TAHOE CITY, Calif. — As we prepare to celebrate 150 years of Tahoe City and 75 years of Tahoe City Public Utility District this Labor Day weekend, we have reflected on what brought our forefathers and mothers to settle here.
We chose a theme about the true spirit of our community — “Tahoe City … Founded and Sustained by People of Character Committed to Community.”
Tahoe City has never been an easy place to make a living or to survive. No one was ever forced to come here, leaving the comforts of more developed communities with easier climates and access to supplies and jobs.
We chose to come here — some for adventure and recreation, some for independence, and almost all for the incredible natural beauty.
To survive and prosper we had to work in partnership, relying on each other’s help, and committing our time and talents to the benefit of our neighbors and families.
An important part of that partnership was the creation of the first locally-based government in the Tahoe Basin. From its beginning, with a vote of 52 local residents, Tahoe City Public Utility District was charged with solving problems for the community.
While the first undertaking was water service, the community quickly looked to its local leaders to address other issues — sewer service, clean-up and care of Commons Beach, and later to streetlights, bike trails, boardwalks, community buildings, sidewalks and parks.
When the community asked for help, TCPUD worked to find solutions. Sometimes the solutions were found in supporting volunteer efforts to address issue, sometimes the solutions included becoming a voice with regional, state and federal agencies to address their responsibilities, and sometimes the solutions were through our own governmental authority.
Whatever the issue, TCPUD has provided a local forum however needed.
In addition to the growth of services, TCPUD’s boundaries grew as well. Today, TCPUD serves communities spread over one-third of Lake Tahoe’s shoreline, the second largest utility service area around the lake.
Our customers are dispersed over many miles, creating the largest mileage of pipeline per customer not only in the Tahoe Basin but in comparison to most communities across the country.
The top priority for TCPUD is the maintenance of these water and sewer pipelines and facilities — they are critically important to public health, safety, and environmental protection.
Over the years, other services were requested as well. The vast majority of our community is employed in businesses which serve our second homeowners and visitors.
We rely heavily on their support and use of the area for their recreation. Thus parks and recreation became an important desire of our community for local and visitor use.
In 1947, local maintenance of Commons Beach began, and in 1969, a community survey added recreation services.
Today, TCPUD maintains the largest network of formalized bike trails in the Basin, one of the busiest beachfront parks and boat launch facilities, and supports award-winning youth and adult recreation programs. Our parks and recreation serves over 1,000,000 users each year.
During the last 75 years, you have elected 31 leaders to serve as Board members. They have been custodians to watch over your water, sewer, parks and recreation.
They have been fiscal stewards of a portion of your tax dollars and of your rates. They have understood your ever-increasing desire for transparency and accountability, and have proceeded with web-streamed meetings, a comprehensive website, and insistence on constant communications with customers regarding projects and issues.
Public service is about solving problems and I am very proud to work with a team of 40 full-time dedicated, professional employees, whose purpose is to serve and assist you.
Our seasonal staff are equally as dedicated, willing to join during the busiest of seasons and serve our community’s needs. Sometimes staff must play a regulatory role, ensuring the public health and safety through inspecting your connections to the public water or sewer system.
Sometimes we play an emergency service role available 24/7 365 days a year, when a blizzard, flood, or fire impacts water or sewer service, our staff responds to help.
Sometimes it is in a leadership role, developing community facilities or representing our community’s interests in projects other agencies are undertaking.
And every day we provide homes and families services which make lives safer and healthier. Whatever the role, your TCPUD staff are ready, willing and trained to respond.
As we celebrate Tahoe City’s 150 and Tahoe City PUD’s 75th, we focus on the legacy of community founded by those who came before us.
The staff and board of TCPUD are proud to carry on the example Bill Vernon set for us 75 years ago — to serve our customers and our community in whatever way we are needed.
— Cindy Gustafson joined TCPUD in 1991 and has served as general manager since 2008.