Social network for neighborhoods grows on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore |

Social network for neighborhoods grows on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore

Claire Cudahy

Borrowing a cup of sugar from your neighbor is now a lot more high tech.

Nextdoor, a private online social network for neighborhoods, allows residents to communicate about everything from lost dogs and crime to garage sales and recommendations for plumbers.

Over the last three years, membership in South Lake Tahoe has more than tripled, according to Nextdoor's communication coordinator Annie Barco. (As a policy, the company does not release exact membership numbers.)

The free platform officially launched in 2011, and today there are 20 neighborhoods that have registered with Nextdoor in South Lake Tahoe, in addition to two in Stateline and one in Zephyr Cove.

Nextdoor verifies addresses either by phone or mail in order to make sure that each private network is only accessible to residents who actually live in that specific neighborhood. Users can choose how much information they want to share with their neighbors, as well as if they would like to connect with adjacent neighborhoods.

South Lake Tahoe resident Chantale Hansen said there are more than 150 neighbors who use Nextdoor in the Al Tahoe neighborhood. Nextdoor users in the Al Tahoe area can also connect to 1,300 other residents in nearby neighborhoods like Sierra Tract and Tahoe Keys.

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"We have used this tool to advertise things for sale, bears, issues with [vacation home rentals], neighborhood cleanups, help lost doggies find their owners, houses for sale, potlucks, the passing of a neighbor, the loss of a home, and as a tool for so much outreach," Hansen said.

Hansen also noted that the network — which can be accessed through an app or Nextdoor's website — can be helpful for checking in on elderly neighbors or sending out alerts during power outages, storms or emergency situations.

For Heavenly Valley resident Scott Savell, Nextdoor is also a great tool for "neighborhood watch."

"When I see reports of multiple cars being broken into or numerous bikes being stolen I start to lock my doors, put personal items in my garage as well as keep on eye out on our street," Savell explained.

Many South Shore users pointed to the community building aspect of the platform. Residents can advertise neighborhood events and form community groups to connect neighbors who have shared interests.

Al Tahoe resident Kelly Smith Cassidy remembered one particular post this summer where a neighbor informed the community about the death of her longtime partner on Nextdoor.

"There was an outpouring of love from people who didn't know her, but lived nearby. There were drop offs of food and flowers to her doorstep. It was amazing to see the community come together," Smith Cassidy recalled.

So why not just connect through Facebook?

As Meyers residents Monika Taboada put it: "I'm not Facebook friends with my entire neighborhood, [nor do I] want to be … And most topics are mainly neighborhood related."

Another user in Tahoe Paradise described the platform as being more "adult" and "civil" than many of the South Shore community groups on Facebook.

And for Maria Borovinskaya, who is moving to Lake Tahoe from the Bay Area next month, it's the perfect way to meet new people.

"I use it every day in the Bay Area," she said. "Please do not tell me people don't use it there!"