| SierraSun.com

‘Appreciate the feedback’: Northstar responds to guest concerns on parking charges, maintains decision will ease congestion

Since announcing earlier this month it would begin to charge for parking at its Village View parking lot, in an effort to ease congestion, Northstar California has drawn criticism from many who ski and ride at the mountain.

Guests can still park for free at the resort’s Castle Peak lot. But the resort’s plan of charging $10 on weekdays and $20 on weekends to park at the Village View lot led to some sharp feedback.

One of the key complaints was the timing of the announcement, which was made public in October and, according to many, came shortly after riders and skiers had their bank accounts charged for the cost of 2019-20 season passes.

“In this situation, there was no communication about pass charge dates and the parking announcement whatsoever. They were two independent processes happening,” said Northstar Director of Base Operations Tony Karwowski. “The actual decision itself was a process that started some time ago … in that process we’ve tried many different things over the years to manage our ingress, egress, and parking areas at Northstar to really try to improve the guest experience.”

While determining the best way to handle parking at the resort has been an ongoing issue, Karwowski said Northstar was only recently able to announce the decision to begin charging at Village View.

“It’s a timing issue with that process,” he said. “There are a lot of different factors in that process that we have to finalize before we can actually go public with it.”

WILL IT WORK?

Another issue raised by many skiers and riders at the resort is whether the decision will actually improve congestion on Northstar Drive. The Sierra Sun received several phone calls, emails, and messages arguing that guests with passengers will make the trip up Northstar Drive, drop off passengers, and loop back around, potentially making traffic worse along that stretch of road.

The resort, however, maintains the decision to charge guests to park at Village View, along with improved shuttle frequency, will reduce congestion on Northstar Drive.

“The whole design of the system itself is to create less congestion on Northstar Drive,” said Karwowski. “The idea is that the time it takes to pull into Castle Peak, boot up, and hop on a bus, and then ride to the village is equal or less than the time it takes to drive up Northstar Drive, drive through the village, boot up, and walk down to the village to the lift.”

In order to ensure that happens, Karwowski said the resort has enhanced its transportation services from Castle Peak with additional shuttles and drivers.

Another issue facing the resort the past several years has been the congestion created on California State Route 267 during holidays and weekends.

“One of the benefits of this program, that we believe, is that it will actually allow us to take in traffic faster because we are going to be parking in simultaneous lots — both Village View and Castle Peak at the same time,” said Karwowski. “Whereas in the past, our traffic pattern has been Village View parks, and then we park Castle Peak, and that has generated some of the congestion and backup in and of itself. We feel activating both of these parking lots at the same time is going to actually allow us to take inflow faster and reduce backup on 267.”

For peak holidays and weekends Northstar said it’s working to bring back its Park & Ride program, which is a free bus service that will operate out of the Truckee Tahoe Airport.

PAY AT kIOSK OR ONLINE APP

In order to implement and enforce the parking changes at Village View, the resort has partnered with Interstate Parking, which will be responsible for taking payments, and enforcing parking via its license plate recognition technology.

“People are still going to see our employees in the parking lot directing parking spaces,” said Karwowski. “What they are also going to see is a pay-point system. We’re going to have some self-pay kiosks in the parking lot, and then we’ll also have the online app.”

For season pass holders upset enough to ask for their money to be refunded, Karwowski said, all pass sales are final.

“That is part of our season pass policy,” he added

Ultimately, the resort maintains the decision to charge for parking at Village View this season has been driven by the need to improve traffic flow on Northstar Drive.

“This is going to increase guest experience, and that’s really the aim of the program,” said Karwowski.

“Really what it comes back to is what we’ve built this program around — improving congestion on Northstar Drive and the guest experience. And that is evident in us putting in more resources into Castle Peak transportation for the year to make sure that is an expedient process … we appreciate the feedback we hear from our guests.”

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com.

