| SierraSun.com

Pandemic invites ‘weekend warriors’ to live their best lives at Truckee Tahoe

The physical landscape of the American worker has changed significantly due to coronavirus.

While many permanent Truckee residents risk their health to provide essential services, others, namely those employed by the tourism industry, are out of work entirely. Some companies have altered their policies and updated virtual platforms to enable their employees to work remote.

For beneficiaries of the latter, North Lake Tahoe may become more than a vacation destination.

Alison Elder, one of four real estate agents at Elder Group Tahoe working under the brokerage Engel & Zölkers, said the shift in workplace dynamic has given people more freedom to live their best life without sacrificing their city salaries.

“With such large organizations — Twitter, etc. — saying don’t ever come back, people have more flexibility on how and where they want to live,” Elder said, referring to Twitter’s announcement that its employees can work remotely indefinitely. “They don’t need to be in Menlo Park or Los Gatos. They can be wherever they want as long as there is connectivity.”

Elder, who once served the real estate needs of Silicon Valley, said people in the Bay Area have been pent up during the pandemic.

“There’s not a lot of room to breathe, if you will,” Elder said, adding Truckee’s access to the outdoors combined with its robust health-care system make an attractive option to metropolitans contemplating moving to a mountain town.

City dwellers have the option to live the dream they are normally a weekend warrior for, Elder said, and they are coming in droves.

“This past week was the largest volume of new escrows I’ve handled in my 20-year career here,” Elder said.

Elder said she recently brokered the sale of a house that received 15 offers on a $875,000 property.

“That, in our market, is unheard of,” Elder said. “There’s a huge, pent-up buyer demand. That demand has gobbled up inventory here.”

Although market prices have remained fairly stable, multiple offers on record low inventory may drive the prices higher, said Val Videgain of Coldwell Banker Realty. Low inventory is typical for the season, he said, but homeowners may be disinclined to sell given potential exposure to COVID-19 and the pandemic’s tempestuous economy.

Videgain also noticed the increased interest from urban families as tech company employees embrace the upside of their new normal.

“I don’t think the trend is specific to Truckee-Tahoe,” Videgain said. “It’s a lot of mountain communities, rural communities that are feeling the expanse of urban environment.”

Videgain said the local market is relatively small when compared to Auburn or western Nevada County. Because of that, even the addition of 500 people from the Bay Area would make a big difference in the community.

Truckee’s history with Affordable Housing

At present, over 50% of Truckee homes are unoccupied, said Jenna Gatto, Truckee’s planning manager.

“If you can imagine over half of the units in Truckee are not being lived in,” Gatto explained, “that fundamentally explains why we are where we are.”

Gatto said the high vacancy level is a main factor in Truckee’s struggle with housing affordability. She said second homeowners with more disposable income have historically driven up the cost of living for those who live — and work — permanently in the area.

Gatto said the issue is longstanding, but was exacerbated in the early 2000s by the dot-com boom which took place a convenient, three-hour drive from Truckee.

The longstanding tension between the region’s growing income inequality and available housing options has been partly addressed by two pieces of regulation the Town of Truckee imposes on market rate housing, Gatto said.

The inclusion housing ordinance requires that any time someone builds a market-rate subdivision, a portion of those units must be made affordable to lower rate households, Gatto said.

The workforce housing ordinance, as described by Truckee’s Municipal Code, requires that any time anyone develops a commercial or industrial complex they must also construct or contribute financially to the construction of workforce housing units that meet their particular workforces’ needs.

Gatto said these ordinances are meant to create a hospitable environment for all of Truckee, regardless of occupation.

“We have a wide range of earners,” Gatto said. “The service-based and tourism-based industry offers low wages, resort wages. We also have high-wage earners who make triple digits and beyond.”

Because of that, it’s hard to characterize the typical Truckee family, Gatto said.

“We have a lot of families with one income,” Gatto said. “We also have folks who have multiple jobs.”

Gatto said the Town of Truckee perceives available and affordable housing as a community health issue. She also said having low-income workers nearby also alleviates climate change by minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.

“We want people who work in Truckee to be able to live in Truckee if they want to,” Gatto explained. “It’s a quality of life issue — the amount of time people commute to and from jobs, how much time they can spend with themselves, their families, in the outdoors, recreating.”

The Mountain Housing Council of Tahoe Truckee was created with those needs in mind, said Stacy Caldwell, the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation CEO.

“We pulled together all these institutions — realtors, the Chamber of Commerce, a handful of nonprofits — and dedicated ourselves to a three-year initiative to accelerate housing for our local community,” Caldwell said.

The first iteration of the Council, concluded this year but was approved and financed by the Town Council mid-April to relaunch on July 17.

The 2.0 version will continue to consider Council’s goals, set long before the pandemic, while taking into account the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the region’s workforce, Caldwell said.

Caldwell said efforts to provide housing have only grown more comprehensive since the council was formed.

“Three years later, the amount of institutions that have housing on their agenda now is impressive,” Caldwell said, citing the formation of the Truckee Tahoe Workforce Housing Agency, a Joint Powers Authority comprised of Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, Tahoe Forest Hospital District, Truckee Tahoe Airport District and Truckee Donner Public Utility District.

Gatto said although no affordable housing projects have been approved since, 193 affordable units were already underway at onset of the pandemic.

Of the three projects contributing to that, Gatto is particularly excited by the 77 units made available by a project in the Railyard Master Plan area in downtown called the Artist Lofts.

Entrepreneurs Kai and Colin Frolich received seed money from the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation to launch Landing Locals, a start-up focused on helping locals find housing, that’s now spread to other states and resort towns.

Caldwell said development, vertical or horizontal, will be an essential part of meeting the region’s ever-growing housing needs.

“Community planners, development folks like me know that a thriving ecosystem has biodiversity,” Caldwell said of Truckee officials’ concern for its low-wage earners. “The same goes for the economy.

MORE IN THIS SERIES

Pandemic invites ‘weekend warriors’ to live their best lives at Truckee Tahoe

Truckee, Tahoe seniors talk about their missing semester and what’s next

Minding the gap: Tahoe Truckee Unified Schools help students, families connect for distance learning

Lost summer? COVID-19 crisis leaves Truckee, Tahoe events in limbo, if not already canceled

Shifting gears: With marquee Tahoe events canceled, organizers look to salvage season

As restrictions ease, nonprofits get to work

Tahoe-Truckee strong: Community supports struggling nonprofits while pondering ‘When will this all end?’

Court in (modified) session: Nevada County Superior Court set to return to Truckee with change in approach

Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

‘Poking the bear’: Tahoe’s North Shore supervisor stands against colleague’s threat to sue governor

Tahoe region dentists forced to adjust operations amid COVID-19

Truckee, Tahoe health-care providers pivot to new approaches amid pandemic

Increase in tests propels California into Stage 2

From my computer to yours – Namaste: Tahoe yoga studios shift to online practice

Dealing with ‘a sense of uncertainty’: Officials concerned about Truckee’s health and well-being through traumatic times

Nevada County not planning to release more detailed case data

‘Take this seriously’: Tahoe’s essential businesses share what they’ve learned with those yet to reopen

The future of Tahoe travel: Airport ‘ghost town’ expects long route back to normal

Rising demand in Tahoe region real estate out of COVID-19 shutdown

Truckee moves into Stage 2, economic impacts still uncertain

Determining the depth: Placer County measures COVID-19’s hit to budget

Town of Truckee officials eye short-term budget plans amid COVID-19

Businesses struggle navigating economic relief

Food service industry, grocery stores adopt local solutions to sustain operations, nourish Truckee

INVESTIGATING THE IMPACT: Truckee, Tahoe lean on small business as backbone of economy amid coronavirus crisis

RELATED RESOURCES

www.SierraSun.com/coronavirus

www.MyNevadaCounty.com/coronavirus

Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

Rebecca O’Neil is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to the Sierra Sun.

Truckee, Tahoe seniors talk about their missing semester and what’s next

This week many of the Truckee-Tahoe area’s seniors will conclude years of work by accepting diplomas, tossing caps into the sky, and celebrating with loved ones.

Graduations at Truckee, North Tahoe, and Sierra high schools, however, will be markedly different than in years past as the 2020 class closes the year with virtual ceremonies and drive-thru graduations.

Though many of the final moments of high school like prom, spring sports, and a traditional graduation have been lost to the class of 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19, several of the area’s seniors shared memories of their time in high school and gave messages to fellow classmates on moving on.

Fernando (Chuy) Estrada

North Tahoe High School Associated Student Body president

Q: What departing message would you like to give fellow seniors?

A: To my fellow seniors, fellow men and women of inspiration and success, thank you all, for all you have taught me. Thank you for being the most diverse, influential and prestigious little family. It’s truly difficult to imagine the next chapter without all of you there. Regardless, you’ll be with me always. Stay groovy, guys. You all deserve THE WORLD. Congrats class of 2020!!

Q: What’s your fondest high school memory?

A: I made too many memories in high school that I adore with sentiment and tenderness. However, one memory that I will remember with passion is the first and only football game under a Friday’s night lights. I remember the bleachers being so full that people had to actually stand on the track lanes. I remember the blood, sweat and tears I left on the field that day. ’Til this day, I reminisce the seasons full of laughter, the victories and losses, my stinky teammates and amazing coaches who have helped shaped me into the person I am today.

Q: What event from the spring semester were you most disappointed about not being able to take part in?

A: I am super bummed out that our graduation ceremony could not go as planned. I feel like it was stolen from one of the most important memories in my life … All this effort, and amazing moments in high school, to not walk the stage? It should be impossible, but it is what it is. I really hope that we get to have our live graduation in August, because it means more than just the diploma and the stage. It signifies the end, and the beginning, and the accomplishments, and the long-lasting relationships with everyone I encountered in that building.

Q: What are your plans/goals after graduating?

A: I plan to attend UC Santa Cruz in the fall! I am super excited to become a Banana Slug who studies in the field of physical and biological sciences (human biology). I will become part of the Class of 2024. Honestly, I plan to go on new adventures and experiences and hope to learn and build more long-lasting relationships.

Megan Darzynkieweicz

Truckee High School valedictorian

Q: What departing message would you like to give fellow seniors?

A: Don’t give up. Don’t let what the world throws at you knock you down. You are capable of so much, so don’t let anyone or anything keep you from reaching your potential.

Q: What’s your fondest high school memory?

A: Getting up in front of the students at a football game and calling a cheer. Creating and being a part of Truckee High’s student section was the highlight of my high school experience and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Q: What event from the spring semester were you most disappointed about not being able to take part in?

A: I was really bummed that my senior musical got canceled. It was the first time I was going to perform on Truckee’s stage, and I’m super sad I won’t have the chance.

Q: What are your plans/goals after graduating?

A: I will be attending the University of California Berkeley and studying theater and political science.

Skyler Kawecki-Muonio

North Tahoe Associated Student Body vice president

Q: What departing message would you like to give fellow seniors?

