Is Tahoe Actually More Crowded Than Summers Past?

Of all the things COVID-19 has been described as, Truckee resident Court Leve considers it a magnifying glass, laying bare the negative aspects of life. 

In Tahoe, Leve says, the novel coronavirus amplified the volume of tourism to our region, and in turn exacerbated many of its negative impacts, such as noise, traffic, and pollution. And residents are getting fed up. Leve runs the Truckee Tahoe Litter Group Facebook page, and told Moonshine that over a recent 28-day period, membership on the page had gone up by 30% to 1,400, while posts and comments skyrocketed 662% to 10,600. 

This summer, because of COVID, everybody wants to be outside,” Leve said. “I’ve been here 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this [with regard to] a steady basis of traffic and trash.”

“It’s like the Fourth of July every day,” echoed Jim Mapes, an Incline Village resident, about the recent crowds.

Kat Teichner, who lives in the Cedar Flat neighborhood, says she doesn’t feel comfortable going to her local grocery store in Tahoe City.

Yesterday I went to Carson [City],” she said. “… It takes me an hour to get there [but] I’d rather go there than Safeway with all the tourists.”

While scuttlebutt says the crowds have swelled this pandemic summer, the data tracking how many people are here points to a decrease overall, as compared to last year. Yet some do hypothesize that the type or behavior of visitors has shifted — with more permanent second home owners and an increase of day trippers. Overall, it’s an ambiguous picture that local jurisdictions are grappling to understand.

It seems contradictory,” said Cindy Gustafson, supervisor for Placer County. “A lot of houses are occupied, we can see that in our neighborhoods and people report that they’re seeing houses in their neighborhood that they haven’t seen occupied like this before. Then you dive into the data and it doesn’t correlate with all of this.”

KILL ‘EM WITH KINDNESS: Residents from Incline Village recently gathered to protest the amount of trash being left in the area. Photo by Nina Miller/Moonshine Ink

A numbers game

The visitor tax:

A useful source for putting a hard number to visitors in the area is the Transient Occupancy Tax, paid by guests in short-term rentals. The TOT is documented quarterly, with the most recent quarter encompassing April 1 to June 30. Truckee received $276,358 for this quarter, down 59% from the same quarter in 2019 ($669,932).

Eastern Placer saw its own plunge in the most recent quarter’s TOT collection: dropping to $1.1 million from 2019’s $3.6 million. 

Comparing April through June 2019 to April through June 2020, the number of units being occupied each night decreased by 73%, from 105,649 to 28,517. Note that those numbers are not the total number of units available for rent, but a total of nights booked. (For example, if one house offers 50 nights available for rent during one quarter, and people stay at that location 100% of that availability, the unit contributes 50 to the total occupancy count.)

Those counts come from individuals registered through Placer County’s short-term rental system — aka the holders of TOT certificates, which is currently 4,351 in Eastern Placer.

We have worked hard the last few years to get our vacation rentals that are listed, particularly those that are listed online platforms, TOT certificates,” said Erin Casey from Placer County’s economic development office in Tahoe City. “We’ve been pretty diligent about that so I would say that these numbers don’t reflect 100% of every single vacation rental that’s out there, but it’s not far off.”

There are a few asterisks with the TOT: One, of course, is that COVID-19 and the resulting closures affected the number of people visiting the area in springtime; second and third, the TOT does not measure property owners who might normally rent their homes but instead are living in them nor lodging being rented for longer than 30 days — both of which could add additional bodies to Tahoe without contributing money to the TOT.

Post-flush: 

One solid way to gauge the volume of people in an area is to track the amount of water that is flushed and gushed. According to influent flow data (think toilets and showers) from the Tahoe-Truckee Sanitation Agency’s water reclamation plant, there have been less people here this year, as compared to last. 

For June and July of 2019, an average of 4.45 million gallons per day (MGD) flowed into the plant. In 2020, the average dropped to 3.88 MGD. To put it more simply, the TTSA wastewater treatment facility is seeing roughly 570,000 gallons of sewage flow per day less than seen last year; that number is equivalent to about 7,000 less people on a daily basis.

The table below shows the five member entities feeding TTSA’s wastewater treatment facility, and the difference between flows from June and July of 2019 to June and July of 2020.

Contributing Flows to TTSA’s Water Reclamation Plant, in MGD
District June/July 2019 June/July 2020 Difference from 2019 to 2020 Difference in number of people*
North Tahoe Public Utility District 0.96 0.82 – 0.14 – 1,747
Tahoe City Public Utility District 0.96 0.87 – 0.087 – 1,090
Alpine Springs Community Water District 0.08 0.05 – 0.03 – 372
Squaw Valley Public Service District  0.21 0.18 – 0.039 – 491
Truckee Sanitation District 2.24 1.96 – 0.27 – 3,397
Total Difference in Number of People – 7,097

 

* Based on 200 gallons per day per household, and an average household of 2.5 people, which are the metrics TTSA uses.

On the road again:

Traffic counts, too, have dipped. According to Raquel Borrayo with Caltrans District 3, “traffic counts decreased during COVID stay-at-home orders” from March through July 2020 when compared to the same months the previous year, though the drop was much less dramatic during the latter months.

On State Route 89, at the junction of Pole Creek Road, there was a 38% decrease in car counts between March 2019 and 2020. Between the Julys of the two years, it was a 6% decrease (from approximately 49,000 to 46,000).

On State Route 267, at Brockway Summit, March to March saw a 30% decrease, while July to July saw a 7% dip.

Contrary to decreased traffic on the roads, traffic on trails has gone up. The Dollar Creek bike path has seen its user number increase by 129% — from 333 last year to 762 this year during the last two weeks in July, according to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

One man’s trash:

Kelli Hare, who works in operations with Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal, told Moonshine that trash tonnages are tracked by month, and the totals from July 2019 compared to July 2020 have slightly decreased overall, “likely due to many commercial businesses either closed or on limited service.” The disposal company’s service area spans from Tahoe’s west shore, from Emerald Bay up and over to Crystal Bay, northwest to Truckee, and west almost all the way to Colfax.

However, she continued, campgrounds in the area “are seeing more trash and requiring more service than ever before. Some of them to the point that they’ve doubled their service.” Public trash receptacles at beaches are also seeing heavy use. 

In light of this increased stress on trash-collection infrastructure, Placer County temporarily added three additional trash bins in Kings Beach, and increased pickup service frequency in Tahoe City. Additional signage for garbage bins is also being put in place, advising people to keep trash with them if a bin is full.

In the residential sector, Hare said bear box collection has peaked and been a collection issue. “[They] are being packed full of loose, messy trash instead of being utilized to house one to two neat cans or being empty,” Hare said. “A bear box is intended to be a shed for garbage cans to be placed in, not as a mini-dumpster with loose items just strewn in.”

THE REGULAR CROWD: Placer County Supervisor Cindy Gustafson told Moonshine Ink that attitudes by Tahoe locals have “almost sounded like racism, it’s kind of localism. ‘If you’re not a local, you aren’t deserving to be here.’ I think that’s really unfortunate and I think we have to try to dig deep and be tolerant and try to understand who are these people.” Photo by Wade Snider/Moonshine Ink

Can you hear me now?

As part of continued efforts to put a number to people on the streets and sidewalks of Truckee,  the town is monitoring the amount of calls going into the police department and Truckee Fire Protection District — for which recent weekend numbers for each are shared below:

Number of Calls Received During Key 2020 Summer Weekends in Truckee

The Town of Truckee and Placer County requested visitors avoid coming to the region from July 23 through at least the weekend of Aug. 17

July 10-12 July 17-19 July 24-26 July 31- Aug. 2 Aug. 7-9 Aug. 14-16
Truckee Police Department 148 calls 166 calls 181 calls 207 calls 195 calls 216 calls
Truckee Fire Protection District 31 calls 32 calls 33 calls 31 calls 33 calls 48 calls

 

The overall trend this summer shows an increase as the season progressed. When compared to similar weekends in 2019, there’s an uptick, both to the police (875 in 2019; 1,113 in 2020) and to the fire district (189 in 2019; 208 in 2020).