Truckee Fix It clinic encourages reuse of household items

Torn up dogs toys, broken television stands and glitchy electronics are household items that normally find their way into a landfill once they’ve outlived their purpose.

The Town of Truckee is looking to change that.

The Truckee Roundhouse, along with sustainability specialists from the town, hosted the 6th Fix It Clinic on Tuesday night and gave residents the opportunity to fix their broken household items.

“It seemed like a really great opportunity to have access to tools that I don’t normally have access to, and to be able to breathe new life into things that are obviously well-loved,” said Simone Cordery-Cotter, who spent the evening sewing up stuffed dinosaurs that her one-year-old puppy chewed up.

“We’re going to figure out how to sew these back together so they’re more structurally sound,” she said, while pinning the torn cloth back together. “I’d like to see them make it another year and a half before I have to put them in the landfill.”

Across the table from Cordery-Cotter sat Holly Verbeck working with volunteer coach Todd Shimkus to fix a malfunctioning Chi Machine which helps to alleviate swelling in the ankles for those with poor circulation. Verbek had bought the $200 machine on Ebay and discovered that it was not working properly. Instead of getting rid of it, or purchasing a new one, she brought it to the clinic to fix it herself.

In the woodshop, coaches helped to repair broken chairs, picture frames and other wooden furniture items.

“You never know what you’re going to see walk through the door here,” said Erica Mertens, Truckee recycling manager, who helps organize the event. “It’s good to see people thinking about fixing something rather than throwing it out.”

Along with volunteer coaches, two representatives from Patagonia were there to help repair the brand’s jackets that were brought in.

“We’ve definitely seen an uptake in attendance since we’ve been partnering with Patagonia,” said Mertens. “I think their presence has really helped get the word out.”

Each workshop, each item brought into to be fixed is weighed. After five workshops, about 1,000 pounds of what would be waste has been kept from ending up in a landfill.

“We’re just trying it change the culture little by little as far as reducing the amount of waste that we’re generating,” said Mertens. “This is just one step.”

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or hjones@sierrasun.com.

Former Truckee volleyball player named Big West Player of the Week for third time

Truckee alumna Maia Dvoracek has been making waves on the volleyball court at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

Last week the junior outside hitter was named Big West Conference Player of the Week and the Mechanics Bank Cal Poly Student-Athlete of the Week.

Dvoracek, who led the Wolverines to a 32-0 record during her final two years of high school, has now been named Big West Conference Player of the Week three times this season and Cal Poly Student-Athlete of the Week twice.

Dvoracek leads the Mustangs this season with 261 kills, 45 aces, and is third on the team with 154 digs.

Cal Poly is on an eight game winning streak. The team is 6-0 in conference play and 13-5 overall.

Dvoracek and the Mustangs will next travel to play University of California, Santa Barbara (15-2, 5-1 Big West Conference) on Saturday, Oct. 19.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com.

‘Fall Into Art’ exhibit on display until February in Truckee

Truckee Public Arts Commission’s “Fall into Art” exhibit kicked off on Friday night with pieces inspired by the autumn season.

“The idea of the Fall Into Art is about creating a way that we can celebrate art in our community,” said Cassie Hebel, executive director of the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association. “It doesn’t have to be big events it can be small events and galleries.”

Paintings, sculptures, and replicas of historic Truckee Buildings are placed throughout the hallway at the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Parks District’s Community Recreation Center for the public to view until February 2020. Artists included those featured in the Art & Soul Artwalk with pieces from Arts for the Schools, Trails and Vistas.

The arts commissions hosts three shows a year all with a different theme.

“I think it’s gotten a lot of visibility,” said Sara Smith, of the Truckee Arts Alliance. “A lot of people don’t know what’s here,” she said of the art community in Truckee.

Truckee Art Alliance and the Truckee Chamber of Commerce were all involved in making the show possible.

“These are all the people that are just working tirelessly to create a vibrant, art-filled environment in Truckee because that’s how we sustain our community,” said Hebel.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or hjones@sierrasun.com.