A: To my fellow seniors, I would like to thank you for an incredible high school experience! I am grateful to have known all of you and thank you for your contribution to our Laker family. Our accomplishments at North Tahoe are a great reflection of how successful our class is going to be. Thank you for creating such a spirited, caring and accomplished North Tahoe Community.

Q: What’s your fondest high school memory?

A: My favorite memory at North Tahoe was winning our annual Halloween hallway decorating competition our junior year. The seniors were so determined to beat us, but we took the victory for the second time in a row. I still get chills remembering our hallway decoration and creepy performance, where we had trombones play “Ring Around the Rosie” and then had the entire class join in a chilling harmony.

Q: What event from the spring semester were you most disappointed about not being able to take part in?

A: The event I was most disappointed to miss was my tour for jazz band. During our tour for jazz band we choreograph moves with our instruments and perform for elementary schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, and care facilities. We play for two days and also get to participate in fun activities. This year we were going to see “Hamilton!” It is so heartwarming to see people’s reaction when you play for them and it is so fun to hang out with all my band friends for the weekend!

Q: What are your plans/goals after graduating?

A: Next year I am planning to attend Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York. I will be studying pre-med and playing volleyball. Go Gryphons!

Kylee Beck

Truckee High School senior

Q: What departing message would you like to give fellow seniors?

A: A message I would like to give to my fellow seniors is although this is not how we expected our senior year to end, we made it. The class of 2020 will always be unforgettable because of all the hardworking, amazing kids it had in it. I would like to thank each and every one of you for all the memories, laughs, and friendships I built throughout my years at Truckee High School.

Q: What’s your fondest high school memory?

A: I would have to say my fondest high school memory was being a part of the girls’ varsity Truckee Soccer Team. I was able to make incredible friendships and learn the importance of teamwork throughout each of my four years on the team. I also helped bring home three state title victories for Truckee High School. It was an experience I will carry with me very close to my heart as I go through my next endeavors in life.

Q: What event from the spring semester were you most disappointed about not being able to take part in?

A: The event I am most sad I will not be able to take part in is graduation and our senior grad trip. I have dreamt about the day I would get to throw my cap in the air as a last hoorah, sitting in Surprise Stadium, amongst the kids I have known since elementary school. Hopefully, we will be able to take part in an in person ceremony on Aug. 1. I also want to shout out all the dedicated staff and parents working hard to make this happen for us, you guys are awesome!

Q: What are your plans/goals after graduating?

A: After graduating I will be attending the honors program at Chapman University in the fall of 2020 majoring in health sciences on the pre-med track. My future aspirations are to one day be a doctor so that I am able to help and care for people on a daily basis. I have wanted to be a doctor since the first grade so I am ecstatic that I will finally be able to start working towards that dream.

Eva Baffone

North Tahoe High School senior

Q: What departing message would you like to give fellow seniors?

A: To the class of 2020, we have all worked so hard to come to this moment. Our circumstances do not diminish our accomplishments and our hard work. This senior class will be able to move mountains because we have been through so much, that anything else that could possibly come our way will seem like nothing. Wherever you may go, never forget all you pushed through in 2020. 


Q: What’s your fondest high school memory?

A: Wow there are so many! My fondest high school memory, though, was going to New York with the band class my sophomore year. Great group of kids and an amazing teacher! Definitely an experience I’ll never forget!

Q: What event from the spring semester were you most disappointed about not being able to take part in?

a: I was most disappointed about prom. I was so excited because it was my senior year and I had a great dress and great friends to go with. It is sad because my parents had talked about their senior prom and this is just another thing I won’t be able to relate with them about.

I was also really sad about missing the spring concert for our band program. Every year Mr. Nordby makes it really special for seniors and we say goodbye to him and the program at this concert. We still did awards online, but it’s not the same.

Q: What are your plans / goals after graduating?

A: Next year I will be moving to San Diego and majoring in theater arts at Grossmont Community College. I hope in the future to further my music career. I love writing songs and creating music. I have already started on my music career in releasing an album called “Dreamland” on June 12. I hope to keep writing music and inspire others to follow their passions.

Graduation info

Several seniors from charter schools and college preparatory academies have already had their graduations. Students attending schools in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District began graduation ceremonies this week.

North Tahoe began festivities on Wednesday with virtual senior awards. The Lakers then had a drive-thru ceremony at the school on Thursday, followed by a virtual graduation later that afternoon.

Sierra High School will hold its virtual ceremony at 11 a.m. today.

Truckee High School will host its virtual ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Links to view graduation ceremonies can be found at www.ttusd.org.

The school district has also tentatively scheduled in-person ceremonies for August. Truckee seniors would have a more formal graduation on Aug. 1, Sierra High School seniors would be on Aug. 3, and North Tahoe would be Aug. 4.

MORE IN THIS SERIES

Pandemic invites ‘weekend warriors’ to live their best lives at Truckee Tahoe

Truckee, Tahoe seniors talk about their missing semester and what’s next

Minding the gap: Tahoe Truckee Unified Schools help students, families connect for distance learning

Lost summer? COVID-19 crisis leaves Truckee, Tahoe events in limbo, if not already canceled

Shifting gears: With marquee Tahoe events canceled, organizers look to salvage season

As restrictions ease, nonprofits get to work

Tahoe-Truckee strong: Community supports struggling nonprofits while pondering ‘When will this all end?’

Court in (modified) session: Nevada County Superior Court set to return to Truckee with change in approach

Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

‘Poking the bear’: Tahoe’s North Shore supervisor stands against colleague’s threat to sue governor

Tahoe region dentists forced to adjust operations amid COVID-19

Truckee, Tahoe health-care providers pivot to new approaches amid pandemic

Increase in tests propels California into Stage 2

From my computer to yours – Namaste: Tahoe yoga studios shift to online practice

Dealing with ‘a sense of uncertainty’: Officials concerned about Truckee’s health and well-being through traumatic times

Nevada County not planning to release more detailed case data

‘Take this seriously’: Tahoe’s essential businesses share what they’ve learned with those yet to reopen

The future of Tahoe travel: Airport ‘ghost town’ expects long route back to normal

Rising demand in Tahoe region real estate out of COVID-19 shutdown

Truckee moves into Stage 2, economic impacts still uncertain

Determining the depth: Placer County measures COVID-19’s hit to budget

Town of Truckee officials eye short-term budget plans amid COVID-19

Businesses struggle navigating economic relief

Food service industry, grocery stores adopt local solutions to sustain operations, nourish Truckee

INVESTIGATING THE IMPACT: Truckee, Tahoe lean on small business as backbone of economy amid coronavirus crisis

RELATED RESOURCES

www.SierraSun.com/coronavirus

www.MyNevadaCounty.com/coronavirus

Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

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

Minding the gap: Tahoe Truckee Unified Schools help students, families connect for distance learning

As schools grapple with the sudden shift to distance learning created by coronavirus, they face a critical resource gap necessary to provide free public education — internet access.

According to Gov. Gavin Newsom, California’s “Digital Divide,” one in five students do not have high-speed internet or a digital device at home. A parent survey distributed by the state in early April indicates a ratio exacerbated in low-income families and families of color.

Ed Hilton, director of technology and information services, said the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District has defied those statistics to undermine the social inequities that follow.

“Anyone who wants a connection,” Hilton stressed, “has a connection.”

So far, that’s meant the district has made approximately 100 broadband connections via DSL or hotspot, and distributed 4,000 Chromebooks to its students in elementary, middle and high schools. This, in a district where 40% of the households are socioeconomically disadvantaged, Hilton said.

“Our community wraps around our youth like no other community I’ve seen,” said Valerie Simpson, the district’s executive director of educational services. “The commitment is so apparent.”

Following the March 13 school closures, administrators and staff flexed into unprecedented responsibilities to provide comprehensive outreach to students, Simpson said. In the week that followed, district teachers connected with families via phone or email to prepare some semblance of a virtual classroom. If teachers were unable to make contact, administrators conducted home visits to make sure the child and family were OK, and had the tools necessary.

Hilton said before the pandemic, the district was aware that 1% of its student body lacked an in-home web connection.

“We knew 40 kids or families were without access to the internet and had that in mind going into distance learning,” he said. “That was our baseline, but it actually ended up higher than that.”

Between AT&T or T-Mobile hotspots and wired connections, Hilton and his office ultimately equipped 100 students with a broadband connection they previously lacked. The arrangements vary depending on where families live in the North Lake Tahoe region, Hilton said, but most took advantage of permanent service providers’ Covid-inspired generosity.

“We do have people in the community who cannot get internet wired in their house — even if they wanted to,” Hilton said. “We prioritized hotspots for those families.”

Meanwhile, Altice-Charter offered new subscribers signing up for broadband free service through June.

Hilton purchased 25 hotspots right away from T-Mobile, then TTUSD received 25 more through the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Broadband in Schools Initiative which distributed a total of $30 million statewide to support students’ connectivity.

“Those ship next week,” Hilton said. “If we had waited for California to act, there would have been families who wouldn’t have had access this whole time.”

Long term, the district is considering all iterations of a hybridized classroom this fall, Hilton said. That means reckoning with the financial realities of families whose breadwinners remain unemployed.

“That’s something we need to discuss — what happens after, if parents contact us in the fall and say ‘I couldn’t pay?’” Hilton said. “We have to do something, whether it’s something we do as a school district or activism, to make sure that our providers are serving our communities in a way that’s equitable.”

FAMILY CONNECTIONS

Beyond its connection to classroom education, the technology is integral to sustaining valuable social connections between the school district and families. Simpson said at this point, the district is concerned with far more than its students’ education.

“The role of a community agency during a pandemic is to make sure families’ and students’ basic needs are being met,” Simpson said. “As far as school goes, it offers structure and routine.”

Volunteers have prepared more than 100,000 meals to date district-wide, Tahoe Lake Elementary’s school psychologist continues to provide one-on-one virtual sessions with students, Principal Stephanie Foucek said.

“Social emotional wellbeing is a very large priority in our whole district,” Foucek said. “Our school counselor has started a support group on how to support your child.”

The additional support is useful, because parents are needed more than ever to facilitate education in the home, Simpson said, a task not all of them are prepared for.

“It’s been a huge adjustment for everybody,”she added. “All parents are doing the best they can for their children. Coming from that premise alone, it’s really about how we partner with them to make sure they have what they need to support their child in education.”

Teachers are providing curbside pickup for learning materials like books, construction paper and science equipment, to enrich the at-home learning experience. The situation has provided an opportunity to strengthen bonds between parents and their children’s education.

“When you do teach virtually you are in the child’s home,” Foucek said. “The parent is sitting right there at the computer watching, so they’re part of the learning.”

Although the district does not judge parents’ varied capacities, Simpson said it is quick to offer support via home visits.

“Even if the family has a high level of education, they may not be familiar with certain educational strategies,” Simpson said. “We don’t place unrealistic expectations upon families.”

CURRICULUM & ACCOUNTABILITY

Tahoe Truckee Unified and the state’s education department, has made sure students are not punished for difficulties faced while transitioning to online education.