Merrily, merrily: 

Hordes on the Truckee River between Tahoe City and Alpine Meadows have been seen all summer, with rafts practically being bumper cars on sections. According to data, the heavy majority comes from private parties. 

“The traffic on the river is over 70% public and the two raft companies are 30%,” said Aaron Rudnick, owner of Truckee River Raft Co. “Because we have cut back there is more unregulated rafting (public) than ever.”

The percentages come from a river monitor, required by Placer County, who keeps track of the orange paddles (Rudnick’s business), yellow paddles (Mountain Air Sports), and whatever colors the rest of the public uses. The hard numbers aren’t finalized yet for 2020, Rudnick said, though the percentages are accurate.

“Even in a normal year,” he continued, “both raft companies combined are about 50% [of the river crowds].”

Truckee River Raft Co. and Mountain Air Sports are voluntarily operating at about 50% capacity, so there’s no record-breaking opportunities business-wise, but spots do fill up fast. Truckee River Raft Co. is often sold out at least a week in advance. Guests have told Rudnick that even the nearby Shell and Chevron gas stations, which normally have storage containers filled with inflatable rafts, have run out.

On the other hand, Andrew Laughlin, owner of Tahoe City Kayak, has been joking with his staff that kayaks are the new toilet paper. Kayak and paddle board rentals have been good — great even; the tents at Commons Beach and Sand Harbor have seen a steady flow of interested parties heading out on the lake (which doesn’t deal with the same capacity constraints as the Truckee River).

“I’m not going to say from a rental perspective this is going to be our top summer,” Laughlin told Moonshine, “but it’s anything but a bust.”

On the retail side of things, however, “nothing’s come close,” he continued. “The hardest part this summer has been getting inventory because a lot of vendors were shut down for two, three, four months, so they’re starting the busy selling season on probably what is the highest demand summer for paddle boards in our lifetime.”

Orders that would normally take a few days have jumped up to 10 weeks for arrival.

Tahoe City Kayak isn’t actively trying to boost its business — and that was something Laughlin really wanted to point to. In addition to spacing people out, installing plexiglass, providing hand sanitizer, and using touchless payment and waiver systems, the store has pulled back on its advertising more than ever in its history.

“The people are here and what I’m providing is spacing them apart,” he explained. “I’m not trying to actively reel more of them to this place.”

Who Are You?

The numbers presented above indicate that overall there hasn’t been a dramatic increase in people in Tahoe/Truckee. Several sources say the perceived increase might be a matter of a shift in who has been up here, but putting a finger on that information is proving elusive. 

“People are pointing fingers trying to blame visitors and short-term rentals and day visitors,” Gustafson said. “I don’t think we know everything we need to know — and even then I don’t think we should blame others. People are doing a lot of finger pointing and assuming, making a lot of assumptions that I don’t think are grounded yet. We haven’t had time to really understand what we’re dealing with.”

Even still, in the midst of sorting through the numbers and fielding community concerns from all corners of the region, Placer and the Town of Truckee elected to put out a notice to visitors last month. On July 23, the two jurisdictions jointly penned a plea for people to avoid visiting the region on weekends through at least Aug. 17. After that point, the message read, visitor numbers will “subside to more manageable levels.”

The plea wasn’t necessarily based on data, Gustafson said, but the fact that her office was receiving so many complaints about the increase in visitors. Truckee Mayor David Polivy said that admittedly, there hasn’t been the decrease everyone was hoping for since the joint letter was distributed, but neither have they seen the normal end-of-summer rush. 

“We really thought the first two weeks of August we were going to see this last-ditch spike to go enjoy the mountains or the lake, and we didn’t see that,” he said. “We saw sort of a flatlining, which again, sort of speaks to the fact that people just chose to come up here for the summer and just stay a little longer.”

A recent survey of the Tahoe Donner Association’s members reflects that idea. According to Lindsay Hogan, head of communications and member relations for the homeowner’s association, 12% of the 3,177 respondents shared that while they weren’t using their homes as a permanent residence prior to COVID-19, they are now.

Jeff Cowan, public information officer for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, pointed out there could be multiple reasons visitor pressure seems higher but traffic counts are lower.

“It’s the character and makeup of the trips that’s changed,” Cowan wrote in an email. “We know that year-in and year-out, about 50% of trips [in] the Basin are residents, and 50% are day and overnight visitors. Trip counts may be down … but with fewer residents on the road, the difference is most likely an uptick in visitors — and possibly a significant one. Many residents aren’t commuting, taking kids to school/sports, and eating out. Also, many part-time residents are here for a longer period and may be travelling more like a full-time resident than usual.”

Gustafson, who lives in Tahoe City, has noticed her own second homeowner friends have been in town more often this summer than ever before.

“There’s a lot of second homeowners using their homes, and maybe it’s the owners themselves, maybe it’s their kids, or their family members using their home, but they’ve taken it out of the rental pool for now,” she said. “Or [they’re] not renting it. That doesn’t mean the houses are empty, though.”

Liz Bowling with the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association said day visitors likely play a large role in the increased crowds. Because day visitors don’t stay the night in lodging and they might not necessarily be patronizing restaurants or businesses, putting a number to that swell is difficult to do.

“There are a couple different agencies that are tracking cars and cell phone data,” Bowling said, “but that’s not always telling the full story. That’s just one consideration to keep in mind: that yes, we’ve seen a decrease in what occupancy looks like with our lodging, but it’s important to remember that this day visitor does account for a lot.” 

In response to the vast amount of information spread thinly across multiple organizations and agencies, Placer County’s Erin Casey did say the county is hoping to pull together a dashboard in the future that can provide the data needed on visitors of all types and lengths of stay. 

“I think that’s one way that we could better understand our visitor, our occupancy, the number of people in our area, the way in which the curve fluctuates up here, etc.,” Casey shared. “That’s one thing that we are really looking at doing: really updating that information as often as we can and sharing that as widely as we can so we can all have some understanding of that.”

A few years ago, the Tahoe Truckee Transportation District turned to cell phone data to track the volume, genesis, and movement of visitors to the Basin. In the data set purchased from February, July, and August of 2014, the TTD found that the average daily population around Lake Tahoe is four times higher than the permanent residential population. This 2014 information, however, is the most recent available. According to Cowan with the TRPA, new data will be available next year. 

NOT IN OUR HOUSE: A house in Meyers advertised its views on the number of visitors to the Tahoe region. Photo courtesy Josh Lease

The residents clap back

Anecdotes of increased tourists and trash went from social media complaints to the streets over a recent weekend, sparked by Josh Lease, a resident on Lake Tahoe’s south shore. Lease encouraged fellow residents to “demand respect” for the area by congregating at roundabouts around the lake with signs asking passersby to take care of their trash.

It was something suggested and the community took over,” Lease told Moonshine of the demonstrations, or “outcries,” as he referred to them. “Not just the local community, but the whole lake itself was like, wow, let’s get on this.”

About 100 to 120 people showed up to the Friday, Aug. 14, Meyers demonstration, and about 40 or so did on Sunday, Lease said. The interactions between those with signs and those driving by in cars was mostly respectful, with some drivers even passing out Gatorade, water bottles, and snacks. However, some phrases Lease heard people shout from passing vehicles included, “We don’t litter; we’re White” and “It’s okay, our tax dollars pick up our trash.”

Demonstrations were also held in Incline Village, Tahoe City, and Truckee.