Housing key focus at Tahoe Prosperity Center’s economic summit

Combatting the housing crisis in the Tahoe Basin and the impact of new state housing initiatives were key aspects of the Tahoe Prosperity Center’s annual Economic Summit — an event that hosted housing experts and developers from across the west coast.

“California is particularly a unique challenge and it also has the most money,” said Andrea Clark, vice president of Pacific Companies, the development firm behind the Dollar Creek Crossing project in Tahoe City. Despite the challenges, she said “for the first time California is killing it when it comes to affordable housing finance. There is more money available than ever.”

Within the state’s final $215 billion budget, $2 billion was set aside to help with homelessness and housing needs.

Clark, who has helped develop various affordable housing projects across the west coast, during the Oct. 11 summit emphasized the importance of local jurisdictions taking the lead

“We’re responsible for the individual development, but local jurisdictions can say what their priorities are as a community,” said Clark. “We work in a lot of communities that allows us to do housing development based on zoning code and general plans, but in resort areas it takes more.”

To develop a housing project in the Tahoe Basin, developers have to seek approval not only from a local jurisdiction but the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency as well. Clark suggested that the process be simplified for developers. This could mean an agency like the TRPA lays the groundwork for a project by identifying a site and setting criteria for the developers, then putting it in front of the county for approval.

“So as a developer we would only have to go through one process and not two,” said Clark. “That would be a huge step in the right direction to make things more simple.”

HOUSING NEEDS

According to a Mountain Housing Council study, eastern Placer County needs 1,560 units to accommodate residents in the very low and extremely low income bracket. Additionally, another 250 moderate income units and 614 upper-middle income units are needed.

“We know we’ve got a need in our community today for about 2,000 units of achievable housing,” said Jennifer Merchant, Placer County deputy county executive officer. Those units are required to accommodate residents that are living in substandard or overcrowded housing or overpaying for housing.

In August the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved a new housing development plan to promote the construction of affordable housing.

“They agreed that our goal for housing is to make sure that 10% of the housing that is being built in Placer County is affordable,” Merchant said.

The county must subsidize the development to make it affordable, which will cost it an estimated $2 million annually. Subsidies must either come from a local source or the state.

“That is something our board is committing to,” Merchant said.

Additionally the board set aside $500,000 to pilot projects, including a first-time home buyer program and financing for the construction of second dwelling units.

“That’s an affordable way that current homeowners can develop housing and help solve the problem without having to do a large development that requires more infrastructure,” said Merchant.

On Aug. 30, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 670, created and sponsored by the town of Truckee, which forbids homeowner associations from prohibiting secondary units. The bill will help residents develop more secondary units by eliminating the fees required, Merchant said.

“The fees you have to pay aren’t much different from fees to develop a larger home,” said Merchant. “We do think it’s a sensible way to try to fill some of that gap.”

Housing Underway

Early this month, the county completed the purchase of an 11.4-acre property near Tahoe City to develop the Dollar Creek Crossing housing project. The property located at 3205 and 3225 North Lake Blvd. will be developed by Pacific Companies and Related California, two groups that developed the 77-unit Domus affordable housing project in Kings Beach.

“This long term planning by setting aside publicly owned property and identifying opportunities for development gives us the luxury of planning for what we need today, those 2,000 units, and also serving people for the long term,” said Merchant.

In the early stages of planning the developers proposed a total of 206 units, including 192 apartments of various sizes and 14 single-family homes with a community building. They emphasized that it is not a final proposal.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or hjones@sierrasun.com.

Smoke from Caples Fire lingering at Lake Tahoe, but forest service expects containment this week

Smoke from the Caples Fire continues to linger at Lake Tahoe Sunday although the blaze was mostly quiet overnight.

The Eldorado National Forest reported Sunday that the prescribed burn-turned-wildfire in the Kirkwood area is at 2,885 acres and 35% contained. It remains within the boundaries of a burn project that began Sept. 30 with pile burning.

