‘Things are different up here’: North Tahoe town hall focuses on reopening, tourism plans | SierraSun.com

‘Things are different up here’: North Tahoe town hall focuses on reopening, tourism plans

As the Tahoe region moves further into California’s plans for reopening, officials from a number of sectors in North Tahoe and Placer County met Tuesday morning for a virtual town hall.

“As we enter into our busy summer season, we know there’s a lot of issues to address,” Cindy Gustafson, District 5 Placer County supervisor, said to open the meeting.

Gustafson touched on Placer County’s health order expiring in May and plans to follow the state through the remaining stages of reopening. She also spoke on current marketing campaigns toward visitors and being responsible within the Tahoe Basin.

“We can’t enforce our way out of this,” said Gustafson. “We don’t have enough law enforcement or code enforcement to watch what each and every one of us do every single day. So we focused on education … so that we really help people understand why it’s important for them to protect themselves and to protect each other.”

Electronic billboards with messaging about social distancing and other practices while visiting Lake Tahoe are in place at every major entry way into the basin, bearing messages like, “Go big on distancing.”

“The idea is that we can capture people before they even get to Tahoe to understand that things are different up here and we have an expectation of how we want everyone to behave,” said Tahoe Fund CEO Amy Berry.

Gustafson added that while the county has partnered regionally to cancel events around Truckee and Tahoe like Fourth of July fireworks, tourism is ultimately what the economy in the area thrives on.

“The survival of this economy, each and every one of us, is tied in someway to tourism,” she added.

The town hall also included input from Tahoe Forest Health System President & CEO Harry Weis, who noted that the number of cases locally have grown slowly with the last confirmed case by the hospital from the area coming on April 29.


On the recreation side, Sean Barclay, general manager of Tahoe City Public Utility District added that day camps, youth programs, along with youth and adult sports will begin as the state allows. Boating on Lake Tahoe is also seeing a loosening of restrictions, according to Jeff Cowen, public information officer for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, who said that all of the inspection stations for the lake will open June 26.

As other restrictions are relaxed, the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association is helping visitors know what to expect by providing readiness toolkits that advocate for responsible tourism practices, including encouraging social distancing, wearing of face coverings, and frequent hand washing. The visitor readiness Know Before You Go guide can be found at http://www.nltra.org.

“To say our business community is excited to welcome visitors back to the lake and mountains would be an understatement,” said Jeffrey Hentz, CEO of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. “While we continue to take a cautious reopening approach to ensure the health and safety of our residents and guests, local businesses have implemented new operational guidelines that adhere to county and state protocols. Alongside our public land operators, they continue to demonstrate resilience in their varying business models and like us, are confident in our entire region’s ability to safely welcome visitors.”

As North Tahoe moves further into reopening, more town halls are expected to be organized, according to Gustafson.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2643.

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