“The North Shore rallies weren’t organized,” explained Laura Read in an email, who attended the gatherings in Tahoe City. “They were crowdsourced — inspired by Josh Lease’s post to hold roundabout rallies in five locations. I posted about the events and asked people for sign ideas. But the effort had a life of its own energized by unrest in the communities.”

According to Read, about 15 to 20 people attended the Friday afternoon event in Tahoe City; and 10 on Sunday morning.

“The roundabout rallies had short notice, so it’s understandable there weren’t more people there,” she wrote. “However, each person standing with a sign represented hundreds of people — both visitors and residents — who have been speaking out with friends, at public meetings, via letters to leaders, and on social media about the need for leaders to take immediate action against litter and trash along roadways and in public places.”

Read is the creator of a new Facebook page called Tahoe in Balance, which looks at “problems vexing residents and homeowners at Lake Tahoe right now,” she wrote: fire danger, traffic congestion, excessive litter, and overcrowding.

“The Tahoe story is about more than just beauty, vacation, and entertainment,” Read stated in her email. “It is also about how residents, homeowners, and employees have worked hard to preserve the lake and make their communities function well; how they’ve imbued the various towns, cities, and neighborhoods with distinct characters that visitors also value; and how they’ll keep striving to sustain the Lake Tahoe sense of place.”

In an Aug. 22 post on the Truckee Tahoe Litter Group page, Truckee resident Mone’ Haen, along with a number of other locals who added their names to the post, pleaded for the town council to take a more active role in mitigation efforts for COVID-19, short-term rentals, and fire danger.

The community has continually provided public comment and input regarding concerns to all of the aforementioned issues,” the statement read. “Our concerns as constituents have been ignored and the underlying threats of COVID, fire, and record numbers of tourists to the area have been swept under the rug in order to preserve the short-term interests of a small number of businesses that benefit from summer tourism.”

To date, 89 people have added their name to the open letter.

Winter is coming

Tahoe’s summer appeal — the cool-water lakes, hiking trails, and stunning scenery — isn’t as bound by weather (minus current wildfires and resulting smoke) and whether or not resorts are open. Come winter, however, ski resorts drive much of the market. While a question mark remains on the full-fledged functioning of the resorts, there’s also concern for how restaurants and other outside-only businesses will handle the snow.

“In regards to lost revenue for [restaurants], once it gets cold, they’re right back [to curbside pickup or delivery only],” Leve of the Tahoe Truckee Litter Group said. “They’re screwed right now. They’ve got another four to eight weeks at best of outside dining … Pessimistically, it’s going to get cold so there’s going to be no dining again. They’re going to be back to take-out only so nothing’s changed.”

The Town of Truckee, however, is thinking ahead.

Mayor Polivy says there’s a plan in place to aid downtown Truckee: “We’re working on some grant applications right now. There is a core group of the [Truckee Donner Merchant Association], Sierra Business Council, selected town staff, [and] we’re working on a fairly robust grant application to the county utilizing CARES Act emergency funding to potentially create some type of downtown winter experience.”

With that plan is the consideration of businesses beyond the core downtown area, Polivy added.

Dementia Discharge

BY ALEX HOEFT AND MAYUMI ELEGADO | Moonshine Ink

Around 7 a.m. on the morning of April 20, Charles Borden, known as Bill by friends and family, was upset.

He’d left the room he shared with his wife, Beverly, at the Tahoe Forest Health System’s long-term care center to fill two cups of water. When he came back, two certified nursing assistants, one named Guadalupe “Lupe” Muñoz, were helping his wife get out of her bed and into her wheelchair.

Bill expressed his agitation through curse words, set down the water cups, and elbowed Muñoz in the back.

It wasn’t his first outburst in 24 hours. The previous day, Bill, who’s diagnosed with dementia, had been alone in the care center’s dining room with another resident named Cathy when he’d struck her in the back.

The two incidents were seemingly the last straw for the care facility. Maggie Link, director of the skilled nursing facility, made the decision on the morning of April 20 to transfer Bill to the Tahoe Forest Hospital emergency room for evaluation. Bill’s doctor, Gregg Paul, backed up the decision, which stated Borden’s welfare and needs couldn’t be met at the facility and cited concern for the safety of individuals on site.

It’s now been nearly four months since the Bordens, married for 55 years and reportedly rarely apart, have seen each other.

Physically, they’re not far from one another — a few hundred feet or so of walls, windows, and the TFHS’s willpower separate the two. Bill waits in the medical/surgery unit at the hospital while Beverly remains in the first-floor room they shared for two and a half years, located on the south end of the hospital campus. The Bordens ask for each other every day, able to connect via FaceTime, but nothing more.

Fighting for their unification is their son Jon Borden, who’s poured his time and energy into asking, begging, and then legally demanding his father be allowed to return to Beverly’s side.

But the hospital district administration just won’t budge, continuing to express its concern for the safety of staff and residents alike. However, TFHS’s refusal goes against what multiple state agencies have ruled: that the hospital did not follow protocol in either transferring Bill nor allowing him to return to the care facility, and that he should legally and rightfully be reunited with his wife until proper steps can be taken.

The situation has floored even those who are so often in the midst of and defending rights for nursing home residents. Mike Dark, staff attorney with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), told Moonshine his organization sees hundreds, maybe thousands of abuse and neglect cases a year from the nearly 1,300 nursing homes across the state. CANHR is a small organization, and often doesn’t have the time nor resources to help every person who calls.

But Bill’s case is “among the worst I have ever seen,” Dark said. “And that is partly because it involves a married couple that were living together, spending their last time together in a facility. We had the facility go so far as to accuse Mr. Borden, a man with dementia, of posing an unlawful danger of violence, which is a terribly cruel thing to do even if it’s part of a legal strategy they have. I don’t understand as human beings why they thought that was okay.”

After Bill was looked over by emergency room staff and then denied readmittance to the care facility — information that was shared with his son Jon, Kathy Freeman, Nevada County volunteer ombudsman, stepped in.

“He called and he asked a very good question: He said, do I need to get an attorney?” Freeman recalled. “I said, you know, I think you do.”

She also told Jon to not pick up his father. When he refused to pick Bill up from the ER, Jon received a call from the hospital’s risk manager, Todd Johnson. The following is what Jon told Moonshine was said, and what he declared to the Superior Court of the State of California for Nevada County:

“Jon,” Johnson said over the phone, “you really need to come pick up your dad.”

“I was advised not to.”

“If you don’t come pick him up, he’s going to be sleeping on a plastic chair in the ER.”

Jon said at this point he was crying and couldn’t figure out what to do.

But Johnson wasn’t finished: “Or I can discharge him to the homeless shelter.”

TFHS: Mum’s the word

It’s not that the facility wanting Bill out of their care was illegal — there are multiple state laws and regulations protecting residents from illegal eviction; rather, the manner in which administrative staff went about attempting to discharge him is what resulted in a state citation and continuing civic penalties since July 16 and until Bill is readmitted to the care facility. And at least for the time being, with the type of care Bill needs and most nursing homes not accepting new patients in the pandemic, Bill remains in the emergency room rather than a shelter.

Both the California Department of Public Health and the Department of Health Care Services ruled that TFHS violated the bed-hold policy that requires notification of a resident’s bed being held for seven days after a transfer or therapeutic leave; the return policy that allows a resident to return to their bed after a transfer or leave; and a violation of the discharge planning process.

Additionally, the CDPH pointed to the failure of implementing a care plan which resulted in the lack of safety for Cathy, the resident with whom Bill had physical and verbal encounters.

Pursuant to California Health and Safety Code section 1425, the hospital is currently being fined $50 each day until Bill returns to extended care. That cost is in addition to a $2,000 penalty for violating a patient’s rights. These monetary citations are regulated by the CDPH.