“The accountability part can be a bit challenging, because the state asked us to make sure we didn’t harm the kids,” Simpson said.

“This isn’t their fault — we’re not going to ding them for this.”

According to Simpson, high school teachers agreed that no student would fail this year unless they went into distance learning with an F already. For the rest of the students, their grades will be determined by their performance prior to and during distance learning.

“It really comes down to the relationship that teachers and students have with each other,” Simpson said.

The situation has provided an opportunity for teachers to fine tune the focus of their curriculum.

“We’ve been moving towards how to teach students to critically think, to collaborate with one another,” Simpson said. “In some ways, distance learning has created a space for teachers and learners to experiment or participate even more in that.”

Foucek said after two days of professional development where teachers were introduced to the technological platforms necessary to support students virtually, they put their “noses to the grindstone” to adapt core curriculum right away.

“Our curriculum comes from California state standards, so they’re pretty much set,” Simpson said. “There’s way more than you can cover in a school year.”

Simpson said teachers’ and students’ time must be used intentionally to focus on “essentials” given the mass of material combined with the digital platform’s limited capacity.

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES

As the teachers think critically about adapting integral information for their students’ development, renovated lesson plans come up against a new infrastructural obstacle.

Suddenlink/Altice capped bandwidth in the Truckee area, Hilton said, meaning that for some, unlimited data plans are not an option.

“Our teachers were forced to stay at home by the order from the governor, and many of them had regular internet service,” Hilton said.

Now, classroom interruptions come from Suddenlink/Altice, instead of the class clown. In a letter dated late April to the service provider, Hilton explained how interrupting instruction with splash pages poses a problem for educators trying to meet the academic and mental needs of students during Covid-19. The additional charges on monthly bills “add insult to injury,” Hilton said.

“All customers are responsible for knowing their plan limits,” Altice’s corporate executive customer relations representative replied, and recommended teachers contact Suddenlink to have their account options reviewed.

Hilton is working with the Town of Truckee’s clerk to examine and reconsider the district’s franchise agreement with Suddenlink/Altice. In the meantime, TTUSD is incurring each of the incremented $15 overcharge fees.

“If you ask me, I would love for internet to be a public utility,” said Hilton, who began working for TTUSD in 2005 as a math and science high school teacher. “It needs to be provided to every person along with gas, heat, water, housing.”

Technology cannot replace a teacher, Hilton said, but must be embraced as an integral part of 21st century education.

Hilton said although the future is unknown, TTUSD is equipped for whatever hybridized version of remote to in-person learning may take place in the fall.

“This crucible of a new experience has provided us with perspective,” Hilton said. “We’ve made a few mistakes, we’ve run into problems, but we’re prepared for whatever comes.”

“Tahoe is a great community,” Hilton said. “I think our district is modeling for our kids what it means to collaborate and problem solve.

MORE IN THIS SERIES

Pandemic invites ‘weekend warriors’ to live their best lives at Truckee Tahoe

Truckee, Tahoe seniors talk about their missing semester and what’s next

Minding the gap: Tahoe Truckee Unified Schools help students, families connect for distance learning

Lost summer? COVID-19 crisis leaves Truckee, Tahoe events in limbo, if not already canceled

Shifting gears: With marquee Tahoe events canceled, organizers look to salvage season

As restrictions ease, nonprofits get to work

Tahoe-Truckee strong: Community supports struggling nonprofits while pondering ‘When will this all end?’

Court in (modified) session: Nevada County Superior Court set to return to Truckee with change in approach

Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

‘Poking the bear’: Tahoe’s North Shore supervisor stands against colleague’s threat to sue governor

Tahoe region dentists forced to adjust operations amid COVID-19

Truckee, Tahoe health-care providers pivot to new approaches amid pandemic

Increase in tests propels California into Stage 2

From my computer to yours – Namaste: Tahoe yoga studios shift to online practice

Dealing with ‘a sense of uncertainty’: Officials concerned about Truckee’s health and well-being through traumatic times

Nevada County not planning to release more detailed case data

‘Take this seriously’: Tahoe’s essential businesses share what they’ve learned with those yet to reopen

The future of Tahoe travel: Airport ‘ghost town’ expects long route back to normal

Rising demand in Tahoe region real estate out of COVID-19 shutdown

Truckee moves into Stage 2, economic impacts still uncertain

Determining the depth: Placer County measures COVID-19’s hit to budget

Town of Truckee officials eye short-term budget plans amid COVID-19

Businesses struggle navigating economic relief

Food service industry, grocery stores adopt local solutions to sustain operations, nourish Truckee

INVESTIGATING THE IMPACT: Truckee, Tahoe lean on small business as backbone of economy amid coronavirus crisis

RELATED RESOURCES

www.SierraSun.com/coronavirus

www.MyNevadaCounty.com/coronavirus

Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

Rebecca O’Neil is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact her at roneil@sierrasun.com.

Tahoe region dentists forced to adjust operations amid COVID-19

A trip to the dentist can raise questions you wish you didn’t have, such as, you found a new problem? And, will this go away on its own?

Dental appointments can pose some degree of threat to everyone in the room, as is apparent in the precautions dentists and hygienists take in case you (or they) might be sick.

Covid-19 is ushering in a host of new practices, some of which will take a bit of getting used to, said dentist Robert Rutner, owner of Sierra Tahoe Dental. “Certainly, the style of dental offices is going to change,” he said.

Waiting rooms; treatment rooms; indoor ventilation systems; even the laundering habits of staff will change. These changes are bound to affect dentistry in profound ways, and more than a few teeth will be lost as care gets more expensive and treatments are postponed, Rutner predicted.

Rutner’s South Lake Tahoe office has remained open throughout the pandemic but only for dental emergencies — not to put in fillings or do cleanings or cosmetic work. In the meantime, he’s brought in new safety devices and taken out a few things.

In the wait room, the small, creature comforts such as coloring books and toys and magazines have disappeared.

“We don’t want people touching anything,” said Rutner. Not that they would have much opportunity for that, he added. “The goal now is the virtual waiting room, which is your car. When you get here, you text us,” and staff will let you know when it’s your turn to enter the office.

“We are extending some walls more to the ceiling” to restrict the movement of airborne particles, he said. One of their two bathrooms is being stripped and a washing machine and dryer will go in there.

“That’s so scrubs and outer gowns can be washed here instead of at home,” he said. The office will have a fogger. “It looks like a vacuum cleaner but blows a mist (containing hydrochloric acid) to spray the chairs after each patient. They use it in food service a lot to disinfect fruit.”

Before the pandemic, patients might have been alarmed to see someone walking into the exam room in a face shield, mask, goggles, shoe covers, a hair bonnet and a long gown.

“Now, you better look like you’re an astronaut when you walk into the room,” said Rutner. Even then, some patients will remain anxious about contracting Covid-19 and will put off dealing with minor dental problems before they develop into major ones.

With a kind of — can we call it wistfulness? — Rutner recalls how different things were when he was in dental school.

“I’m 62; I’ve been a dentist for 35 years. When I was in school, we didn’t use gloves or masks or anything. We didn’t sterilize the drills (between patients). We wiped things down, but didn’t put them in a sterilizer,” he said. “The thing that changed all that was HIV (in the 1980s,).

“Before, a plain surgical mask was deemed fine,” he said. Now, a mask that can capture smaller airborne particles, such as the N95 mask, is needed. But these masks and other supplies are in high demand, according to Dr. Jason Henderson, owner of Kings Beach Dental. That’s made the supplies more expensive and supply lines less reliable, said Henderson.

“The same box of 30 masks that cost $30 before now costs $140 a box,” he said, and that’s if you can get one. “Now, (the suppliers) are saying they’re back ordered until August, September. We used to get our dental supplies in 24 to 48 hours.”

Henderson said that he, too, has placed orders for a variety of new products, including a ‘wand’ that will use ultra-violet rays to zap your credit card, check or cash to kill any viruses clinging to them. He’s also ordered a device that goes over the head of patients to trap aerosols; a medical-grade air purifier and a ‘sneeze shield’ to protect front desk staff.

“It looks like a hospital ward,” he said of his office.

Henderson said he’s had to cut staff and doesn’t know yet when he’ll be able to bring them back on.

“People may be too scared to come for dental work,” he said. “A lot of people are rescheduling their appointments to July and August, but who knows what’s going to happen in July and August?”

Facing a slew of new rules that will sharply reduce the number of patients per day they can see, some dentists, especially those who have been in practice a long time or whose building can’t easily be modified, may well decide it’s not worth it to continue, Rutner said. “It wouldn’t shock me if 20% to 30% of dental offices close” in the Lake Tahoe region.

“Let’s say you’re 65, and you have a really old office. Do you want to spend a bunch of money retooling? Many likely will quit,” he said.

To bring down costs, he and five other dentists have pooled $15,000 for masks, gowns, face shields, booties, and hair coverings. Prices on some of these items have doubled, Rutner said.

“Insurance companies are balking at factoring in these increased costs,” he added. As more people lose their job and the dental insurance that goes with it, or if they can’t afford insurance anymore, they’re likely to postpone treatment. “People will become more episodic in their care. They’ll only come in when it hurts.”

Hygienists have their own set of concerns, said Rutner.

“I don’t think they are saying, ‘Oh my god, I need a different career,’ but I do read on blogs that some are asking for assistance.”

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Truckee, Tahoe seniors talk about their missing semester and what’s next

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Lost summer? COVID-19 crisis leaves Truckee, Tahoe events in limbo, if not already canceled

Shifting gears: With marquee Tahoe events canceled, organizers look to salvage season

As restrictions ease, nonprofits get to work

Tahoe-Truckee strong: Community supports struggling nonprofits while pondering ‘When will this all end?’

Court in (modified) session: Nevada County Superior Court set to return to Truckee with change in approach

Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

‘Poking the bear’: Tahoe’s North Shore supervisor stands against colleague’s threat to sue governor

Tahoe region dentists forced to adjust operations amid COVID-19

Truckee, Tahoe health-care providers pivot to new approaches amid pandemic

Increase in tests propels California into Stage 2

From my computer to yours – Namaste: Tahoe yoga studios shift to online practice

Dealing with ‘a sense of uncertainty’: Officials concerned about Truckee’s health and well-being through traumatic times

Nevada County not planning to release more detailed case data

‘Take this seriously’: Tahoe’s essential businesses share what they’ve learned with those yet to reopen

The future of Tahoe travel: Airport ‘ghost town’ expects long route back to normal

Rising demand in Tahoe region real estate out of COVID-19 shutdown

Truckee moves into Stage 2, economic impacts still uncertain

Determining the depth: Placer County measures COVID-19’s hit to budget

Town of Truckee officials eye short-term budget plans amid COVID-19

Businesses struggle navigating economic relief

Food service industry, grocery stores adopt local solutions to sustain operations, nourish Truckee

INVESTIGATING THE IMPACT: Truckee, Tahoe lean on small business as backbone of economy amid coronavirus crisis

RELATED RESOURCES

www.SierraSun.com/coronavirus

www.MyNevadaCounty.com/coronavirus

Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

Danielle Starkey is a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun based in South Lake Tahoe.