The forest service said fire activity could increase this afternoon as the temperature warms.

But with 572 total personnel fighting the blaze, including 26 engines, 17 crews, five water tenders, three helicopters and two dozers, the forest service said on its incident web page that Friday, Oct. 18, is the approximated estimated containment date.

While the smoke hangs around, the forest service encourages “smoke sensitive individuals” to limit their exposure by avoiding smoky areas, closing windows, or staying indoors.

The National Weather Service is forecasting widespread haze throughout the region until later in the evening when it becomes mostly clear with temperatures dropping in the 20s.

A 5 to 10 mph west/southwest wind may also help firefighting efforts according to the forest service.

“The natural wind patterns from the west/southwest are good for suppression actions,” said the report. “Temperatures are moderate during the day and the relative humidity is low. Night time temperatures are near freezing with light winds …”

Due to fire operations in the area, the forest service is asking hikers and hunters to avoid the  Silver Fork/Caples Creek area. Roads are blocked at the following intersection: Packsaddle Pass and Silver Fork Road; Packsaddle Pass and 11N19; Mormon Emigrant Trail and Silver Fork Road; Martin Meadows, Margaret and Shealor Lake Trailheads and Schneider Camp. 

The forest service started the burn project late last month following rain and snowstorms and the prescribed fire was within “prescription and achieving the goals of the project of reducing fuels loading and create vegetation conditions that allow fires to burn with lower intensities and create defensible space.” 

The report said, once the red flag warning for the wind event was forecasted, fire managers began building fire line and conducting firing operations to secure and strengthen the fire perimeter before the wind arrived. The containment lines held well through the wind event into Thursday morning when the winds changed direction pushing the fire farther to the south and west and increasing the fire activity.

The increased activity forced the forest to declare a wildfire to obtain additional resources from partners like Cal Fire, the report said.

The Tahoe Daily Tribune is a sister publication of the Sierra Sun.

Fixit Clinic at Truckee Roundhouse encourages sustainability

Keep Truckee Green and Truckee Roundhouse are hosting a Fixit Clinic 5-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15 at the Truckee Roundhouse. Fixit Clinics are repair events intended to keep broken items from landfill and promote self-repair.

Participants can bring in broken household items and get help repairing them from volunteer “Fixit Coaches.” Previous Fixit Clinics have seen everything from clothing, textiles, outdoor gear, electronics, wood, and metal furniture be restored with a second life.

Repair is a sustainable act that encourages waste reduction by reusing resources at hand rather than purchasing new. Even if the repair is unsuccessful, participants can leave Fixit Clinics empowered to tinker with and take apart their own gadgets at home. The repair process uses people’s broken items as a vehicle to share skills, connect people and things, and promote sustainable living.

This is a free event an all tools and supplies are provided by the Truckee Roundhouse. All ages are welcome to attend. The Truckee Roundhouse is located at 12116 Chandelle Way, Suite E3, located next to Tahoe Food Hub in the Truckee Airport hangars. For more information or to volunteer as a Fixit Coach, visit keeptruckeegreen.org.

— Submitted to the Sierra Sun

‘Unlocking the Mystery of Coffee’ at Mountain Minds Monday

Tahoe Silicon Mountain, a local network of entrepreneurs and professionals, will host Scott Coleman, David Wilson and Gale Klenk, who will enlighten Tahoe Silicon Mountain on the “Mystery of Coffee.”

The panel will discuss sourcing and picking of the bean thorough the roasting process, to the delivery of the final product. They will also discuss how they provide opportunity for coffee producers who otherwise, might not have access to the USA market. The format will be a panel discussion with a period of prepared questions, and then time for questions from the audience.

Klenk is the founder of Sierra Pacific Coffer Roasters and head roaster for Sierra Pacific Coffee Roasters and Twisted Tree Coffee Roasters, Wilson is director of coffee at Coffeebar, and Coleman is the co-owner Glory Cloud Coffee.

