New film explores Lake Tahoe housing crisis
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The Lake Tahoe housing crisis is a hot topic, and local resident Elizabeth Cameron has documented the difficulties of finding places to live.
Cameron was a coach for the Palisades Tahoe ski team five years ago, before moving away to pursue other ventures. When she returned in late 2021 for the winter season, housing prices had skyrocketed.
“I was so blown away by how just five years prior, it had been so easy to find a place,” said Cameron. “I was just shocked by how much more difficult living up here, from a rental perspective, had become in just five years.”
The idea struck for Cameron to create a short documentary about the housing crisis in the basin, specifically centered around skiers and snowboarders. From there, she posted on Facebook looking for people to help create the film.
“I was blown away by the community response and support,” Cameron said. “So it’s grown into a much bigger project.”
Now, the 30-minute documentary, Room and Board, will be playing at the Mammoth Film Festival at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 4, and features many voices in the community, including local snowboarder Irie Jefferson, Christine Savage with Beyond the Boundaries and Stacy Caldwell with the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation.
“We thought it was powerful to focus on this area of people that are so passionate about [the region] and such a reason for why people love the region,” said Cameron.
Overall, the goal for Cameron is to raise awareness and show people how to get involved while shedding light on resources that are available.
“Part of the goal for the documentary was really to humanize the whole topic,” said Cameron. “I think sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the data of housing prices and looking at these macro trends, but the beauty of the medium is that you can dig into some personal stories and get that slice of life perspective on the issue.”
It was important for Cameron as a director to interview people who had been in Lake Tahoe for varied amounts of time. This meant that some of her interviews were with those who had only been in the area a few months, to people that have been here for decades.
“I hope that it conveys that today’s early 20s ski instructor or whomever is going to grow up to become a community leader and to show that these things aren’t static,” said Cameron. “If you just have employee housing, where that solves the immediate issue for people that don’t have families yet, it doesn’t solve the longer ability for people to live in a community and really put down roots.”
The film will be showing locally at Alibi Ale Works, with the first showing at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 9 at the Truckee Public House, and the second at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 16, at the Incline Public House. The Truckee showing will also feature a raffle for a Hardway snowboard.
Currently, there is a GoFund Me to help raise funds to compensate the Tahoe-based editor and cinematographers who helped make the movie, along with post production costs, infographics to visualize key data, and other film festival submission costs.
Cinematographer, editor of the film and North Shore local Cedar Gately was one of the first people to reach out to Cameron when she began searching for team members for the project. Part of the reason that Gately was such a key player in the production of the film was because he already had endless hours of snowboarding footage and people he thought should be interviewed for the documentary.
Gately moved up to Lake Tahoe with friends into a family home, before finding out he’d need to move in 2019. After eight months of searching for a place that he and his roommates could afford, they were fortunate enough to find a condo.
“We struggled to find an adequate spot,” said Gately. “Even coming from Santa Barbara where the rent prices were already high, when I moved up here, it was cheap for me at first … and then as soon as we needed to find a place to live, even with savings, it was detrimental and really surprising to see the lack of adequate housing for people our age in this town.”
Gately is referencing the early 20 to late 30 year olds in the area that come to Lake Tahoe for various reasons, including for higher education, more opportunities for work, and the ability to easily get out on the mountains.
When Gately found out the film would be focused on people just like him, he knew he had to jump on the opportunity.
“I don’t want the local workforce and everyone that makes Tahoe such a good place by contributing their love for the community and their love for nature and progressing this wonderful place we love to call home. I don’t want to see it degraded by the lack of suitable employees for businesses,” said Gately. “And firefighters and policeman, if any of those people can’t live here, we’re going to have a tough time trying to deal with the amount of the people that want to visit here.
“When I first fell in love with Tahoe, I was just a visitor,” he added. “I want to have that same ability for other people too; for them to come live in Tahoe. And if we don’t have housing of that, it’s definitely going to be a tough, tough time.”
Cameron and Gately along with the rest of the team for the movie found the biggest challenge in filming the documentary was on the research side of things.
Cameron mentioned it was difficult to find data even with the help of the Tahoe Prosperity Center, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, and the Mountain Housing Council, due to the multiple counties and states Lake Tahoe resides in.
Rather than attempting to find the answers that officials themselves are still looking for, Cameron and the team decided it might be better to acknowledge that just like the multiple counties looking to find the a solution, they don’t have one either.
“So that was kind of a pivot where we decided we can just say this is part of what makes it difficult,” said Cameron.
To donate to the film’s GoFund Me, visit http://www.gofundme.com/f/tahoe-ski-movie-housing-crisis-documentary.
Miranda Jacobson is a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sun. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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