Longtime local says so long to Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Longtime local says so long to Tahoe

Kara Fox
Sierra Sun

Jason Kelley/Sierra SunNorma Schwartz and longtime friend Jeff Lanini have breakfast at the Old Post Office on Wednesday. Schwartz is moving out of the area after many years.

Norma Schwartz sits in the Old Post Office Restaurant Wednesday in Carnelian Bay and reminisces about the past 30 years of her life in Tahoe ” about jokes she played on the community and her passion for the people who live here.

Schwartz, who opened the restaurant with her husband in the 1970s, will soon leave Tahoe to start a new chapter of her life in Cupertino, Calif. She moved from the South Bay to Tahoe with her husband, Al, and children in 1973, and has been active in the community, including serving on the North Tahoe Public Utility District Board since 1981.

“One of the main things is I can’t take the snow anymore,” Schwartz said of her move back to the Bay Arrea. “I’ve realized that the past two winters. I’ve lived in the snow long enough.”

Schwartz, who will continue to serve on the utility district board until she leaves this fall, was the first and only woman to serve on the board during her tenure. This also marks the first time that her seat has not seen an incumbent running for re-election in more than 30 years. She was appointed to the board from a pool of 11 candidates in December of 1981 after the resignation of newly-elected board member Ken Oerlich.

District board member Jeff Lanini recalled one of Schwartz’s greatest achievements while she was on the board: Making sure the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act included a stipulation that kept the district’s property taxes in Tahoe to maintain the sewer system rather than given to Sacramento.

“She pled our case to the state Legislature to keep our property taxes,” Lanini said. “Norma gallantly led that fight. There’s no bigger moment for our community than that.”

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Schwartz also recalled hanging out with President Bill Clinton when he was in town during the first Tahoe Environmental Summit in 1997, and having the Secret Service tell her that Clinton enjoyed Schwartz’s company because she reminded him of his mother.

“I’m trying to think of any local politician who went to the state Legislature and hung out with the president and doesn’t talk about it,” Lanini said.

But Schwartz is quick to chime in: “I don’t need to talk about it. I have the photos at home.”

It is this quick wit and humor that locals will miss when Schwartz begins her new life outside of Tahoe.

“I started working here 10 years ago when I was 15 and I never thought I would see the day Norma left,” said Old Post Office waitress Jenn Schultz. “She comes in every single day. It’s just weird. She’s been here forever.”

Schwartz said what she will miss most about Tahoe is the people who live here.

“There are fantastic people up here,” Schwartz said. “There’s nothing like the people up here. Everybody helps everybody else.”

A reception and good-bye party for Schwartz will be scheduled sometime in early September.