Mountain Minds Monday is set for 6-8 p.m. Oct. 14 at Pizza on the Hill in Tahoe Donner, 11509 Northwoods Blvd., Truckee. Dinner will be available on a pay-what-you-can model ($5 minimum). Before and after the presentation, there will be time for networking.

Visit TahoeSiliconMountian.com for information.

Tahoe League for Charity presents community grants

The Tahoe League for Charity presented its 2019 grants during a September meeting to the following nonprofits:

Coralin Glerum represented Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care. She reported that the organization has a new rehabilitation center for rescued animals in South Lake Tahoe on Al Tahoe Boulevard. It is a 27-acre facility with 14 buildings housing anything from hummingbirds to bears that have been injured. The grant will be used for medical and dental services for these animals.

Meri McEneny represented American Association of University Women received our grant supporting one Tech Trek middle school student to attend a math and science camp at the UC Davis campus next summer. This is the 21st year that AAUW has participated in the Tech Trek program and to date, has sent 110 eighth grade girls to participate in programs that empowers and encourages them to think about themselves as future scientists.

Allen Marshall represented Meals on Wheels, a program for seniors under the auspices of Sierra Senior Services in the Truckee Tahoe area. This program enriches the lives of older adults in our community. They are committed to helping seniors maintain their independence by providing nutritious food, human connections and social support. Sierra Senior Services is maintained by donations, federal and county funding. There are 50 to 60 volunteers that drive and deliver 33,000 meals a year in the Truckee/Tahoe area. The grant will provide gas for six vehicles for three months, providing 8,000 meals in that time period.

Anibal Cardova-Sosa, director of family support and family engagement represented Sierra Community House. Four long-standing service organizations — the Family Resource Center of Truckee, North Tahoe Family Resource Center, Tahoe SAFE Alliance, and Project MANA — have united to form the Sierra Community House. This alliance empowers our community through family strengthening, crisis intervention, hunger relief, access to therapy and legal services. The grant awarded to this organization will specifically provide funds to the “Parenting Program” which holds group discussion sessions designed to help prevent child abuse while strengthening and integrating families within the local community.

Alice Hampton accepted our grant representing the Tahoe Rim Trail Association. Their emphasis is to act as stewards to the 165-mile loop-trail around the Tahoe basin. This organization has grown from a trail-building and maintenance organization to providing trail education programs aimed to teach trail users how to sustainably recreate and inspire the next generation of trail responsibility. The Tahoe Rim Trail is one of the most iconic and beautiful long-distance recreation trails in the world. It is open to hiking, equestrians, with designated areas relegated to mountain biking. The grant presented to this organization will specifically fund a backcountry youth program that provides two groups, ages 9 through 12 and 13 through 16, with their first three-day backpacking adventure.

A grant was issued by mail to Wiley Animal Rescue Foundation to fund neuter and spay services for the pets of low income families. A second grant was issued by mail to the organization “Girls on the Run” that will fund two 8-to-13-year-old girls in a program that teaches life skill lessons with a fun, experience-based curriculum creatively integrating running games.

The mission for Tahoe League for Charity’s grants is to do the most good for the most people and animals with an emphasis on children.

The League’s $20 luncheon meetings are open to the public by reservation only. Contact morton@jutland.com. The next meeting is 11:30 a.m. Oct. 14. Guest speaker will be Rich Holman speaking on Artificial Intelligence.” Visit tahoeleagueforcharity.org for more information.

Lake Tahoe Basin and El Dorado County roadwork schedule Oct. 13-19, 2019

LONG-TERM PROJECTS

State Route 89 (Placer County): Work continues on a $35 million project in Tahoe City to build a new Truckee River bridge east of the Caltrans Maintenance Yard with roundabouts on either end of the realignment, drainage improvements, paving and a shared-use path connection. For more information, visit: www.fannybridge.org

State Route 89 (Placer County) from just north of Granlibakken Road to the Caltrans Tahoe City Maintenance Yard: Motorists can expect one-way traffic control from 10 p.m. Sunday to noon Monday and 5 p.m. to noon Monday through Friday for highway construction work.