Information presented in this article came from state agency and court rulings, as well as interviews with those involved. Despite publicly available documentation on the case, which includes the names of individuals involved, TFHS declined to comment on the situation, pointing to the pending litigation, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (more commonly known as HIPAA), California Medical Information Act, and confidentiality for this case specifically.

As power of attorney for both his parents, Jon gave permission for the hospital to comment on the situation based on what was already publicly available, but the hospital maintained its silence.

“We do understand that sometimes community members or their representatives will contact local media to attempt to create pressure to influence a certain outcome,” wrote Paige Thomason, marketing and communications director for the health system, in an email. “[TFHS] is committed to ensuring optimal safety for all of our patients and team members, including those involved in this inquiry.”

Thomason further explained that because the health system can’t provide direct comments regarding the case, “the community should understand our legal and ethical restrictions and our responsibility to protect the privacy and personal circumstances of all of our patients.”

The hospital’s in-house counsel, Matt Mushet, shared a similar statement.

No care for the care plan

Bill’s proximity to both Muñoz and Cathy could’ve been avoided.

In fact, based on a care plan created March 4 of this year, neither of the women should’ve been anywhere near him.

As an ombudsman, Freeman’s role is a semi-neutral one: while she advocates for residents at long-term care facilities throughout Nevada County, she also utilizes mediation tactics to work with care center staff. Freeman had met Bill and Beverly at the end of 2019, shortly after she’d begun volunteering in her role. She was thus aware of his past outbursts and attended the care plan conference, meeting Jon there for the first time.

“We were very aware of the concerns the facility had and we were trying to work with the facility [regarding Bill],” Freeman said. “I especially was interested in trying to find a path that would bring both the facility and the family together, and I thought we had that up until March. I really thought we were working with the facility and coming up with a care plan that would work.”

Leading up to the March meeting, the care facility had implemented numerous interventions to help Bill feel more comfortable, as reported in the Cal-DHCS decision. These methods included adjusting medication, evaluating his psychiatric state, and refocusing him to positive behaviors. In February, Bill had been temporarily discharged from the Tahoe Forest Hospital facility and sent to Senior Bridges of Northern Nevada Medical Center for evaluations and medication adjustment. Ultimately it was determined that a change in medication would not change Bill’s behaviors. He was readmitted to the TFH facility on Feb. 12.

During the conference, it was recognized by all the parties, Jon said, that his father had two triggers when it came to his violent outbursts: Muñoz and Cathy. The game plan was to minimize interactions with trigger situations or people.

“We all agreed,” he continued. “… It wasn’t me talking — it was during a care conference meeting which Dr. Paul was present; Maggie [Link] was present; Todd Johnson, the risk manager, was present; Laura Murtha, the supervisor, was present; Kathy [Freeman], the ombudsman. It was a group of educated, hands-on people, and Maggie should’ve walked out the door and gave her marching orders to her staff. And nothing really happened.”

In an interview with the CDPH on April 28, Muñoz told the agency representative, “I was never told not to go into [Bill’s] room.” Other certified nursing assistants interviewed confirmed that they also weren’t informed of the care plan.

On April 20, Freeman notified her program manager, Sergio Landeros, and her office of the alarming situation unfolding, that Bill had been barred from returning to the long-term care facility without proper protocol being followed. She also cross-reported the unfolding circumstances to the state department of health on April 21. The ombudsman program HQ, realizing the unlawfulness of the situation, reached out to CANHR, a frequent partner for legal support.

By April 22, CANHR’s Dark, officially representing Bill, had also requested an investigation with the CDHCS.

A DHCS hearing was held on May 5, and by May 15 the agency had issued the decision that Bill be readmitted to the long-term care facility. According to Jon’s declaration to the Nevada County superior court, three days later, Karen Baffone, chief nursing officer for the hospital, called Jon and told him his father would not be readmitted, despite the DHCS decision.

On June 9, the CDPH issued its own findings in the form of a statement of deficiencies, which lists out state violations committed by the health facility and requires a plan of correction for each violation in return.

In an Aug. 3 email, Olivia Tucker, an attorney with the agency, told Dark the TFHS has not submitted an acceptable corrective plan. In addition to the continuing civil penalty applied each day from July 16 until Bill is readmitted, Tucker explained that the CDPH plans to issue a directed plan of correction, meaning the facility must take constructive action within certain timeframes.

“As the facility has not had a previous refusal to readmit or transfer discharge violation in the past 12 months, CDPH is unable to treble the state citation penalty,” Tucker wrote. “Moreover, CDPH will alert DHCS so they may exercise their enforcement authority. And CDPH has notified [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] that CDPH has not yet received an acceptable [plan of correction] to address the federal deficiency.

“Finally, CDPH will continue to … treat this situation with the utmost care and seriousness it deserves.”

Dissolved, not resolved

On June 23, the hospital doubled down on its refusal to readmit Bill by filing a petition for a workplace violence restraining order with the superior court in Nevada County — an attempt to protect Muñoz from further aggression by Bill. This petition came after both the CDPH and the DHCS issued their decisions. The temporary restraining order (TRO) was granted on June 24, with a hearing set for July 13.

“These restraining orders, it’s like a kind of person who shows up with a gun at work, the kind of person who punches out a secretary working in a corporate office,” Dark said. “They brought that kind of petition for workplace violence against an 80-year-old man with dementia who couldn’t lift a half gallon of milk because they so couldn’t bear being forced legally to readmit him and bring him back to his wife, even if only for long enough for the family to try to find another place to go once the pandemic had passed.”

He saw the TRO as another attempt at barring Bill from the long-term care facility; a “proactive move,” as Dark described it, by the hospital to prevent the enforcement of the CDHCS and CDPH orders.

During the restraining order hearing, outside counsel for the hospital, Jon di Cristina, told Judge Angela Bradrick that the hospital intended to appeal the health care services decision. Moonshine was unable to confirm with the hospital whether this has been done.

On July 15, Judge Bradrick ruled that, while recognizing that TFHS’s claims that it no longer has “the capacity to treat someone with [Bill’s] behavior problems,” the appropriate procedure to remove Borden from the care facility was not followed. Additionally, “the court finds that [Bill’s] medical condition (dementia) explains and/or excuses his unlawful violence.”

The temporary restraining order was immediately dissolved with the judge’s ruling.

It’s not you, it’s us

The transfer of Bill to the emergency room followed by a refusal of readmittance to the long-term care facility is actually a common tactic countrywide. Formally, it’s known as an illegal discharge; casually, it’s been called patient dumping.

“What this really comes down to is the fact that there’s lots of incentives for nursing homes to want to get rid of certain patients,” Dark said, describing patients “who are difficult, patients who are emotional, who cry a lot, who ask for lots of attention.” He said throughout the state, facilities do “things like put a person who’s paralyzed in a wheelchair and park them under an overpass. They will take someone and put them in a homeless shelter. They’ll put them in a motel, they’ll buy them two nights and then they’ll walk away.”

But “maybe the most troubling kind of patient dumping that happens involves people often with behavioral problems, often with dementia, at nursing homes who are sent out to an emergency room for something,” Dark explained. “It can be that they have a UTI and they’re delirious; it could be there was an incident involving staff; it could be they have a slight fever.”

Once the patient is out the door, the facility refuses to readmit him or her.

Dark says this refusal of readmission is so common that laws have actually been put in place to try to prevent it. One of these laws involves a seven-day bed-hold — basically, the facility must keep the patient’s bed open for seven days, inform the resident and/or representative of this hold, and readmit the resident if wanted.

Landeros, who oversees ombudsmen (volunteer or not) across seven California counties, echoed Dark’s comments regarding patient dumping and pointed to facilities commonly invoking section 5150 state code that allows an adult who is experiencing a mental health crisis to be involuntarily detained. It’s used in situations “where you’re having a so-called aggressive resident [you don’t] want to deal with anymore,” he said, “and [you]’re trying to find ways to get rid of the person.”