Lost summer? COVID-19 crisis leaves Truckee, Tahoe events in limbo, if not already canceled

Plans for North Lake Tahoe’s summer remain unclear. A quick glance at Truckee event calendar reveals a list of cancellations and postponements. The pandemic has disappointed nearly all realms of Truckee’s community — yogis, foodies, race runners, beer drinkers, Shakespeare fans and fireworks revelers.

For North Lake Tahoe, big events compliment the region’s main summer draw — the outdoors.

Although these events may be secondary to committed mountain bikers or paddle boarders, Fourth of July usually draws the biggest crowds to the basin, said Kylee Bigelow, executive director of Tahoe City Downtown Association.

“It’s way too hot in Reno and Sacramento, we get a lot of families who escape the heat to spend the day at the lake,” Bigelow said. “This year was supposed to be our 75th anniversary.”

The lake’s fireworks happen to be one of the oldest traditions that have been put on pause. But the list of canceled public events does not discriminate between events’ age and interests.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

Some of the region’s largest events are sponsored by resorts and event companies. They too, have been impacted.

Twenty percent of Vail Resorts total revenue comes from their North American locations’ summer programming. In a message to employees last week, CEO Rob Katz said he hopes to welcome patrons back to the resort experience by late June, early July. Katz took pains to say that Vail would reopen with the needs of its respective communities in mind but made no mention of the cancellation of resort-sponsored summer events, like Northstar’s Beerfest & Bluegrass Festival.

Wanderlust’s CEO Sean Hoess also declined to confirm any concrete plans to restart his yoga lifestyle company’s annual Squaw Valley-based summer festival in 2021. Hoess said Wanderlust is an event-based company that must pay teachers, musicians, staff and the mountain-venue to profit primarily from ticket sales and sponsorships.

“The economics have never been easy,” he said

The need for “transformation wellness” has only grown since the pandemic’s onset, Hoess said, but California’s ban on large gatherings poses serious problems for an event-based company.

“I have loved Tahoe since I first stepped foot in it. I get misty talking about all the great years I have there,” Hoess said. “On the other hand it has to work, I have to sustain it and be able to pay everyone.”

Hoess said he will take cues from other, larger event companies to contour Wanderlust’s reopening strategy.

“I’m sure people at LiveNation are thinking about this all day,” Hoess said. “I’ll wait to see what the people at Coachella do and then I’ll figure it out. With full respect to them and the community, I am not the guy who can afford to be the guinea pig.”

NONPROFITS

While Hoess waits for an example to follow, Truckee’s smaller events may not have that luxury and so have turned to creative alternatives.

Concerts at Commons Beach are officially canceled up until the Fourth of July Weekend, Tahoe City’s Bigelow said, but they normally take place every Sunday of the summer.

Although it’s unlikely that the remainder of the 12-concert series will resume in person, Bigelow’s organization is devising plans to provide free music this summer in a safe way.

“We’re looking into the option of live streaming or radio,” Bigelow said. “We definitely want to bring music to Tahoe City some way, somehow.

Many of Truckee’s annual summer events are sponsored by nonprofits that depend on ticket sales revenue to sustain operations year-round.

Bigelow said event revenue accounts for 60% of the Tahoe City Downtown Association’s income.

The association’s two employees and 11 board members help promote the Commons Beach Concert series each year. The organization, also sponsored by Placer County and local businesses’ membership dues, has explored loans made available by the CARES Act, but ultimately depends on community support, Bigelow said.

“We have a contingency plan,” she said. “We’re not going anywhere.”

In the meantime, the association’s focus has shifted from event coordination and promotion to connect small businesses with resources they may need to survive the shelter in place order.

“We have to wait till Stage 3 when lodging is open to push more foot traffic,” Bigelow said. “Events will come back when it’s appropriate. We don’t want to put our energy into that when we need to keep our businesses alive.”

CREATIVE SOLUTIONS

For Christin Hanna of the Lake Tahoe Dance Collective, the foot traffic must continue, albeit socially distanced.

Her nonprofit’s annual festival was set to receive $20,000 from the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. Now, Hanna is making the most of the NLTRA’s modified gift — $5,000 — to continue the spirit of the event in a pandemic-appropriate way.

“We’re artists, we’re creative, we find solutions,” the Tahoe native said.

Hanna proposed a revised version of the 8th annual Lake Tahoe Dance Festival to Marketing Director Amber Burke and Event Specialist Katie Biggers of the resort association late last month.

The event will include a limited Young Dancers Workshop conducted in person in an empty lot in Tahoma, where participants will adhere to recommended safety protocols and social distancing guidelines.

“For starters, we did Zoom,” Hanna said. “It’s depressing and there’s no room to really move in peoples’ kitchens.”

The festival will continue with three 30-minute live-streamed presentations — made up of interviews with the Collectives’ collaborators and archival footage of previous festival performances.

“We feel we can take advantage of the online platform to reach further than our traditional demographic,” Hanna said.

Another creative solution on the horizon is a drive-in movie theater in Squaw Valley, Burke said.

“The drive-in is a creative idea that helps to drive lodging, support local events production companies and would also generate money for an employee fund that Squaw has put together,” Burke said.

Burke said the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association has given $5,000 to Squaw Valley to pursue socially-distanced entertainment alternatives on site. Squaw is currently in the permitting process for the drive-in, in the hopes that the go-ahead coincides with Stage 3 of reopening, when lodging will be allowed, Burke said.

For North Lake Tahoe, summer 2020 will not look like summer’s past. Even so, Truckee’s cultural leaders are working to provide opportunities in the arts in responsible, safe ways.

“Events can be forgotten, but at the end of the day they add so much character and personality to our region,” Burke said. “We need to make sure that we’re supporting them.”

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Pandemic invites ‘weekend warriors’ to live their best lives at Truckee Tahoe

Truckee, Tahoe seniors talk about their missing semester and what’s next

Minding the gap: Tahoe Truckee Unified Schools help students, families connect for distance learning

Lost summer? COVID-19 crisis leaves Truckee, Tahoe events in limbo, if not already canceled

Shifting gears: With marquee Tahoe events canceled, organizers look to salvage season

As restrictions ease, nonprofits get to work

Tahoe-Truckee strong: Community supports struggling nonprofits while pondering ‘When will this all end?’

Court in (modified) session: Nevada County Superior Court set to return to Truckee with change in approach

Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

‘Poking the bear’: Tahoe’s North Shore supervisor stands against colleague’s threat to sue governor

Tahoe region dentists forced to adjust operations amid COVID-19

Truckee, Tahoe health-care providers pivot to new approaches amid pandemic

Increase in tests propels California into Stage 2

From my computer to yours – Namaste: Tahoe yoga studios shift to online practice

Dealing with ‘a sense of uncertainty’: Officials concerned about Truckee’s health and well-being through traumatic times

Nevada County not planning to release more detailed case data

‘Take this seriously’: Tahoe’s essential businesses share what they’ve learned with those yet to reopen

The future of Tahoe travel: Airport ‘ghost town’ expects long route back to normal

Rising demand in Tahoe region real estate out of COVID-19 shutdown

Truckee moves into Stage 2, economic impacts still uncertain

Determining the depth: Placer County measures COVID-19’s hit to budget

Town of Truckee officials eye short-term budget plans amid COVID-19

Businesses struggle navigating economic relief

Food service industry, grocery stores adopt local solutions to sustain operations, nourish Truckee

INVESTIGATING THE IMPACT: Truckee, Tahoe lean on small business as backbone of economy amid coronavirus crisis

RELATED RESOURCES

www.SierraSun.com/coronavirus

www.MyNevadaCounty.com/coronavirus

Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

Rebecca O’Neil is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact her at roneil@sierrasun.com.

Shifting gears: With marquee Tahoe events canceled, organizers look to salvage season

The Truckee-Tahoe area has long been known as a world-class venue for an array of outdoor events.

Nearly every weekend at the lake and surrounding areas during the summer months brings athletes from around the globe to take part in triathlons, ultramarathons, golf tournaments, bike festivals, paddleboard races, fundraising events, and more.

But due to the outbreak of COVID-19, many of the lake’s long-running events have either been canceled or rescheduled for the end of summer.

Endurance events

With its natural scenery combined with altitude and challenging terrain, the Tahoe area is home to several of the top annual endurance races.

The recent growth in the sport’s popularity owes much to the original 100-mile trail race, Western States.

The first official race, which takes runners on trails from Squaw Valley to Auburn, was held in 1977 and has since grown into the marquee event for ultrarunners, requiring a lottery process to gain entry each year. This year’s race, according to organizers, had a record of 6,666 applicants vying one of 264 lottery entrees. A total of 369 runners compete in the annual race.

At the end of March, the race’s board of trustees canceled this year’s event.

“We have made the decision to cancel after careful deliberations, knowing that our foremost responsibility is to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of our 2020 entrants, our volunteers, our broader running community, and society at large,” race officials said in a statement. The race was scheduled for June 27.

Following the same route as Western States, the Tevis Cup equestrian endurance race, which was scheduled for Aug. 1, has also been canceled.

“In the 64-year history of the Western States Trail Ride, this is the first time that board has voted to cancel the Tevis,” officials said in an announcement. “While the board explored the option of moving the event to the fall, it was decided that the same health risks that prompted the Aug. 1 cancellation could likely still continue, thus preventing riders the ability to adequately prepare for the ride and making it difficult for the board to plan for a new date.”

Destination Trail, which puts on the annual Tahoe 200 Endurance Run, has already had to cancel early-season races. Organizers have submitted plans regarding COVID-19 measures for this year’s Tahoe 200, which takes place Sept. 12-13, to local jurisdictions around the lake.

“A lot is going to depend on how the different permitting agencies decide to accept and handle the documents we are putting together,” said owner Candice Burt. “The Tahoe 200, we’re talking about going through different cities, three different forest service districts, and getting the OK for each one. That definitely presents a challenge, but we’ve never been ones to shy away from a challenge.”

With cancellations, Burt and her team have since pivoted toward virtual events, including an East Coast vs. West Coast challenge, along with virtual ultramarathons and a virtual race across the US.

“That’s been really popular,” said Burt. “People in the world of running, races are such a motivation. Without having a race on your schedule it’s nice to have something even if it’s a virtual race to keep you motivated.”

The virtual races along with between 1,200 and 1,300 users have also helped keep the company going financially as traditional events have fallen by the wayside.

“For us it’s been amazing to add something at a time when we thought we were going to be in trouble as a business because we had to cancel two races,” said Burt. “Putting together these races has really saved us through April and May.”

Currently, the Tahoe 200, which takes runners on a loop around the lake and is sold out, is still on schedule. Burt said plans for the race may include staggered starts, online pre-race meetings, and social-distancing protocols for travel to race start lines. She added that Destination Trail has been working with the International Trail Running Association on developing guidelines for events.