U.S. Highway 50 (El Dorado County): Work continues on a $5.2 million project to upgrade metal beam guardrail and construct concrete barriers at 89 locations from the Red Hawk Undercrossing to 1.9 miles west of the junction with State Route 89 in Meyers. Completion is expected this fall or spring 2020.

U.S. Highway 50 (El Dorado County) from Ice House Road to Camp Sacramento: Motorists can expect one-way traffic control at various locations from 6 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 p.m. Thursday to noon Friday for guardrail replacement work.

U.S. Highway 50 (El Dorado County): Work continues on a $4.7 million project to install drainage sand traps and maintenance vehicle pullouts at various locations on U.S. Highway 50 from Riverton (Ice House Road) to Kyburz. Completion is expected this fall.

U.S. Highway 50 (El Dorado County) from Bridal Veil Falls to Silver Fork Road in Kyburz: Motorists can expect one-way traffic control at various locations from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday for drainage work. 

U.S. Highway 50 (El Dorado County): Work continues on a $14.1 million project to replace the Echo Summit Sidehill Viaduct, located 7 miles west of South Lake Tahoe. This project is replacing the current bridge, built in 1939, with a new structure to meet current design and safety standards. Completion is expected in fall of 2020. For more information, visit way2tahoe.com

U.S. Highway 50 (El Dorado County) from the Caltrans Echo Summit Maintenance Yard to Johnson Pass Road (east end): Motorists can expect one-way traffic control from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday for bridge work. 

U.S. Highway 50 and State Route 89 (El Dorado County): Work is wrapping up on a $7.3 million project to convert the existing “T” intersection of U.S. Highway 50 and State Route 89 in Meyers into a three-legged roundabout with a westbound bypass lane and a bike path extension. This project will reduce the number and/or severity of collisions at the intersection. The roundabout is open to traffic and no traffic-interfering work is scheduled.

U.S. Highway 50 (El Dorado County): Work continues on a $57 million project from the “Y” intersection at State Route 89 to the Trout Creek Bridge in South Lake Tahoe. This project is building new drainage systems to collect and treat stormwater runoff, rebuilding curbs, gutters and sidewalks, widening the highway to allow for bike lanes and resurfacing the roadway. Completion is expected this fall.         

U.S. Highway 50 (El Dorado County) from B Street to the Trout Creek Bridge: Motorists can expect lane restrictions and shoulder closures at various locations around the clock from 12:01 a.m. Monday to 11 a.m. Friday for pavement grinding and paving work and striping.

State Route 193 (El Dorado County): Work continues on a $6.1 million project to build retaining walls at two locations on SR-193 between Kelsey Road and Rock Creek Road and to install medal beam guardrail. Construction is being done behind k-rail with a signal in operation 24/7 through November for reversing one-way traffic control. 

SHORT-TERM PROJECTS

State Route 89 (Placer County) from Elizabeth Drive to Sugar Pine Road: Motorists can expect one-way traffic control from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday for utility work. 

State Route 267 (Placer County) from Airport Road/Schaffer Mill to Stewart Way: Motorists can expect intermittent one-way traffic control at various locations from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday for miscellaneous maintenance work.

U.S. Highway 50 (El Dorado County) from Elks Club Drive to Sawmill Road: Motorists can expect one-way traffic control from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursdayfor paving work and bridge repair work.

U.S. Highway 50 (El Dorado County) at C Street: Eastbound motorists can expect the #2 lane and right shoulder closed from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday for utility work. 

Unexpected schedule changes may occur. For current information on roadwork, delays, road conditions and emergency closures, call the voice-activated Caltrans Highway Information Network (CHIN) at 1-800-427-7623 (ROAD) or visit Caltrans’ “QuickMap” website at: http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/

Source: Caltrans