Thank you for joining in on the most recent Moonshine Ink Tahoe Talks, Loved to Death, Our Overcrowded Summer 2020.
A special appreciation to the local agency representatives and community members who took the time to join the conversation and share their valuable insight. COVID-19 and the summer surge of crowds in Tahoe have been a learning experience for us all.
Monday’s community conversation was packed with data on crowds, what’s been done to address the surge, and looking ahead. Three topics were addressed: tourism by the numbers; public agency regulation and response; and community impacts and response.
Below are key points brought up during the meeting. Find a link to the video recording as well as a list of shared URLs. In the spirit of spreading confirmed information, and to help #KeepTahoeSmart, we encourage you to share this enlightening community conference call in your circles. Forward this email, post the video on your social media pages, and talk about it in conversations.
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Loved to Death, Our Overcrowded Summer 2020 Key Points
Into the woods
- Tahoe National Forest’s campgrounds are at full capacity. 2020 summer compared to 2019 summer, Father’s Day weekend through the end of July:
- Granite Flat Campground: 207% increase in occupancy
- Logger Campground: 152% increase in occupancy
- French Meadows Campground: 432% increase in occupancy
- Lewis Campground: 300% increase in occupancy
- Dispersed camping (which occurs outside official campgrounds) is on the rise, but isn’t well tracked. Thus, TNF makes guesses based on the following:
- The number of escaped campfires (double the amount this year)
- The number of abandoned campfires (record numbers this year)
- An example: In Hope Valley, a popular dispersed camping area northeast of Stampede Reservoir, TNF counted 300 RVs dispersed camping in one day, which technically made Hope Valley the second most popular campground even though it’s dispersed.
- Currently, all national forests are closed in California, an unprecedented closure for unprecedented fire risk and activity. Simply closing forests to activity will not be the new norm, however. TNF is looking to better manage dispersed camping (and thus escaped/abandoned campfires) and provide a more developed recreational experience.
Wanted: More data
- The North Lake Tahoe Resort Association is seeking better ways to track hotel, motel, and (especially) short-term rental data, the latter accounting for 60% or more of total lodging inventory.
- Agencies recognize that the day-visitor is a significant part of the crowd increases this summer (as well as second homeowners staying longer than usual), and are looking to identify how day visitor data can be better tracked.
- Visit Truckee pointed to visitor intercept studies as one way to collect day-visitor information. Truckee recently conducted one, and learned that on average, overnight visitors spend an average of $204 per day in the Truckee economy while day visitors spend at best $96 per person per day.
- Tahoe Regional Planning Agency uses an application called Streetlight that tracks cell phone data, and the NLTRA is talking with them and other applications to collect crowd information. There are possibilities for a collective effort to pay for this information.
Short-term vs. long-term solutions
- Local entities have put efforts in place to address short-term rental concerns, noise and trash issues, and report/complaint systems, but it’s understood that more short-term solutions are needed.
- Some solutions to address the visitor and population surge will be simple, increased signage and education; but also needed are candid conversations about the driving force for marketing the Truckee/Tahoe region — this currently feels disjointed.
- On the long-term side of things, One Tahoe was brought up as an example of a solution in the making. The plan seeks to fund a transportation system with multiple transit and multimodal options. There are over 50 million vehicle trips on local roads, and an estimated $3.12 billion is desired to cover transportation system funding needs through 2040. Currently, only $1.58 billion is available. One Tahoe looks to address that gap through funding mechanisms. As of early 2020, the initiative is honing in on a transportation user fee.
- A top-of-mind question: How can current long-term plans incorporate and produce short-term solutions?
- Local Truckeeite Court Leve shared his appreciation for the increased inter-agency work being done, but disagrees with the mindset of education over enforcement. Without actual enforcement, he said, people won’t listen.
- To this, the Town of Truckee shared that its police department has given out 20-plus litter citations in the past few weeks.
- Placer County noted $500 as a first-offense fine for STRs (on the renter or owner), $1,000 for a second offense, and a revocation of rental abilities as a third offense. Since the beginning of COVID-19 until Sept. 14, of the calls into the Placer County hotline, 31% (137) have been about STRs, 30% about trash, and 7% regarding noise.
Communication is your best friend
- Overall, collaboration between agencies and the public could bring about a positive demographic shift in encouraging visitors to respect the local region.
- Take a look at the links below for the resources shared:
- Video on responsible recreation in North Lake Tahoe, created in June 2020
- Know Before You Go content
- Mask UP Tahoe advocacy campaign
- Visit Truckee COVID-19 updates
- Regional agencies are collaborating on a fact sheet that outlines closures and operational modifications. For North Tahoe specifically, you can find that information here.
These are many of the key points from the conference call, but to get the full monty, review the full conference call video here.
Future Tahoe Talks Topics
Here’s a running list of potential future topics. We welcome your ideas!
- Evacuation plans during a wildfire
- Second homeowners in the age of coronavirus
- Struggles with rents and mortgages
- New business models and ideas
- How to handle kids while you’re on a conference call