(Jon speculated that because his father is ambulatory and most other residents are confined to wheelchairs or other walking aids, he’s more of an annoyance to long-term care center staff. “Dr. Paul already told me, if your father wasn’t mobile we’d have no problem with him,” Jon said.)

Another reason long-term care facilities might look to oust patients is financial. Like many facilities, TFHS is certified to accept Medicare and Medi-Cal as forms of coverage. But there’s a history preceding the back end of this coverage, Landeros explained.

“Nursing homes were designed to be a temporary place,” he said. “It wasn’t designed for you to be there the remainder of your life. But as the aging population is growing and as more and more older adults are being placed long term in a nursing home because they need 24-hour care, there is such thing as a long-term care service.”

Medicare serves as a federal health insurance program for those over 65. Medical bills are covered through the trust funds of those who’ve paid into them. Medi-Cal, essentially California’s version of Medicaid, steps in as an assistance program for low-income individuals or those whose Medicare funds have run out. The asterisk in many long-term care facilities is that Medi-Cal does not pay the same amount as Medicare.

“Sometimes, especially if patients are on Medi-Cal,” Dark furthered, “they maybe are bringing in $300 a day, whereas if they can get a patient on MediCare, they could be making $1,000 a day … But [Medicare] only lasts for up to 90 days, more frequently 30 days. Nursing homes like Medicare patients because those 30 days are lucrative days. But then at the end of those 30 days, they’re in a bind because they don’t want to keep them.”

Hence, the second common method of patient dumping, continued Landeros: getting rid of Medi-Cal residents because facilities want to have more open beds for Medicare patients who can come in for temporary rehab, then leave after a few weeks.

Both Bill and Beverly are covered through Medi-Cal, having run through their Medicare coverage at a previous facility.

Freeman emphasized that while dementia patients may be difficult, “[nursing facilities] are supposed to provide proper protection of all residents, they’re supposed to provide proper supervision. If that involves a specialized staffing that’s one of the things that they’re to provide,” she said. “Most importantly, though, the home itself — and I’m talking generically here — any nursing facility should be able to have people who are trained in dementia care.”

Additionally, Dark says, hospitals are paid by public money for doing so. “These nursing homes will get 9, 10, 12, $15,000 a month to care for them. So yes they’re expected to deal with it but yes they’re also compensated for it very well.”

Jon isn’t the first person to have TFHS staff eager to push his parent out. Larry Hahn, owner of Coldstream Adventures, said his own mom was a resident at the facility for nearly three years. Hahn pointed to the money aspect as to why his mother was discriminated against (she didn’t have Medicare), as well as her unruliness.

“They were trying to get me to get her out of there and I refused to do it,” Hahn said. “A couple times they had all her luggage and everything on the curb of the care facility when I was supposed to pick her up for a day event.”

Hahn didn’t have the resources to give his mom the care she needed, and because he refused, the hospital administration would allegedly make him feel guilty: “‘You would do this to your mother?’” he said of their comments.

Direct care staff was always kind to his mother, Hahn said. It was the admin staff that dished out the attempts at discharge. Jon, too, pointed to the health system’s administration as the main culprit.

In response to general questions about the long-term care center, not related to specific patients, the hospital also declined to comment.

No more Mr. Nice Guy

No one who spoke with Moonshine could put their finger on exactly why the hospital is disregarding state decisions and dealing with daily fines to prevent Bill from returning to the facility. But they have their ideas.

IN THE PAST: Jon Borden and his children, Avian and Stephen, visited Bill Borden at Tahoe Forest Hospital for Father’s Day in June 2020. Photo courtesy Jon Borden

“I think it’s because they made a poor decision and, it’s like when you’re going through a legal battle, you can’t show that you’re bleeding so you have to double down on your decisions,” Jon said. “It’s more than doubled.”

Dark questioned whether the motive could be financial, or if there are political concerns at play.

The financial hits so far to the health system could expand if compliance isn’t met or an appeal doesn’t waive the current charges. Landeros said that if a care facility receives multiple citations, the CDPH can actually stop them from receiving more Medicare patients until the actions deemed deficient are corrected.

That would be a bigger blow than the citations the hospital is currently dealing with, which are often, as Landeros stated, more like a “slap on the wrist” to health facilities.

“That’s just my vision of it,” he said. “Some facilities will comply and fix the issue. In this case, if the facility took back the resident and promised to solve it right … But most cases the facility will just take a citation and try to go on with their business and things like that.”

A class action lawsuit filed against the California Department of Health and Human Services is demanding state agencies to better enforce hearing decisions. Matt Borden (no relation) is an attorney involved with the case who included Bill’s situation as part of his case. Moonshine reached out to Matt for comment, but did not receive a response.

Jon provided an official declaration for the lawsuit, laying out the situation over two pages. He also says he may file a civil lawsuit, too.

“I don’t even know, I think four people need to lose their jobs,” Jon said, referring to Mushet, hospital counsel; Link, director of the care facility; Karen Baffone, chief nursing officer; and Dr. Paul, his father’s physician at the facility. “I can’t believe the care my parents have not been able to see and they’ve been neglected because of this whole legal game.”

The events that have taken place since April 20 resulted in an about-face in what was a decent relationship between Jon and the hospital. During the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic hitting Truckee, Jon says he received a call from Ted Owens, executive director over governance and business development.

As a backup plan for a potential COVID-19 case surge and spill-over into the hospital’s long-term care facility, Owens allegedly asked Jon (who owns the Truckee Donner Lodge and the Inn at Truckee) if the hospital might place its facility residents in Jon’s lodging, and Jon agreed.

“I had memorandums of understanding with the hospital,” he said. “Fast forward a week later, this shit happened with my dad and they [went from] my ally to my biggest enemy in one phone call.”

During the first couple of months of the situation, Jon said he was trying to play nice and give the hospital the opportunity to do the right thing. Now, however, he feels differently. He’s reached out directly to a TFHS board member with all the documentation to make sure the official was aware of the situation, but hasn’t heard back. Moonshine reached out to all five board members, also with no response.

COVID-19’s presence has put a freeze on the transfer of residents to new long-term care facilities, which is why Bill has remained in the hospital. But once restrictions lift, Jon says he can’t wait to move his parents out of TFHS: “I trust the hospital as far as I can throw them.”

A week shy of Bill’s four-month mark of separation from Beverly, and he’s had zero incidents or outbursts, according to Jon.

Because the situation is still ongoing, Dark explained that he and Jon have to walk a careful line.

“The family’s really terribly angry at what the district did, but we’re so dependent on them doing the right thing, too,” he said. “What we want most of all, whatever our anger, is for Bill and Bevrerly to be reunited … This is a family that has really been split in a terrible time of crisis and even if it’s just for a few months, even if [the health system] continue[s] to pursue their other legal avenues, I sure hope they do the right thing.”

Guide to the Tahoe/Truckee General Election, November 2020

With everything else 2020 has had to offer, the General Election is still on. Following is a quick overview of what’s happening on a national, statewide, and local level. Think of it as CliffsNotes Lite — aka, please still do your homework!

Let’s get into it.

All Californians eligible to vote will receive a vote-by-mail ballot prior to the Nov. 3 election. This mail option is in addition to in-person voting locations. Nevada, too, plans to stick to the same vote-by-mail process used for the Primary Election, meaning those registered will receive a mail-in ballot, though a number of live voting locations will also exist. Finalized voter information guides will be available for both Nevada and California residents in the fall, listing out statewide propositions to be decided on in the voter booth.

Propositions to appear on the California ballot include increased funding for public schools K-12; allowing diversity as a consideration for employment, education, and contract decisions; and restoring the right to vote after a completed prison term.

