News Briefs

Tahoe Keys Control Methods Test Fully Approved

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE

On Jan. 26 at 2:45 p.m., the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s board of directors approved in a unanimous decision the use of herbicides as a mitigation solution for invasive aquatic weeds spreading in the Tahoe Keys on Tahoe’s south shore, threatening the clarity of the entire lake. On Jan. 13, the Lahontan Water Quality Control Board voted unanimously to approve this test of methods to tackle the growing infestation. The test follows over seven years of planning, scientific analysis, and community feedback, with the League to Save Lake Tahoe (known popularly as Keep Tahoe Blue) acting as a strong supporter and advocate for the chemical removal methods of invasive weeds. 

A statement from Darcie Goodman Collins, CEO of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, on the Lahontan approval of the test reads in part:

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“To Keep Tahoe Blue, we urgently need to solve the invasive species problem in the Tahoe Keys. [The] approval of the Tahoe Keys Control Methods Test puts us on the right path. [It] recognizes the rigorous scientific basis, innovative design, and strict environmental safeguards of the test, which were crucial to earning the league’s support.” She noted that, with her organization’s leadership, the coalition has involved years of coordination between the Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association, Lahontan, the TRPA, and members of the community.

Jesse Patterson, chief strategy officer for the League to Save Lake Tahoe, said at the board meeting that he’s been focused on the Tahoe Keys issue for roughly 10 years. He described the process that led the coalition to start exploring chemical solutions, ultimately concluding that the analysis clearly shows that “the status quo is destroying the lake” and “there is no silver bullet” to address the issue, which he urged must be addressed quickly.

Read a dissenting opinion perspective in this My Shot, which argues against using chemicals and provides ideas for alternative solutions that haven’t been fully researched, published in the December edition of Moonshine. The Sierra Club is also objecting to this project, with a representative at the TRPA meeting saying during public comment that it “sets a dangerous precedent” for other lakes. The representative also pointed out that non-chemical methods, including experiments with UV light, “haven’t been adequately demonstrated.” Two petitions, formal letters, and public comments were delivered to the Lahontan board against the approval of the project, totaling roughly 6,000. 

TRPA board member Wes Rice was previously publicly against the use of herbicides to remove aquatic invasive weeds, but noted during the Jan. 26 meeting he’d changed his mind: “I’m still concerned about putting herbicides in the lake, but it would seem to me that there’s enough controls in place that we need to go ahead with this test.”

Following over 20 public comments, Kim Caringer, TRPA environmental improvement program division manager, shot down concerns about drinking water supplies being contaminated, and whether a one-time use of the chemicals would necessitate continued future usage, stating multiple times that the tests proved the herbicides wouldn’t leave the Tahoe Keys or necessitate further use of chemicals. 

After the board’s questions, TRPA board member and Placer County District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson said, “Not one of us who treasure Tahoe want to be making this decision,” acknowledging the “passionate” concerns raised during public comment and in advance of the meeting, but stating that she “can’t possibly second guess the decades of research … that led to this decision.” She implored that the TRPA work to address a “lack of public trust” displayed by the commenters.

~ BL

HARVESTING WEEDS: While mountains of invasive aquatic weeds have been pulled out of the lake over the years, studies have concluded this is not a sustainable way to stop the spread of invasive weeds that threaten Tahoe’s clarity. Photo courtesy the League to Save Lake Tahoe

New Short-term Rental Ordinance Moves Ahead in Placer County 

TAHOE CITY

The Placer County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 25 unanimously approved the first draft of an ordinance to regulate short-term rentals in Eastern Placer County, which would repeal and replace its current ordinance that has been in effect since 2019. A moratorium on new STR permits expires March 31, and the replacement ordinance will be implemented April 1 if fully approved. A second reading of the ordinance will be held Feb. 8 during the board’s regularly scheduled meeting.

The new ordinance caps STR permits at 3,900, requires all permit holders to obtain a business license, increases fines for those who break the rules, requires fire inspections to be more frequent, and imposes stricter nuisance standards like increased quiet hours, among other things. County staff surveyed 20 jurisdictions on their STR policies, held several stakeholder meetings and focus groups, and did a community survey on the topic.

“We have received a huge amount of correspondence around this issue,” Cindy Gustafson, board chair and district 5 supervisor, said during the meeting.

The nearly 5 hour meeting on the topic included two hours of public comment from people who attended the meeting in person at Granlibakken in Tahoe City and virtually. County staff had proposed the ordinance to include a 10% increase of STRs, capping the number of permits at 4,300. But, after several people spoke against a 10% increase, the board decided against it.

“The quality of life for us has been degraded as a result of what we have seen the last few years,” said Tahoe Vista resident Sarah Coolidge. “I am here to urge you not to pass a 10% increase on the current number … Your constituents are telling you loud and clear
they are at a breaking point at the current level.” Click here to view the meeting, and future board agendas.

