South Lake Tahoe resident Josh Lease is fed up with the trash and the constant stream of tourists flowing into Lake Tahoe during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Tahoe is being thrashed,” said Lease, a 20-year resident.
Lease said he was triggered and wanted to raise awareness after seeing local beaches being littered with garbage. He wrote an initial Facebook post on Aug. 9 detailing his frustration with the trash problem and the amount of people coming into Tahoe.
“I wanted to see if anyone was feeling the same way that I was,” Lease told the Tribune. “Why is everyday a holiday in Tahoe right now? Something has to be done.”
Since Lease has been in the community for nearly two decades, he said he apparently has a big reach in Tahoe. While Lease said his initial social media post was almost a joke, he realized many people were feeling the same way. Other locals started making signs and planning a protest near the roundabout on U.S Highway 50 in Meyers where a majority of tourists file into town.
Now, protests are planned for 4 p.m., on Friday and 9 a.m., on Sunday at four locations around Lake Tahoe — Truckee, Meyers, Incline Village and Kings Beach.
Lease believes the city is not properly handling tourism and the traffic issues that coincide.
“Money is more important than locals and we are seeing it first hand,” he said. “They are not fixing the problem, they are raising more.”
Lease says that people are flocking up here because most parts of the other states are closed and Tahoe is accommodating these people. He believes this is making it difficult for locals.
“We can’t lock everyone out,” said Chris Fiore communications manager for South Lake Tahoe. “We recognize people from out of town view Tahoe is a safe haven.”
He said the city also hears concerns of people seeing tourists coming in droves into the basin.
Fiore said that they realize that trash is an issue in Tahoe and they are collaborating with other agencies to work on the issue. During a city council meeting on Aug. 11, there was discussion about the trash problem and partnering with South Tahoe Refuse and the Public Works Department. Fiore said that if people are going to come to Tahoe, they need to give it the respect it deserves.
“People are going to show up and it is important to get them to realize that this is the place we call home,” he said. “People should leave no trace. It is dangerous for wildlife and dangerous to the environment when trash is left behind. It is unacceptable.”
The city has implemented the ambassador program to hand out masks around town and partnered with local agencies for marketing campaigns.
“During this crisis the city has gone above and beyond to keep people safe, keep Tahoe safe and keep Tahoe open,” he said.
Fiore said that the governor’s travel ban is still in place and that if people see egregious violations that they should call the police’s non-emergency line.
Lease said for protestors should bring their own signs but urges people to make sure they are tasteful and respectful to tourists.
Some of the signs will include “NO SCHOOL = NO TOURISM” “DON’T TRASH OUR HOME” and “TAKE YOUR TRASH WITH YOU.”
“I want this [protest] to reach Newsom,” Lease said. “Either open us all up or shut us all down completely.”