This weekend roughly 3,000 runners would’ve been on trails taking them from Reno to Truckee, around Lake Tahoe, down into Carson Valley, up through Virginia City, and back into Reno, as part of the 16th annual Reno-Tahoe Odyssey. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 the event has been canceled.

FILE — South Lake Tahoe’s Briana Tiffany runs to the women’s half marathon win in 2019.
Courtesy of Harry Lefrak / Lefrak Photography

Local race organizer Big Blue Adventure has already had to cancel a number of events, including the Truckee Running Festival and Lake Tahoe Mountain Bike Race. Competitions in June have all been postponed to a later date.

Other major endurance events that have been canceled include: Broken Arrow Sky Race, which attracts 1,000 athletes to the area; and Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs, which bring in roughly 500 participants.

PGA, ACC set to host tournaments

In December the PGA Tour announced Tahoe Mountain Club’s Old Greenwood Course would be the site of this year’s Barracuda Championship.

While several of the PGA Tour’s stops have been canceled due to COVID-19, the Barracuda Championship was rescheduled to take place July 30 through Aug. 2.

In South Lake Tahoe, the 31st annual American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament is set to take place July 7-12, but will do so with no fans lining beaches or fairways.

“Right now, in this world, if it happens, it’s going to be a different deal,” said Phil Weidinger, the tournament’s public relations director. “We want to be extremely careful and we want to do it right from a health standpoint.”

Changes this year, according to a permit request to Douglas County, include no tickets being sold, no bleachers, no tents, no VIP fireworks or dinner party, and only celebrities, their families and officials working at the event at Edgewood Tahoe.

Fundraising impacts

Nonprofit Girls on the Run Sierras typically kicks off the year with a 5-kilometer fundraiser during the Truckee Running Festival. Due to the festival being canceled, the organization has switched to hosting a virtual 5-kilometer event in order to support Girls on the Run’s mission of inspiring girls to be healthy and confident. The Reno-Tahoe chapter serves roughly 500 girls annually through its programs.

To sign up for a virtual 5-kilometer race, visit www.girlsontherunsierras.org.

Another fundraising event, the 40th annual Squaw Valley Mountain Run, which was scheduled for July 25 has been postponed until later in the year. The event benefits the Gene Upshaw Memorial Cancer Center and Auburn Ski Club’s Scholarship Fund. In the past six years since Auburn Ski Club took over the event, more than $25,000 has been raised to fight cancer, according to officials from Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.

Auburn Ski Club also puts on the annual 4th of July Firecracker Mile, but due to COVID-19 the race, which benefits the club’s youth programs, has been canceled. The run typically generates roughly $10,000 for scholarships, according to Race Director Megan Seifert, which allow Auburn Ski Club to reach families that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to participate in winter sports.

Other events moved

The third annual Truckee Craw Thaw Music Festival was supposed to take place this weekend, but has been rescheduled for October. The festival benefits the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association and Moody’s Jazz Camp.

The annual Truckee Tahoe Air Show & Family Festival was scheduled to take place July 11, but has been moved to a yet to be announced date in September. A decision is expected to be made by the end of June.

“The safety of our community, volunteers, air show performers and participants has always been our first concern and priority,” said Air Show Executive Director Tim LoDolce in a release. “Although we want to give our community a free event to look forward to this year, we need to see when, or if, a time will be right for 2020.”

All proceeds from the air show go toward local youth organizations, programs, and scholarships.

On May 23, Truckee Bike Park received approval to open with social-distancing rules in place. The bike park had its largest fundraiser of the year postponed.. The fundraiser — dinner, raffle, and live music at Bar of America — goes to support further building out the park and keeping it free to the public. For more information, visit www.truckeebikepark.org.

MORE IN THIS SERIES

Pandemic invites ‘weekend warriors’ to live their best lives at Truckee Tahoe

Truckee, Tahoe seniors talk about their missing semester and what’s next

Minding the gap: Tahoe Truckee Unified Schools help students, families connect for distance learning

Lost summer? COVID-19 crisis leaves Truckee, Tahoe events in limbo, if not already canceled

Shifting gears: With marquee Tahoe events canceled, organizers look to salvage season

As restrictions ease, nonprofits get to work

Tahoe-Truckee strong: Community supports struggling nonprofits while pondering ‘When will this all end?’

Court in (modified) session: Nevada County Superior Court set to return to Truckee with change in approach

Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

‘Poking the bear’: Tahoe’s North Shore supervisor stands against colleague’s threat to sue governor

Tahoe region dentists forced to adjust operations amid COVID-19

Truckee, Tahoe health-care providers pivot to new approaches amid pandemic

Increase in tests propels California into Stage 2

From my computer to yours – Namaste: Tahoe yoga studios shift to online practice

Dealing with ‘a sense of uncertainty’: Officials concerned about Truckee’s health and well-being through traumatic times

Nevada County not planning to release more detailed case data

‘Take this seriously’: Tahoe’s essential businesses share what they’ve learned with those yet to reopen

The future of Tahoe travel: Airport ‘ghost town’ expects long route back to normal

Rising demand in Tahoe region real estate out of COVID-19 shutdown

Truckee moves into Stage 2, economic impacts still uncertain

Determining the depth: Placer County measures COVID-19’s hit to budget

Town of Truckee officials eye short-term budget plans amid COVID-19

Businesses struggle navigating economic relief

Food service industry, grocery stores adopt local solutions to sustain operations, nourish Truckee

INVESTIGATING THE IMPACT: Truckee, Tahoe lean on small business as backbone of economy amid coronavirus crisis

RELATED RESOURCES

www.SierraSun.com/coronavirus

www.MyNevadaCounty.com/coronavirus

Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

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

Tahoe-Truckee strong: Community supports struggling nonprofits while pondering ‘When will this all end?’

It’s stay-at-home day 72. Mi Pueblito Market has not restored its original business hours, but the storefront window reads “Juntos somos Truckee-Tahoe,” pitching a new product.

For $8, customers can choose between an buy a “Tahoe-Strong” window sticker, or one reading “Truckee-Strong.” Both were created by Tahoe Kidz to support the Sierra Community House,

Though stickers alone cannot assure the business and social vitality of the area, the decals — no limit to the number you can purchase — represent just one project under way so that North Shore residents and visitors can continue to sustain the network of local nonprofits during the coronavirus pandemic.

As new existential questions emerge from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the stresses and strains wrought by the disease continue to accumulate. “When will this all end?” is the ultimate question.

None of the nonprofits in North Lake Tahoe have that answer, but steady support from within and outside of the Basin has helped increase their capacity and facilitate the collaboration necessary to provide some relief to a region reliant on a stagnated tourist economy.

“We have a very immediate need, and we have the long-term picture, and it’s so unknown,” said Sierra Community House Executive Director Paul Bancroft. “It’s really hard to plan strategically around a future that is so in flux.”

Bancroft said local leaders in the public and private sectors are making a “loosely coordinated effort” to address the region’s most pressing concerns — food insecurity, housing, child care and mental health.

The 45 health, education and social service partners that make up the Community Collaborative of Truckee Tahoe, housed by the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, offer leadership to a region where “all the county seats and government centers are at least an hour away in every direction,” Bancroft said.

This week, the foundation, which awarded $260,000 last month to local non-governmental organizations, distributed an additional $215,000 to address the still-growing effects of California’s shelter-in-place order, Board Chair Lauren O’Brien said in a news release.

The generous support to TTCF’s Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund, or directly to institutions on the ground, may be inspired by a sense of global solidarity, Bancroft said.

He noted the Sierra Community House received donations from community foundations based all over the state that are connected to individuals or families with a regional residence.

“To a certain extent, COVID has been a great equalizer because it’s impacted everyone on some level,” he said. “Obviously it impacts some people much worse than others — homeless people, the immigrant community — but now people are paying attention to their neighbors.”

Bancroft said the Sierra Community House launched a successful baker’s dozen campaign where contributors with limited financial capacity can commit to a minimum donation of $10 a month.

The network’s new supporters include locals and second homeowners alike, he said.

“It’s exciting to see that level of engagement,” Bancroft said. “That’s an area we’ve struggled with fundraising and donor cultivation in the past — second homeowners.”

FOOD INSECURITY

The Sierra Community House consolidated the efforts of four resource centers in Kings Beach, Incline Village and Truckee last July to form a social service umbrella that Bancroft believes unfolded just in time.

“The nice thing with consolidating is that it feels like we have the robust programming to work with each wave as it evolves,” Bancroft said.

Even so, Bancroft said the North Lake Tahoe region needs more nourishment than what his organization can provide alone.

“We can’t serve everyone, we don’t have the capacity, it’s just not possible,” Bancroft said. “The hope is that there’s enough overlap to where no one is missed, that folks are able to get their meals somewhere.”

Fifty thousand dollars of the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation’s second round of nonprofit support has gone to scale operations and optimize distribution services using existing infrastructure, namely that of Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, Sierra Community House, Sierra Senior Services, Boys & Girls Club and the Tahoe Food Hub.

North Lake Tahoe Boys & Girls Club CEO Mindy Carbajal said her organization is familiar with providing nutrition to children but has recently expanded its outreach to meet the needs of the family unit. When the club served its first grab-and-go meal on March 25 in Kings Beach and Incline Village, the intention was to provide dinners to families in need three days a week.

“The need surpassed our kitchen’s capacity,” Carbajal said.

Then the Boys & Girls Club got a call from Incline Serves, an impromptu Covid-related relief group that takes donations to pay local restaurants for preparing food for free distribution.

“We went from serving food three days a week to five days a week,” Carbajal said. “Those kinds of innovations — clearly, hunger relief is not what these businesses do — are successful because we’re thinking outside the box.”

Other longstanding organizations, such as the First Baptist Church of Tahoe City, have stepped up to help new institutions leverage their resources on behalf of the community’s well-being.

The church’s Resort Minister Bethany Hansen also coordinates with Rachel Graf of the Sierra Relief Kitchen to provide volunteers to deliver prepared food to 85 families from Truckee and Incline to the west shore. Members of the congregation have both volunteered and received food assistance in the last two months, she said.

Jen Capshaw, the church’s administrator, said because religious convenings are suspended during the shelter-in-place order, the nonprofit has lost significant revenue due to the lack of in-person donations.

First Baptist Church of Tahoe City’s church council made the decision to utilize the church’s benevolence funds in conjunction with the Tahoe Ministerial Association to provide Save Mart gift cards for those in need. They continue their work through private donors within and out of the community.

“It’s been amazing to receive support from people connected and not connected to the church,” Jen Capshaw said. “All our partners may not share all of our values, but we all want to create safe places for youth within this community, safe space for families.”

HOUSING CHALLENGES

Alison Schwedner, director of the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee, said the primary mission of her partner network is to work as a collaborative to address the fundamental needs of the community.

At the start of the crisis in March, that meant getting food on the table. By May, it meant providing assistance with rents, mortgages and utility bills.

Over 55% of North Lake Tahoe’s workforce is employed in the tourist-space economy, Schwedner said.