~ Kara Fox, special to Moonshine Ink

STR-EGULATE: The Placer County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 25 approved a first draft of a new short-term rental ordinance that will repeal and replace the current one. Several community members turned out in person and virtually to speak about the issue. Photo by Kara Fox

Tahoe Fund Accepting 2022 Project Proposals

LAKE TAHOE

The Tahoe Fund is currently seeking to collaborate with organizations to develop projects with fundraising goals of $5,000 to $1,000,000. The projects should align with the following program areas:

  • Forest health: The goal is to fund innovative solutions that will increase the pace and scale of forest restoration in the Tahoe Basin.
  • Lake clarity/water quality/lake health: The goal is to complement and support key stakeholders’ efforts to improve lake clarity, water quality, and lake health. Tahoe Fund is particularly interested in projects with a focus on aquatic invasive species, near-shore water quality, and Upper Truckee watershed restoration.
  • Sustainable recreation: The organization is interested in sustainable outdoor recreation projects that will improve quality of experience and equity of access, while minimizing impacts on natural resources in Tahoe.
  • Stewardship: The Tahoe Fund wants to inspire more people to take care of Tahoe by funding projects that increase environmental awareness and promote behavioral change.
  • Transportation: Contribute innovative solutions to current and future transportation efforts, especially those that help solve peak congestion issues.

At this stage, the Tahoe Fund is most interested in learning the basic details of a would-be project, the benefit to the Tahoe Basin, the alignment with a specific goal area, the general timeline, and a budget range.

Please review project guidelines prior to completing the form. All projects seeking 2022 support should submit by Jan. 31, here.

~ Tahoe Fund press release

Missing Skier Found Dead After Two-Week Search

NORTHSTAR

Truckee resident Rory Angelotta, 43, was skiing in whiteout conditions on Christmas Day at Northstar and was noticed missing when he did not show up at a planned Christmas dinner that night. A primary search effort called off Dec. 30, but the following Saturday, coordination between the volunteer Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue team and the Nevada County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team expanded the search area and brought in a rescue canine, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Angelotta’s body was found about a half mile from a residential neighborhood, near Schaffer’s Mill Creek, at 10:42 a.m. on Jan. 8. Authorities believe Angelotta got lost in the near-zero visibility conditions. Angelotta’s phone had pinged an emergency signal before his death.

~ BL

Moving In, On, Up

MOVING UP: Placer County District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson will replace District 2 Supervisor Robert Weygandt as board chair, selected by her fellow board members. Courtesy photo

Gustafson Appointed Board Chair; Holmes as Vice-Chair

PLACER COUNTY

District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson has been selected by her fellow board members to take the helm as the new chair of the Placer County board, replacing District 2 Supervisor Robert Weygandt. The annual rotation is a tradition for the board and takes place during the first meeting of each new year. 

“I am honored to step into this position,” said Gustafson. “Our board functions extremely well and our residents are highly engaged. Those are the two main ingredients necessary for successful governance and I feel confident this experience will be a positive one.”

The board also named District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes as vice-chair of the board to fill in for Gustafson when she is absent from a meeting. 

The chair is responsible for managing the meetings to ensure proper procedures are followed and facilitating public comment. Setting agenda priorities and acting as spokesperson for the board are also important responsibilities of this position. The Placer County Board of Supervisors meets regularly at 9 a.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 175 Fulweiler Ave. in Auburn. The meetings are open to the public but residents are encouraged to participate remotely through Zoom to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

~ Placer County press release

Tony Karwowski Named NLTRA’s Executive Director

NORTH TAHOE

On Jan. 7, the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association’s board of directors selected Tony Karwowski as its new CEO. Karwowski will lead the organization in its mission to foster a thriving local community and encourage responsible travel along with environmental stewardship.

A 20-year resident of the North Lake Tahoe region, Karwowski has been part of Northstar California Resort’s senior leadership team for the past five years, serving as director of base area operations. He has served on both the Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Management Association board and the NLTRA’s capital infrastructure and transportation committees, collaborating with regional stakeholders on transit and infrastructure projects including the regional transit vision plan, regional park and ride program, traffic mitigation programming, roadway signage, and funding of the resort triangle multi-use/bike path system. 

“It is an exciting and dynamic time for the NLTRA as it shifts its focus from destination marketing to destination stewardship, and I am absolutely thrilled to lead the organization through this transition,” said Karwowski in a press release. “With the recently instituted formation of the Tourism Business Improvement District, the NLTRA is charting a new course that will allow us to convene key community stakeholders and focus on addressing the most pressing issues our community faces, including housing, transit, environmental sustainability, and tourism impact mitigation among others. I’m ready to get started.”

Karwowski lives in North Lake Tahoe with his wife, Danielle, a teacher at North Tahoe Middle School, and their two boys, Seth and Griffin. He will assume his new role on Jan. 31.

~ NLTRA press release

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