In Nevada, proposed petitions include an increase in the Local School Support Tax, from 8.32% to 9.73%; a change to Nevada’s Primary Election process, allowing voters to select candidates from any party regardless of the voter’s affiliation; and prohibiting physicians from knowingly performing abortions on minors unless a parent/guardian is notified or a Nevada court authorizes the action.

But now, a deeper dive on a local level. First is a look at key races in the region, followed by important decisions facing local registered voters via ballot measures. A chart on p. 11 shows electable positions and current candidates (as of press deadline) that will appear on North Tahoe/Truckee ballots for the 2020 General Election.

Key points for key races

United States Congress, 4th District: Tom McClintock (R) has represented California’s 4th district in the U.S. House since 2009. During President Donald Trump’s tenure, McClintock has aligned his votes with Trump 87.9% of the time. In November, McClintock will go head-to-head against businesswoman Brynne Kennedy (D), whom he led in March’s Primary Election by roughly 30,000 votes (in total, 278,350 votes were cast for District 4 — 141,244 of which were for McClintock).

In a May survey performed by Lake Research Partners, the findings of which were published in late July, there was a “statistical dead heat in the race between” Kennedy and McClintock.

Both candidates have begun releasing ads for the November election. Key issues between the two include McClintock’s response to the COVID pandemic, which Kennedy has criticized; as well as healthcare and social security approaches. Kennedy’s campaign website, which includes a rundown of her priorities, is brynneforcongress.com.

McClintock’s campaign manager, Jon Huey, referred to a past social media post by Kennedy, stating she “misses authoritarian governments.” Other issues close to McClintock’s heart include economic growth, illegal immigration, and forest/water policies.

In his response to his Primary Election victory, McClintock pointed to the 4th District as “a beacon of hope against the socialist policies that are destroying California and threatening our nation.” McClintock’s own campaign efforts can be tracked at tommcclintock.com.

Truckee/North Lake Tahoe: There are a number of elections throughout the region that will shake up what representation there currently is.

Three spots are up for grabs within the Town of Truckee’s council of five. Not only will the majority of seats be competed for, but those victorious will play a role in the planning of the 2040 general plan and climate change action plan, as well as guidance of a new town manager and police chief.

Two other contested elections are also on the docket come press deadline: the Incline Village General Improvement District and the Truckee Tahoe Airport District.

Notable topics revolving around the airport district include increased air traffic, noise issues, and a considerable amount of discretionary funds as part of its healthy budget.

The IVGID, Incline Village’s quasi-town government, recently confirmed the appointment of Indra Winquest as its general manager on July 1. The new board members will help guide Winquest in his position.

A candidate forum for those competing in the region will be televised live from the Truckee town council chambers Sept. 9 and 10 at 6 p.m. In light of the pandemic, only candidates will be allowed to attend. More information will be provided as the forum draws closer.

Washoe County: Many Nevada offices up for vote will appear on Washoe County resident ballots, including United States Congress, 2nd District; Reno and Sparks city council spots; and district nonpartisan positions. For a full run-down of Washoe/Nevada offices up for election, visit washoecounty.us/voters/elections.

Ballot Measures

We teased a few state measures earlier and will focus on local actions below. To review statewide propositions for California, visit sos.ca.gov/elections/election-2020; for Nevada, see nvsos.gov/sos/elections/initiatives-referenda/2020-petitions.

Increasing Truckee’s TOT
On June 23, Truckee’s town council voted to place an option to increase the transient occupancy tax, aka hotel tax, by 2% on the November ballot. The proposed measure won’t raise taxes for residents, but for overnight hotel and short-term rental guests. Approximately $700,000 would come from this measure annually.

If approved by voters, the amassed funds will go toward workforce housing, wildfire preparation, and open space protection. More information on the potential funding is found at townoftruckee.com/government/town-manager/local-funding-measure.

This measure is the only Nevada County ballot measure affecting Truckee/North Tahoe residents.

Changing up the charter
Placer County’s charter, established in 1980, functions similarly to a constitution — it guides the organization and duties of elected and appointed officials. The current board of supervisors adopted and placed four changes on the November ballot. The updates, listed below, were suggested by a charter review committee.

1. All county elected officials must reside in Placer County, not just the supervisors, as is currently allowed. As of now, elected officers are required by law to be registered county voters at the time of appointment, but continued residency after that point is not mandatory.

2. The county’s civil service commission’s administrative and hearing duties would be split, with the admin duties moving to the human resources department. This change would pull technical and routine responsibilities and narrow the commission’s focus to resolving grievances and other personnel hearings.

3. Board supervisors need not approve appointments of nonelected department heads by the county executive officer.

4. Outdated procurement bid thresholds no longer consistent with state law will be stricken.

Each proposed measure simply requires a majority of the vote to pass. A full breakdown of these proposed changes, as reported by the charter review committee, can be found at placer.ca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/44540/06A.

There are nine additional measures for Placer County residents residing in Roseville and one for Auburn. A complete list of submitted measures can be found at placerelections.com/current-elections, under press releases and election notices, then notice of election.

El Dorado’s N, P, Q, R, S
El Dorado County has, to date, five measures on its November ballot, most of which revolve around upping special taxes. One, for example, in the city of South Lake Tahoe looks to establish a 1-cent sales tax to maintain a number of city services in the city. The others take place in El Dorado Hills, Cameron Park, and Placerville. The last measure is countywide and looks at the process of appointing a city treasurer.

Washoe County
The Reno, Sparks, and greater Truckee Meadows area will know which measures are to appear on the Washoe County ballot once the deadline date has passed, to happen the second week of August, after publication date.

District

Seats Available

Term

New Term Begins

LOCAL OFFICE

Donner Summit Public Utility District

Robert Sherwood*

3 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
El Dorado County Board of Education

Richard Fischer*

2 4-year Dec. 11, 2020
Incline Village General Improvement District (contested)

Matthew Dent*

Blane Johnson

Yolanda Knaak

Sara Schmitz*

Michaela Tonking

Frank Wright

3 4-year Jan. 1, 2021
Nevada County Board of Education (contested)

Louise B. Johnson (2-year)*

Susan Clarabut (2-year)*

Peggy Delgado Fava (2-year)

J. Timothy May (4-year)

4 (2) 2- or (2) 4-year Dec. 11 2020
North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District

James Costalupes*

Susan Herron*

Greg McKay*

3 4-year Jan. 4, 2021
North Tahoe Fire Protection District 3 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
North Tahoe Public Utility District

Phil Thompson*

Cathy Stewart

3 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Northstar Community Services District 3 2- or 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Placer County Board of Education (contested)

Rene Aguilera

Susan Goto*

Kelli Gnile*

David Patterson*

Lynn Oliver*

4 4-year Dec. 11, 2020
Squaw Valley Public Service District

Katy Hover-Smoot*

3 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Tahoe City Public Utility District

Judy Friedman*

3 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Tahoe Forest Hospital District

Alyce Wong*

Art King*

Michael C. McGarry*

3 (1) 2- or (2) 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Tahoe Truckee Unified School District 2 4-year Dec. 11, 2020
Town of Truckee Council

Jan Zabriskie (2-year)

Courtney Henderson (4-year)

Lindsay Romack (4-year)

3 (1) 2- or (2) 4-year Dec. 8, 2020
Truckee Donner Public Utility District

Jeff Bender*

Kimberly Harris

Cathy Stewart

3 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District (contested)

Jason Hansford*

Lori Marquette

Mark Tanner*

2 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Truckee Fire Protection District

Erin Prado*

Gerald Herrick*

2 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Truckee Sanitary District

Dennis Anderson*

Brian K. Smart*

2 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Truckee Tahoe Airport District (contested)

Rick Stephens*

David Diamond

Leigh Golden

Ken Aronson

Teresa O’Dette*

3 4-year Dec. 4, 2020

STATE LEGISLATURE

State Senate, 1st District

Brian Dahle (R)*

Pamela Swartz (D)

1 4-year Dec. 7, 2020
State Assembly, 1st District

Megan Dahle (R)*

Elizabeth Betancourt (D)

1 2-year Dec. 7, 2020
State Assembly, 5th District

Frank Bigelow (R)* (unopposed)

1 2-year Dec. 7, 2020

FEDERAL OFFICE

United States Congress, 1st District

Doug LaMalfa (R)*

Audrey Denney (D)

1 2-year Jan. 3, 2021
United States Congress, 4th District

Tom McClintock (R)*

Brynne Kennedy (D)

1 2-year Jan. 3, 2021
President of the United States

Donald Trump (R)*

Joe Biden (D)

1 4-year Jan. 20, 2021

*Incumbent

Guide to the Tahoe/Truckee General Election, November 2020

With everything else 2020 has had to offer, the General Election is still on. Following is a quick overview of what’s happening on a national, statewide, and local level. Think of it as CliffsNotes Lite — aka, please still do your homework!