“I believe a lot of people were paid through the end of March, and so were able to make their April rent or mortgage,” she said. “They were really challenged with making May rent because they weren’t paid through the month of April.”

Schwedner said the Town of Truckee’s offered $50,000 in Emergency Rental Relief Funds to struggling renters who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis in early May.

“Within the day, they were done distributing the money to 34 households,” she said.

Sierra Community House Executive Director Paul Bancroft said locals may not be able to save between low-paying service jobs and North Lake’s high cost of living. Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation’s most recent gift to nonprofits includes $65,000 to the Sierra Community House to prevent homelessness, said foundation spokesperson Makaiah Mohler.

“It’s a precarious-at-best model,” Bancroft said. “You need five jobs to live in Tahoe, but what do you do if all of those five jobs dry up?”

Bancroft expects the Sierra Community House to ramp up legal mediation services for the next wave of housing needs, when the rent is really due.

“A lot of the eviction legislation and mandates are providing immediate relief now,” Bancroft said. “In the fall, it’s really going to hit people … You still have to pay. It’s just getting deferred.”

CHILD CARE

The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation granted $50,000 to the Boys & Girls Club and Local Child Care Partners to help community members balance their financial obligations and familial burdens as they return to work while schools are still closed.

“Child care is a critical component for families going back to work,” Schwedner said. “We know facilities will be open, and ratios will be different.”

Carbajal said as North Lake Tahoe counties reopen, the Boys & Girls Club will return to some semblance of its original self.

“We’re working hard to get our doors open, making sure our program is safe,” she said.

Child care providers must use protective equipment, establish new safety protocols and maintain ratios.

“We served 300 kids a day in previous summers. We’re going to serve a fraction of that,” Carbajal said.

The First Baptist Church of Tahoe City is a state-licensed child care facility that opened its doors Tuesday to provide support to families trying to return to work in the North Lake region.

“We reopened for preschool and for school-age, we’re following all the guidelines from California Public Health and the CDC,” said Pastor Scott Capshaw.

MENTAL HEALTH

“Initially, the need out of the gate was hunger. Then we started seeing an increase in rental and utility assistance. Now we’re seeing a need in domestic violence and mental health related cases,” Bancroft said.

Rural towns across the country have less access to mental health services and higher rates of depression and isolation, Schwedner said, but resort-based communities may be even more at risk due to “party culture.”

“The shelter-in-place order was a perfect storm,” Schwedner said.

Partners in the Community Collaborative direct those in distress to the Sierra Community House’s crisis line.

“We’re really working to help people understand that it’s OK to not be OK,” Schwedner said.

Bancroft noted a marked increase in domestic violence calls since the onset of the pandemic, likely caused by acute financial stressors. And with schools closed, social service providers have lost an important window into children’s quality of life.

“Calls to Child Protective Services are low because it’s normally teachers that file those reports,” Bancroft said. “Calls are down, but that doesn’t mean abuse is not happening.”

Pre-Covid, the crisis line received 20 to 30 calls a month, Bancroft said. In April 2020, 143 calls were made to the crisis line. Half were domestic violence, sexual assault or mental health-related cases.

“We went from two suicide-related calls a month to two a week,” Bancroft said.

Bancroft explained how Vail Resorts has been an influential force in bearing witness to and addressing the high rates of suicide in mountain towns.

Sierra Community House received $50,000 from Tahoe Mountain Resorts Foundation to combat the detrimental mental effects of unemployment and isolation.

TTCF distributed $30,000 to Granite Wellness, Gateway Mountain Center and Tahoe Truckee Unified School District’s Wellness Center to address the long-term, secondary effects of the shelter-in-place order.

Efforts to serve the community’s mental health needs include stigma reduction, crisis intervention, violence prevention, substance use disorder and suicide prevention, Mohler said in a news release.

MOVING FORWARD

The father of an 8-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son, Bancroft said he knows the Sierra Community House and other area organizations will continue their Covid-related relief efforts for many more months.

“A lot of the people I’ve spoken to are pretty well aware that this is not going to be wrapped up by July 4th,” he said. “I think people are viewing this as a long-term challenge and that it will take a long time to recover.”

Bancroft said although long-term public funding sources are uncertain, his team will continue to participate in virtual dialogues and brainstorming sessions to identify emerging needs within the community.

In the meantime, he is grateful for the local outpouring of support.

“I think Covid-19 has revealed how caring and compassionate our communities are up here,” Bancroft said.

Still, the Truckee-native hopes the town does not return to business as usual after this crisis is over.

“Clearly,” Bancroft said, “it didn’t work for a lot of people.”

MORE IN THIS SERIES

Pandemic invites ‘weekend warriors’ to live their best lives at Truckee Tahoe

Truckee, Tahoe seniors talk about their missing semester and what’s next

Minding the gap: Tahoe Truckee Unified Schools help students, families connect for distance learning

Lost summer? COVID-19 crisis leaves Truckee, Tahoe events in limbo, if not already canceled

Shifting gears: With marquee Tahoe events canceled, organizers look to salvage season

As restrictions ease, nonprofits get to work

Tahoe-Truckee strong: Community supports struggling nonprofits while pondering ‘When will this all end?’

Court in (modified) session: Nevada County Superior Court set to return to Truckee with change in approach

Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

‘Poking the bear’: Tahoe’s North Shore supervisor stands against colleague’s threat to sue governor

Tahoe region dentists forced to adjust operations amid COVID-19

Truckee, Tahoe health-care providers pivot to new approaches amid pandemic

Increase in tests propels California into Stage 2

From my computer to yours – Namaste: Tahoe yoga studios shift to online practice

Dealing with ‘a sense of uncertainty’: Officials concerned about Truckee’s health and well-being through traumatic times

Nevada County not planning to release more detailed case data

‘Take this seriously’: Tahoe’s essential businesses share what they’ve learned with those yet to reopen

The future of Tahoe travel: Airport ‘ghost town’ expects long route back to normal

Rising demand in Tahoe region real estate out of COVID-19 shutdown

Truckee moves into Stage 2, economic impacts still uncertain

Determining the depth: Placer County measures COVID-19’s hit to budget

Town of Truckee officials eye short-term budget plans amid COVID-19

Businesses struggle navigating economic relief

Food service industry, grocery stores adopt local solutions to sustain operations, nourish Truckee

INVESTIGATING THE IMPACT: Truckee, Tahoe lean on small business as backbone of economy amid coronavirus crisis

RELATED RESOURCES

www.SierraSun.com/coronavirus

www.MyNevadaCounty.com/coronavirus

Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

Rebecca O’Neil is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact her at roneil@sierrasun.com.

Court in (modified) session: Nevada County Superior Court set to return to Truckee with change in approach

The coronavirus pandemic slowed the pace of American life. Weddings have been postponed, job offers suspended and divorce court proceedings delayed.

This Monday, June 1, the cogs of justice will begin to turn once again, carrying the weight of two-and-a-half months worth of backlogged cases. Like many institutions reopening their doors during Phase 2, the Truckee branch of Nevada County’s Superior Court will operate differently.

Since judicial operations halted mid-March, Nevada County Superior Court Judge Robert Tamietti and his team reconfigured Truckee’s two courtrooms to adhere to the social distancing guidelines recommended by the state. The court’s new safety measures include mandating masks inside, limiting the number of people in the room and rearranged seating.

Tamietti said he and his staff’s on-site skeleton crew took cues from local grocery stores and taped the floor every six feet. Seating for the court’s audience was reduced from 66 to 25 chairs.

Tamietti said the limited seating will affect pretrial proceedings, including traffic violations which make up the bulk of the courthouse’s foot traffic and revenue.

“Our biggest calendar is the traffic calendar,” Tamietti said. “We’ve got a traffic arraignment date, where you determine if you’ll take the fine or go to traffic school, scheduled in late June with 400 people.”

Tamietti said court attendees will wait in their car prior to arraignment going forward, a modification to the in-take process he believes is more than reasonable — weather-permitting.

The new protocol is meant to protect everyone who enters the courthouse, Tamietti explained, but he especially hopes the measures allay the fears of potential jurors and help them embrace their civic duty.

“I want to reassure the community that when they start to receive the jury summons we’re not going to sardine them,” Tamietti said.

RESPECTING SPACE

In Department A, Truckee’s main courtroom, the jury’s chairs were unbolted and replaced by freestanding seats spaced in accordance with state recommendations. Three of the jury’s seats are now located outside of their designated box, just in front of the rail, Tamietti said.

Truckee criminal defense attorney Alison Bermant said the jury’s physical position definitely influences courtroom dynamics.

“Lawyers have to be mindful of all parties’ locations while delivering statements,” Bermant said, adding that she would never agree to participate in a criminal court case online, like in New York.

“How can you judge a witness testimony over Zoom? Anyone who has done a Zoom call knows,” Bermant said. “Even having a Zoom cocktail hour with my girlfriends, you just don’t get the same facial expressions to gauge someone’s credibility that well.”

Bermant said taking criminal cases online and cross examining witnesses over a video conference violates due process.

“In a courtroom a jury can see if a person can make eye contact,” Bermant said. “There’s nonverbal communication that takes place when testifying in the courtroom.”

Nevada County will also move two-thirds of the jury selection process online to alleviate court crowding. The three tiers of the jury selection process are hardship, for cause and peremptory challenge, he explained. The first two illuminate potential jurors’ prior commitments and past experiences that may conflict with their ability to be unbiased.

“We’re trying to do hardship and the first level of ‘for cause’ impersonally,” Tamietti said. “Do you have a doctor’s appointment? Do you know the people involved in the case?”

Jurors play an integral role in Americans’ Sixth Amendment rights. Rights that also, under normal circumstances, ensure a criminal defendant’s access to a timely trial.

Tamietti said a defendant is entitled to a trial within 60 days of pleading “not guilty” to a felony. If the defendant faces a misdemeanor charge, they are entitled to a trial within 30 days. In March, and again in April, California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye issued emergency orders that extended the deadline for state superior courts to hold criminal trials by a total of 90 days.

‘THE WORK HAS NOT STOPPED’

Since the onset of the pandemic, Tamietti’s legal action is limited to emergencies — issuing domestic violence-related restraining orders and arraigning new arrestees.

The recently arraigned may take comfort in California’s Emergency Bail Schedule, which eliminates bail for all misdemeanor and low-level felony offenses, but the accused may end up in a legal battle that extends into 2021, Tamietti said.

“I am booked solid with criminal trials from July 22 to the first of the new year,” Tamietti said.

Tamietti, who has served Truckee for 17 years, said a number of those cases will “crater” before they reach his courtroom via plea bargains or the prosecution’s dismissal. Even so, his schedule is packed.

“The work has not stopped,” Truckee public defender Bruce Kapsack said. “People are still getting arrested.”

Once the protocol is rolled out, Tamietti and his skeleton crew will tackle pretrials on Mondays and Tuesdays and jury trials on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

No one in the courthouse has been furloughed but 50% of Tamietti’s team is working from home.

“That’s basically so if someone gets exposed the other 50% can still work for them,” Tamietti said.

