought forward to the public and board for formal evaluation and selection.

The board also approved an updated redistricting timeline, which was originally approved at the Jan. 26 board meeting. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau indicated that states will not receive 2020 census data for local jurisdictions until after July 30. Historically, it has been published in late March.

Following the state’s 30-day review, the county has a shortened time frame, between September and early November, for staff to analyze preliminary census data and receive community input on potential supervisorial boundaries and preliminary map alternatives, hold public meetings and consider and adopt final maps. In a presentation to the board, county staff noted that preliminary redistricting map alternatives can be drafted and then updated once 2020 census data is formally published.

~ Placer County press release

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