Let’s get into it.

All Californians eligible to vote will receive a vote-by-mail ballot prior to the Nov. 3 election. This mail option is in addition to in-person voting locations. Nevada, too, plans to stick to the same vote-by-mail process used for the Primary Election, meaning those registered will receive a mail-in ballot, though a number of live voting locations will also exist. Finalized voter information guides will be available for both Nevada and California residents in the fall, listing out statewide propositions to be decided on in the voter booth.

Propositions to appear on the California ballot include increased funding for public schools K-12; allowing diversity as a consideration for employment, education, and contract decisions; and restoring the right to vote after a completed prison term.

In Nevada, proposed petitions include an increase in the Local School Support Tax, from 8.32% to 9.73%; a change to Nevada’s Primary Election process, allowing voters to select candidates from any party regardless of the voter’s affiliation; and prohibiting physicians from knowingly performing abortions on minors unless a parent/guardian is notified or a Nevada court authorizes the action.

But now, a deeper dive on a local level. First is a look at key races in the region, followed by important decisions facing local registered voters via ballot measures. A chart on p. 11 shows electable positions and current candidates (as of press deadline) that will appear on North Tahoe/Truckee ballots for the 2020 General Election.

Key points for key races

United States Congress, 4th District: Tom McClintock (R) has represented California’s 4th district in the U.S. House since 2009. During President Donald Trump’s tenure, McClintock has aligned his votes with Trump 87.9% of the time. In November, McClintock will go head-to-head against businesswoman Brynne Kennedy (D), whom he led in March’s Primary Election by roughly 30,000 votes (in total, 278,350 votes were cast for District 4 — 141,244 of which were for McClintock).

In a May survey performed by Lake Research Partners, the findings of which were published in late July, there was a “statistical dead heat in the race between” Kennedy and McClintock.

Both candidates have begun releasing ads for the November election. Key issues between the two include McClintock’s response to the COVID pandemic, which Kennedy has criticized; as well as healthcare and social security approaches. Kennedy’s campaign website, which includes a rundown of her priorities, is brynneforcongress.com.

McClintock’s campaign manager, Jon Huey, referred to a past social media post by Kennedy, stating she “misses authoritarian governments.” Other issues close to McClintock’s heart include economic growth, illegal immigration, and forest/water policies.

In his response to his Primary Election victory, McClintock pointed to the 4th District as “a beacon of hope against the socialist policies that are destroying California and threatening our nation.” McClintock’s own campaign efforts can be tracked at tommcclintock.com.

Truckee/North Lake Tahoe: There are a number of elections throughout the region that will shake up what representation there currently is.

Three spots are up for grabs within the Town of Truckee’s council of five. Not only will the majority of seats be competed for, but those victorious will play a role in the planning of the 2040 general plan and climate change action plan, as well as guidance of a new town manager and police chief.

Two other contested elections are also on the docket come press deadline: the Incline Village General Improvement District and the Truckee Tahoe Airport District.

Notable topics revolving around the airport district include increased air traffic, noise issues, and a considerable amount of discretionary funds as part of its healthy budget.

The IVGID, Incline Village’s quasi-town government, recently confirmed the appointment of Indra Winquest as its general manager on July 1. The new board members will help guide Winquest in his position.

A candidate forum for those competing in the region will be televised live from the Truckee town council chambers Sept. 9 and 10 at 6 p.m. In light of the pandemic, only candidates will be allowed to attend. More information will be provided as the forum draws closer.

Washoe County: Many Nevada offices up for vote will appear on Washoe County resident ballots, including United States Congress, 2nd District; Reno and Sparks city council spots; and district nonpartisan positions. For a full run-down of Washoe/Nevada offices up for election, visit washoecounty.us/voters/elections.

Ballot Measures

We teased a few state measures earlier and will focus on local actions below. To review statewide propositions for California, visit sos.ca.gov/elections/election-2020; for Nevada, see nvsos.gov/sos/elections/initiatives-referenda/2020-petitions.

Increasing Truckee’s TOT
On June 23, Truckee’s town council voted to place an option to increase the transient occupancy tax, aka hotel tax, by 2% on the November ballot. The proposed measure won’t raise taxes for residents, but for overnight hotel and short-term rental guests. Approximately $700,000 would come from this measure annually.

If approved by voters, the amassed funds will go toward workforce housing, wildfire preparation, and open space protection. More information on the potential funding is found at townoftruckee.com/government/town-manager/local-funding-measure.

This measure is the only Nevada County ballot measure affecting Truckee/North Tahoe residents.

Changing up the charter
Placer County’s charter, established in 1980, functions similarly to a constitution — it guides the organization and duties of elected and appointed officials. The current board of supervisors adopted and placed four changes on the November ballot. The updates, listed below, were suggested by a charter review committee.

1. All county elected officials must reside in Placer County, not just the supervisors, as is currently allowed. As of now, elected officers are required by law to be registered county voters at the time of appointment, but continued residency after that point is not mandatory.

2. The county’s civil service commission’s administrative and hearing duties would be split, with the admin duties moving to the human resources department. This change would pull technical and routine responsibilities and narrow the commission’s focus to resolving grievances and other personnel hearings.

3. Board supervisors need not approve appointments of nonelected department heads by the county executive officer.

4. Outdated procurement bid thresholds no longer consistent with state law will be stricken.

Each proposed measure simply requires a majority of the vote to pass. A full breakdown of these proposed changes, as reported by the charter review committee, can be found at placer.ca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/44540/06A.

There are nine additional measures for Placer County residents residing in Roseville and one for Auburn. A complete list of submitted measures can be found at placerelections.com/current-elections, under press releases and election notices, then notice of election.

El Dorado’s N, P, Q, R, S
El Dorado County has, to date, five measures on its November ballot, most of which revolve around upping special taxes. One, for example, in the city of South Lake Tahoe looks to establish a 1-cent sales tax to maintain a number of city services in the city. The others take place in El Dorado Hills, Cameron Park, and Placerville. The last measure is countywide and looks at the process of appointing a city treasurer.

Washoe County
The Reno, Sparks, and greater Truckee Meadows area will know which measures are to appear on the Washoe County ballot once the deadline date has passed, to happen the second week of August, after publication date.