Kapsack said the court’s backlog is overwhelming, and playing catch up will be stressful for everyone involved in Truckee’s judicial system.

“Right now my workload is pretty light but down the road I’m going to see three or four times as many cases a day,” he said. “The court here in Truckee is one district attorney, one judge and me. We handle one-fourth of cases in the county but we have one-eighth of the resources.”

Kapsack believes one of his clients currently awaiting trial in the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility will likely be found innocent when the case proceeds in July.

“I know one person in custody right now who at a trial would probably win,” Kapsack said.

Bermant said courts already get a low response rate from potential jurors, but their service is needed more than ever.

“Do your civic duty,” Bermant said. “If you’re an innocent person that’s charged with a crime and the government won’t let it go, the only people that can save you is the jury.”

MORE IN THIS SERIES

Pandemic invites ‘weekend warriors’ to live their best lives at Truckee Tahoe

Truckee, Tahoe seniors talk about their missing semester and what’s next

Minding the gap: Tahoe Truckee Unified Schools help students, families connect for distance learning

Lost summer? COVID-19 crisis leaves Truckee, Tahoe events in limbo, if not already canceled

Shifting gears: With marquee Tahoe events canceled, organizers look to salvage season

As restrictions ease, nonprofits get to work

Tahoe-Truckee strong: Community supports struggling nonprofits while pondering ‘When will this all end?’

Court in (modified) session: Nevada County Superior Court set to return to Truckee with change in approach

Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

‘Poking the bear’: Tahoe’s North Shore supervisor stands against colleague’s threat to sue governor

Tahoe region dentists forced to adjust operations amid COVID-19

Truckee, Tahoe health-care providers pivot to new approaches amid pandemic

Increase in tests propels California into Stage 2

From my computer to yours – Namaste: Tahoe yoga studios shift to online practice

Dealing with ‘a sense of uncertainty’: Officials concerned about Truckee’s health and well-being through traumatic times

Nevada County not planning to release more detailed case data

‘Take this seriously’: Tahoe’s essential businesses share what they’ve learned with those yet to reopen

The future of Tahoe travel: Airport ‘ghost town’ expects long route back to normal

Rising demand in Tahoe region real estate out of COVID-19 shutdown

Truckee moves into Stage 2, economic impacts still uncertain

Determining the depth: Placer County measures COVID-19’s hit to budget

Town of Truckee officials eye short-term budget plans amid COVID-19

Businesses struggle navigating economic relief

Food service industry, grocery stores adopt local solutions to sustain operations, nourish Truckee

INVESTIGATING THE IMPACT: Truckee, Tahoe lean on small business as backbone of economy amid coronavirus crisis

RELATED RESOURCES

www.SierraSun.com/coronavirus

www.MyNevadaCounty.com/coronavirus

Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

Rebecca O’Neil is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact her at roneil@sierrasun.com.

‘Take this seriously’: Tahoe’s essential businesses share what they’ve learned with those yet to reopen

While most of Tahoe has been closed under “stay-at-home” orders issued by California and Nevada governors, now some “nonessential” businesses are slowly allowed to open back up as long as they follow the new health standards.

However, now everyone must abide by 6-feet social distancing rules, wear a mask, and change operations to detract people gathering in clusters. Here are how some essential businesses who’ve been open for a while have been handling it and what other businesses waiting to reopen can expect:

Swigard’s ACE Hardware, Tahoe City

Swigard’s hardware store has been busy with people ever since it reopened to allow the public in, but owner Jeff Swigard implemented strict health protocols early on so that his employees would feel comfortable coming back to work.

A couple months ago the hardware store started offering curbside pickup service and then on May 8 opened its doors. However, they are only letting three to four people in at a time and masks are mandatory.

“We have one door set up for curbside service and another with a side door that people come into and they circulate through the store,” Swigard says.

Overall customers are happy to be able to come back in, shop, and browse, especially since curbside service is hard to manage.

“Curbside is difficult when we have 25,000 items in the store,” he says, noting when a store carries various sizes of screws, nuts, and bolts, people want to come in and personally find what they’re looking for. Swigard’s revenue is down 60% since the start of the pandemic, but he says that maintaining strict health standards is necessary for keeping everyone safe and being able to stay in business.

“We have to do it to protect our customers and members of our community. Employees were scared to come back and we’re a small space,” Swigard says. When the pandemic hit, keeping his staff was a major challenge since about 40% of his employees started calling in sick.

“But once they saw the extreme measures that we put in place to protect them, eventually they all came back,” he said. “I believe that you carry your employees through the winter and then they carry you through the summer.”

For other businesses waiting to get open Swigard adds, “Every business owner needs to look beyond themselves and do what’s right for the community to protect your employees and customers. Some people are mad that we’re requiring masks but I’m like, ‘Do you have 400 people come into your living room when you don’t know where they’ve been?’ I treat my employees like they’re my family; I look at this as protecting my kids. We stopped renting out our carpet cleaner because we don’t know what people are doing with it.”

Swigard says that one of the biggest issues that will likely go into summer is being out of personal protective equipment and necessities that people are scooping up as soon as their bleak orders come in. He’s had a glove order out for at least 10 weeks and notes that the supply chain is far behind.

“Our distribution center is overrun, they don’t have the manpower to keep up with the pace,” he says.

Despite all the harsh changes, though, Swigard says that more customers have given him input thanking him for doing above and beyond what was called for than not taking those extra precautions.

“My advice to other business owners is to take this seriously and do everything you can to protect yourself, your business, your employees, and your customers. We don’t want this thing resurging and coming back and having to close again,” he says.

Village Market, Incline Village

The family-owned grocery store that’s been around for more than 30 years in Incline Village made a few changes to its operations quickly as the COVID-19 pandemic developed which have been paying off in the long run.

“We put up sneeze shields and it makes customers feel more comfortable,” Village Market Manager Bill Presswood said. “We went down to the hardware store and bought plexiglass and built it in,” he adds.

Village Market staff is sure to take and sanitize each shopping cart after every use, wiping down all handles all the time on the carts and hand baskets as well. “I think when customers are aware of it and see you doing that then it makes them feel safe,” he says.

Village Market provides gloves, face masks, shields, and hand sanitizer that they sell and use themselves, being extra cautious to practice social distancing from customers and each other. Along with that, they’ve changed how they restock the shelves.

“We don’t do it while people are in the aisles and find it’s better to come in a little earlier to restock the shelves so that there’s one less point of contact,” says Presswood. “I came in at 4 a.m. to stock the shelves this morning before we opened at 8:30 a.m. and it’s a lot better,” he says.

He suggests putting an extra employee on the schedule to clean shelves, bathrooms, and re-sanitize touch points and is thankful that they have respectful customers too. “We have great customers, 80% of them that come in here wear face masks,” he says.

“It’s about making sure that customers know it’s safe to shop in your store and that you’re providing a clean environment,” Presswood said.

T-Mobile,

South Lake Tahoe

Cellular service providers are essential businesses, too, and have struggled to stay open through COVID-19 to keep everyone connected. The T-Mobile store in South Lake Tahoe has seen a huge drop in sales as some people are confused on what they can and can’t do in there.

“We don’t really get anybody in the store now, I think people are staying home and ordering online. It’s pretty dead,” says T-Mobile Sales Lead Luis Vaobez. The T-Mobile store in South Lake cut back their hours of operation early on, but now that more businesses are reopening across the country the cell service provider is going back to its normal hours.

T-Mobile requires that customers wear a mask while in its store, so when asked what the biggest challenge is, Vaobez replies, “Fifty percent of our customers are happy (about the policy to wear a mask) but the other 50 percent are mad and that drives business out.”

Vaobez adds that as an employee, it is uncomfortable wearing a mask all day, especially since they keep the store at a constant 71-degree temperature. “It gets hot,” he said with a laugh.

As far as advice for other businesses in the process of reopening, Vaobez says, “The best thing for businesses reopening is to know that you are going to lose some business if you enforce a mask rule, but we’re all in this together.

“I’ll be honest, it’s weird seeing babies wear masks, but it is what it is. People are going to struggle for sure”.

MORE IN THIS SERIES

Pandemic invites ‘weekend warriors’ to live their best lives at Truckee Tahoe

Truckee, Tahoe seniors talk about their missing semester and what’s next

Minding the gap: Tahoe Truckee Unified Schools help students, families connect for distance learning

Lost summer? COVID-19 crisis leaves Truckee, Tahoe events in limbo, if not already canceled

Shifting gears: With marquee Tahoe events canceled, organizers look to salvage season

As restrictions ease, nonprofits get to work

Tahoe-Truckee strong: Community supports struggling nonprofits while pondering ‘When will this all end?’

Court in (modified) session: Nevada County Superior Court set to return to Truckee with change in approach

Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

‘Poking the bear’: Tahoe’s North Shore supervisor stands against colleague’s threat to sue governor

Tahoe region dentists forced to adjust operations amid COVID-19

Truckee, Tahoe health-care providers pivot to new approaches amid pandemic

Increase in tests propels California into Stage 2

From my computer to yours – Namaste: Tahoe yoga studios shift to online practice

Dealing with ‘a sense of uncertainty’: Officials concerned about Truckee’s health and well-being through traumatic times

Nevada County not planning to release more detailed case data

‘Take this seriously’: Tahoe’s essential businesses share what they’ve learned with those yet to reopen

The future of Tahoe travel: Airport ‘ghost town’ expects long route back to normal

Rising demand in Tahoe region real estate out of COVID-19 shutdown

Truckee moves into Stage 2, economic impacts still uncertain

Determining the depth: Placer County measures COVID-19’s hit to budget

Town of Truckee officials eye short-term budget plans amid COVID-19

Businesses struggle navigating economic relief

Food service industry, grocery stores adopt local solutions to sustain operations, nourish Truckee

INVESTIGATING THE IMPACT: Truckee, Tahoe lean on small business as backbone of economy amid coronavirus crisis

RELATED RESOURCES

www.SierraSun.com/coronavirus

www.MyNevadaCounty.com/coronavirus

Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

Kayla Anderson is a staff writer for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun based in South Lake Tahoe.

As restrictions ease, nonprofits get to work

As local environmental nonprofit groups and volunteers prepare for field season to begin work on restoration projects, the hope is that critical conservation work can be implemented amid the outbreak of COVID-19.

The National Forest Foundation said it’s currently working on contingency plans with its partners and U.S. Forest Service staff in case programs and projects have to be postponed until 2021.

The foundation leads forest conservation efforts across the nation, and has been involved in several projects around the Truckee-Tahoe area, including the Big Jack East Project and Lake Tahoe West Restoration Partnership.

The Big Jack East Project, in Placer County and just south of Truckee, resumed operations for the 2020 season on May 6. On May 15, Forest Supervisor Eli Ilano signed a forest order to close a section of the project called the Big Jack East Closure Area in order to facilitate safe and efficient operations at the location.

Work on the project is being done in collaboration with the forest service and National Forest Foundation to treat approximately 2,000 acres of land by reducing fuel loadings and creating conditions that would improve forest resiliency to fire, insects, disease, drought and climate change.

Another project moving forward is the proposed Lake Tahoe West Restoration Partnership. The collaborative effort is intended to restore the resilience of forests, watersheds, and communities on 59,013 acres of the West Shore. On May 8, the forest service, California Tahoe Conservancy and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency extended the scoping period for the proposed project until May 26. Comments for the project can be submitted on the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit web page.

For three decades the Truckee Donner Land Trust has worked to preserve nearly 40,000 acres of open space, build trails, manage campgrounds, and more.

When the outbreak of COVID-19 began, the land trust was tentative about fundraising, according to Communications and Marketing Director Greyson Howard.

“But what we started to actually hear, was that we really need open space right now,” said Howard. “Everyone was calling us and emailing us saying, ‘Hey where can I go for a bike ride or a hike right now.’”

Howard said the interest in open spaces during stay-at-home orders has translated into a 7% increase in fundraising from March 1 to May 21 compared to the same time last year. Much of the money received, according to Howard, has come in the form of small donations.

“People really care about trails and open space right now,” said Howard. “It seems like it may have been reprioritized to some extent.”

Fundraising to purchase 26-acre Truckee Springs is the main focus of the land trust at this time. The goal is to raise $10 million with the hope that $2.5 million will come from private donors in the community. So far roughly $850,000 has been raised.

“It’s been tough to fundraise for that,” said Howard. “We were planning events and we wanted to have a big party for our 30th anniversary. We’ve been having to adjust. It’s been challenging.”

The land trust has also been requesting Donor Advised Funds, which give the donor flexibility in when and which charities receive funds.

Money in the fund, according to the land trust, acts as a “kind of philanthropic first responder, quickly getting vital resources where they are needed most while also thoughtfully targeting funds to help support the general operating needs of nonprofits.” Donor Advised Funds would help offset regular fundraising operations that may have been disrupted or challenged during the coronavirus crisis.

“We can all see, perhaps now more than ever in these challenging times, that the preservation of open space is critically important,” said Mike Sabarese, Truckee Donner Land Trust Board member, who gives through a Donor Advised Fund held by the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation. “Giving through a Donor Advised Fund allows us to target our philanthropy and quickly support our community in times of greatest need while also avoiding capital gains taxes and netting a deduction. It’s a win-win.”

TRAIL WORK

As soon as snow melts in the Truckee-Tahoe area, mountain bikers and hikers hit the backcountry to enjoy the hundreds of miles of trails the region offers.

The Truckee Trails Foundation began trail work on May 13, clearing trees and brushing back shrubbery on sections that are snow free. During the course of the year the foundation will cover roughly 100 miles of trail.

“We have been given the green light to start trail work,” the foundation posted to its social media pages. “With health and safety as our #1 goal, we will be spread out along the trails … ring your bike bells or give us a shout when you see us on the trail, we will move over to give you all space to pass by.”

Plans for work this summer include using $202,000 in awarded transient occupancy tax funds from Placer County to improve and add pit toilets to trailheads at Sawtooth, lower Big Chief, on Forest Service Road 01, and on the A1 trail. The foundation also plans on improving select trailhead parking areas, adding new signage to trailheads, and installing 45 wayfinding signs along many of the non-motorized, multi-use trails on forest service land in Placer County.

The A1 Trail project is also scheduled to be completed this summer. One of the more popular trails, according to the foundation, A1 is being worked on to meet current sustainability standards along with avoiding sensitive areas.

The project involves the adoption of 1.71 miles of existing user-created trail, construction of an additional two miles of single-track trail in order to create a loop system, construction of a trailhead parking area, and finalizing the approach to the West River Street and Highway 89 intersection.

“This project will provide a sustainable and long-lasting recreation opportunity for the public, while discouraging use of adjacent private land and avoiding sensitive cultural and natural resources,” according to the foundation.

Work is expected to be completed this summer.

“Covid is definitely affecting operations, though,” said Executive Director Allison Pedley in an email to the Sun. “We have only one vehicle for the crew — a van, which could easily haul everyone. But, new COVID restrictions mean only two crew can ride in one vehicle at a time, so we are scrambling to get creative with vehicles. The crew has been amazing with these adjustments, though, and just really happy to be back out working.”

Another project the Truckee Trails Foundation is involved in is the Lower Carpenter Valley Trail, which broke ground in August.

Work at Lower Carpenter Valley, which was purchased by the Truckee Donner Land Trust, is expected to continue during the summer.

The land trust announced it won’t begin voluntary trail days until August. It won’t be leading hikes on the trail until July.

One of the area’s most iconic trails, the Tahoe Rim Trail, won’t have volunteer work on the more than 165 miles of trail until at least mid-June, according to the Tahoe Rim Trail Association.

Last year the Tahoe East Shore Trail, running from Incline Village to Sand Harbor, opened to the public.

Recently, NV Energy Foundation partnered with nonprofit Tahoe Fund to install 23 new educational signs, offering users information on the area’s history, environment, and wildlife. The signs were funded by NV Energy Foundation.

“The Tahoe East Shore Trail has been a collaborative effort since its inception. We’re thrilled that NV Energy recognized the value in adding these interpretive signs to enhance the visitor experience and we are so grateful for their contribution,” said Amy Berry, CEO of the Tahoe Fund. “The team at Fallon Multimedia did a tremendous job creating them, and we hope they will inspire trail users to become stewards of Lake Tahoe.”

Trail users can expect to see signage along the trail that tells the stories of Incline Village and Sand Harbor, Tahoe’s history and ecology, information on the region’s black bear population, the lake’s clarity, and more.

Tahoe Fund is also funding work by the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association to start trail work on the Upper Tyrolean Trail restoration. The organization is also funding an environmental assessment of an extension of the Incline Flume Trail.

While COVID-19 has taken most headlines, Berry said the organization is aware that fire season will be here soon.

”We are focused on finding solutions that will help our public agency partners increase the pace and scale of forest restoration,” said Berry in an email to the Sun.

Tahoe Fund’s major project this summer involves work to update facilities at Spooner Laker, which would include a new amphitheater.

Tahoe Fund, according to Berry, has also continued to receive regular donations since the outbreak of COVID-19.

“If anything, we are seeing how important being in Tahoe’s beautiful environment is to people,” added Berry.

There is concern going forward, however, as Tahoe Fund’s annual fundraiser may not be possible, “which would have a major impact on our annual fundraising,” said Berry. “But we aren’t ready to cancel it yet!”

TRUCKEE RIVER

The Truckee River Watershed Council has had staff in the field this month conducting water quality monitoring across 24 sites, maintaining an 18-year record of data for local watercourses.

The watershed council’s habitat restoration projects met the same criteria as construction work, allowing staff and a few volunteers to begin work as weather permitted. Typically during this time of year, according to Executive Director Lisa Wallace, the watershed council relies mostly on volunteers to conduct water quality testing, but due to the outbreak of coronavirus, only staff and a few experienced volunteers have been in the field.

Watershed council staff was also at Dry Creek earlier in the month, and worked through social distancing protocols to complete work on adding reinforcement to restored stream channels along Dog Valley Road.

Heading into the season, the Truckee River Watershed Council will be starting a trio of major projects in the area. Work is set to begin on state park land in Coldstream Canyon on restoring 11 acres of wetlands. In Alpine Meadows, the watershed council will begin work to restore a 35-acre meadow along Bear Creek, and just north of Stampede Reservoir, there is a 350-acre meadow restoration project, called Sardine Meadow, which will also begin this summer.

“This year, we are really committed to those three projects because it puts about $2 million into the local economy,” said Wallace. “Projects that can help support people locally.”

Wallace added that fundraising has been a little behind than in years past, but that she’s confident it will catch up throughout the summer months.

“People around here have always appreciated being outdoors. They want the streams to be healthy. They want the meadows and forest to be healthy, but it’s been even more so the last three months,” she said.

“For 2020 we’re feeling confident that the projects are going to move ahead because donors are staying with us and state grant funding is staying with us,” added Wallace. “Where I’m nervous is if the economy stays weak. I’m nervous about 2021 and being able to continue our work … If people can support (restoration) work in 2020, it will make it easier for all of us to hold our programs and our restoration projects through 2021.”

Going into the work season, the watershed council announced that Team Leader Training will not be conducted in 2020 for the council’s Adopt-A-Stream program. The Chemical and Habitat Monitoring program had its May sessions canceled, but will likely resume in June with small group gatherings. Biological Monitoring is expected take place July through September with macro-invertebrate sampling days.

“We’re optimistic that the other volunteer programs that we have — that run from July through October — that we will be able to do all of those,” said Wallace.

AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES

Among the chief concerns for many nonprofit and environmental groups that work around Lake Tahoe relate to aquatic invasive species.

In order to help protect the lake during this time, only vessels with an intact Lake Tahoe inspection seal can launch at select ramps and facilities.

Other vessels will have to wait until inspection stations open later in the season, once health orders and travel restrictions are relaxed.

The most serious aquatic invasive species threats, according to the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, are Zebra and Quagga mussels, New Zealand mudsnails, spiny water fleas, and rock snot.

MORE IN THIS SERIES

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Truckee, Tahoe seniors talk about their missing semester and what’s next

Minding the gap: Tahoe Truckee Unified Schools help students, families connect for distance learning

Lost summer? COVID-19 crisis leaves Truckee, Tahoe events in limbo, if not already canceled

Shifting gears: With marquee Tahoe events canceled, organizers look to salvage season

As restrictions ease, nonprofits get to work

Tahoe-Truckee strong: Community supports struggling nonprofits while pondering ‘When will this all end?’

Court in (modified) session: Nevada County Superior Court set to return to Truckee with change in approach

Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

‘Poking the bear’: Tahoe’s North Shore supervisor stands against colleague’s threat to sue governor

Tahoe region dentists forced to adjust operations amid COVID-19

Truckee, Tahoe health-care providers pivot to new approaches amid pandemic

Increase in tests propels California into Stage 2

From my computer to yours – Namaste: Tahoe yoga studios shift to online practice

Dealing with ‘a sense of uncertainty’: Officials concerned about Truckee’s health and well-being through traumatic times

Nevada County not planning to release more detailed case data

‘Take this seriously’: Tahoe’s essential businesses share what they’ve learned with those yet to reopen

The future of Tahoe travel: Airport ‘ghost town’ expects long route back to normal

Rising demand in Tahoe region real estate out of COVID-19 shutdown

Truckee moves into Stage 2, economic impacts still uncertain

Determining the depth: Placer County measures COVID-19’s hit to budget

Town of Truckee officials eye short-term budget plans amid COVID-19

Businesses struggle navigating economic relief

Food service industry, grocery stores adopt local solutions to sustain operations, nourish Truckee

INVESTIGATING THE IMPACT: Truckee, Tahoe lean on small business as backbone of economy amid coronavirus crisis

RELATED RESOURCES

www.SierraSun.com/coronavirus

www.MyNevadaCounty.com/coronavirus

Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

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