District

Seats Available

Term

New Term Begins

LOCAL OFFICE

Donner Summit Public Utility District

Robert Sherwood*

3 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
El Dorado County Board of Education

Richard Fischer*

2 4-year Dec. 11, 2020
Incline Village General Improvement District (contested)

Matthew Dent*

Blane Johnson

Yolanda Knaak

Sara Schmitz*

Michaela Tonking

Frank Wright

3 4-year Jan. 1, 2021
Nevada County Board of Education (contested)

Louise B. Johnson (2-year)*

Susan Clarabut (2-year)*

Peggy Delgado Fava (2-year)

J. Timothy May (4-year)

4 (2) 2- or (2) 4-year Dec. 11 2020
North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District

James Costalupes*

Susan Herron*

Greg McKay*

3 4-year Jan. 4, 2021
North Tahoe Fire Protection District 3 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
North Tahoe Public Utility District

Phil Thompson*

Cathy Stewart

3 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Northstar Community Services District 3 2- or 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Placer County Board of Education (contested)

Rene Aguilera

Susan Goto*

Kelli Gnile*

David Patterson*

Lynn Oliver*

4 4-year Dec. 11, 2020
Squaw Valley Public Service District

Katy Hover-Smoot*

3 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Tahoe City Public Utility District

Judy Friedman*

3 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Tahoe Forest Hospital District

Alyce Wong*

Art King*

Michael C. McGarry*

3 (1) 2- or (2) 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Tahoe Truckee Unified School District 2 4-year Dec. 11, 2020
Town of Truckee Council

Jan Zabriskie (2-year)

Courtney Henderson (4-year)

Lindsay Romack (4-year)

3 (1) 2- or (2) 4-year Dec. 8, 2020
Truckee Donner Public Utility District

Jeff Bender*

Kimberly Harris

Cathy Stewart

3 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District (contested)

Jason Hansford*

Lori Marquette

Mark Tanner*

2 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Truckee Fire Protection District

Erin Prado*

Gerald Herrick*

2 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Truckee Sanitary District

Dennis Anderson*

Brian K. Smart*

2 4-year Dec. 4, 2020
Truckee Tahoe Airport District (contested)

Rick Stephens*

David Diamond

Leigh Golden

Ken Aronson

Teresa O’Dette*

3 4-year Dec. 4, 2020

STATE LEGISLATURE

State Senate, 1st District

Brian Dahle (R)*

Pamela Swartz (D)

1 4-year Dec. 7, 2020
State Assembly, 1st District

Megan Dahle (R)*

Elizabeth Betancourt (D)

1 2-year Dec. 7, 2020
State Assembly, 5th District

Frank Bigelow (R)* (unopposed)

1 2-year Dec. 7, 2020

FEDERAL OFFICE

United States Congress, 1st District

Doug LaMalfa (R)*

Audrey Denney (D)

1 2-year Jan. 3, 2021
United States Congress, 4th District

Tom McClintock (R)*

Brynne Kennedy (D)

1 2-year Jan. 3, 2021
President of the United States

Donald Trump (R)*

Joe Biden (D)

1 4-year Jan. 20, 2021

*Incumbent

A Tale of the River Streets

I like to think I have the best view in the Moonshine Ink office. Second best at the very least.

While some, from their desks, get to look at the Truckee River flowing through our backyard, others simply get a wall (sorry, guys). Beyond my computer monitor is a window to Riverside Drive in all its parking mayhem and one-way glory. It’s a window (literally and figuratively) to the goings on of Truckee.

Eugene Gini, owner of the house-cum-office, has known this tiny alleyway of a street for nearly nine decades. Gini is the self-proclaimed oldest-living native Italian in Truckee — born March 21, 1931 on the kitchen table of his aunt’s house on East River Street and living in town ever since (minus four years in the Navy).

When Gini looks at Riverside Drive and East River, he sees a town where those of Truckee lore were not only household names, but faces of people he knew: the McIvers, the Sassarinis.

“I can go up and down the road and relive times when I was growing up and thinking of the people that I knew, which was almost everybody in Truckee at that time,” Gini told me. “The population of Truckee was less than 400. It was a great place to grow up.”

As a young boy, he was a “cut-up,” running around his neighborhood with other children and spending “many, many hours” in the Truckee River. Once, he told me, he accidentally derailed a train.

“The story is, Truckee used to be the helper service for the freight trains, and they had a yard master who used to switch the engine around to send it down to hook it to the back of the freight train,” he explained, laughing a bit. “Well, the guy used to throw switches, and I thought I could throw a switch. Unfortunately, it was the wrong time and the wrong place.”

Gini’s brother-in-law worked as a railroad bull (a police officer for the tracks) and tried to scare little Gini into never doing it again. It worked. Gini admitted: “I didn’t derail any more trains.”

In addition to their current East River Street abode, Gini and his wife, Shirley, own houses on the river, in midtown, and in the Gateway neighborhood.

A boy whose parents hailed from the old country (Italy), Gini and his seven siblings lived in the Italian area of town, in a house across the street from where Jax at the Tracks now stands.

“See, at one time Truckee was pretty segregated,” he said. “Everything south of the river was Chinese and Chinese environment. Between the river and the railroad tracks was the Italian part of tracks. And everything north of the tracks was the Irish and other ethnic groups that helped build the railroad.”

Moonshine Goes Retro: Moonshine Ink’s world headquarters was built between 1920 and 1930, as approximated by an evaluator with Kautz Environmental Consultants Inc. in 1992 (when this picture was taken). According to a 1907 map, a different structure existed prior to this one, possibly destroyed by the many fires that swept through during the early part of the 20th century. Photo courtesy Town of Truckee

While Riverside Drive now requires cars to drive in one direction, from east to west, it wasn’t always that way. Rather than automobiles, grocery and milk delivery wagons rolled along the road. Up until the 1920s, Riverside Drive served as a back-entry alleyway for the parallel West River Street.

“In the wintertime they didn’t plow [Truckee] roads at all,” Gini explained. “The McIvers and — I can’t remember the name of the other people — but they had teams of horses that they would run up and down the street to pack the snow down so people could walk.”

Mostly residences were established on the northern bank of the Truckee River along Riverside Drive, as far as Gini recalls. The current location of Moonshine world headquarters was owned and lived in by his father — who purchased the residence for about $44,000 — before Gini inherited it. He had to actually buy out his brothers’ and sisters’ shares to call the house his own. Gini never lived in the home himself, but rented it out from 1978 to this day.

Immediately east of it sat the Wyethia Club house, a women’s club. Another house or two down from there was a footbridge that once carried a McGlashan water pipeline over the river. The footbridge, Gini says, was taken down shortly after World War II, when he was in his teens.

“Most of the people that live [on Riverside Drive] now haven’t lived there very long,” Gini said. “I say very long; maybe 30, 35, 40 years.”

Of course, you can’t share the history of Riverside Drive without its big brother, West River Street, whose businesses back up onto the much quieter water-side road. Officially separated name-wise from its eastern half in 1898, West River was mostly businesses in the 20th century too, known as a mirror community to the downtown Commercial Row.

“In where that sporting complex is, that used to be the laundry,” Gini said. “… The house directly west of it, I think it’s a bed and breakfast now, or a place for youngsters, was a hotel.”

The summer of ‘32: This shot of West River Street taken during the summer of 1932 shows Il Trovatore Club and a laundry business, as well as a number of other structures. Many of the West River buildings still stand today, providing shelter for Cornerstone Bakery, Morgan’s Lobster Shack, and Tahoe Sports Hub. Photo courtesy Rick Donaldson

The Sassarini family owned and operated numerous businesses along West River Street, including the pool hall known as Il Trovatore Club (where now lie Cornerstone Bakery and Morgan’s Lobster Shack), a wine store, and a boarding house.

The Star Hotel, second structure down on West River from Bridge Street, was also a boarding house for the railroad and lumber camps. The current building (for sale and most recently housing Tahoe University, an apparel and home goods store) was built in about 1867 after a fire destroyed it in May 1855. Many West River Street structures rose from the ashes of fires, including one in October of 1921, which started at the laundry building and destroyed 17 structures along the road.

Though Truckee’s segregation of different ethnic groups has faded, though automobiles now stack up along the streets that once served wagons, and though he no longer knows everyone in town, Gini says he still loves to live in Truckee.

“Do you really?” I asked him. “It’s quite a different place now.”

“Oh yes,” he laughed. “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.”