Truckee is protected by the current county coronavirus monitoring. The California COVID Data Map shows 69 cases in Nevada County over the past 14 days with a case per 100K of 69.9, well under the 100 threshold that puts counties on the watch list and can lead to further restrictions.
However, this is very misleading.
On Nevada County’s coronavirus dashboard, in the breakdown of those 69 cases, 39 were in Eastern County (Truckee) and 30 in Western County. The problem is that Truckee represents 16.5% of the county population but 56.5% of the new cases!
So what would Truckee’s cases per 100K be? Based on the 2019 population of 16,735, Truckee is at 221.1. That’s above the 100 threshold and higher than 14 of the counties on California’s monitoring lists with restrictions like no indoor food or bar service.
After discussing my concerns with our town council it has been noted that our population has increased due to people turning their second homes into a primary residence. Even if we saw a 50% increase in population, our new case per 100K would still be 147.4 — higher than eight counties on the list.
Add to this that it was reported that 77,000 visitors were expected in advance of 4th of July in Tahoe, packing the beaches and town, which will surely cause case counts to grow.
Then consider that most of the California population lives where restrictions have been put back in place and are looking for a summer vacation. With El Dorado and Placer counties expected to be added to the restrictions list in the next week, that leaves Truckee as one of the few vacation spots in the state still open. Nevada County looks like a safe place to visit, so more people come to Truckee restaurants, beaches, and bars.
El Dorado County, which includes South Lake Tahoe, is addressing the issue that their eastern county areas are being disproportionately affected. The Sacramento Bee in the July 7 article, Alarming COVID-19 Surge in Tahoe Linked to Tourists; El Dorado County Calls Emergency Meeting, reported that the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors is holding an emergency meeting to discuss the virus surge in the Tahoe region. Why isn’t Nevada County or the Truckee Town Council addressing this issue in Truckee?
I love this town and want to see it thrive. I want to see our children back in school, our businesses open and flourishing, and our mountains full of hikers, bikers, and skiers. For this to happen we must get this surge under control and engage the entire community around wearing masks. Until the town is informed of the extent of our problem, the urgency to take action will not emerge.
~ Melissa Hodous is not a public health professional, but a concerned resident and lover of all things Truckee. She enjoys exploring lakes in the Sierras along with her husband, daughters who attend Truckee High School and Forest Charter School, and her two dogs.
In his June 12 My Shot article, Samir Tuma, president of the NLTRA and chamber boards, encouraged people to come to North Lake Tahoe and support activity providers. Mr. Tuma has been in litigation with the Rudnick family over a property dispute unrelated to their Truckee River Raft Company.
Twenty-four hours prior to his article, Greg Gatto, Mr. Tuma’s lawyer, provided comments to the Placer County planning commission on Mr. Tuma’s behalf that rafting should not be permitted. The Placer County planning commission extended the permits of both raft companies over his objections. Mr. Tuma, through Gatto, applied for appeal that afternoon.
Any real local to Tahoe City knows what a tremendous asset to the local economy rafting is. The two raft companies have been a part of the fabric of Tahoe City since the early 1970s and bring untold numbers of people to town to recreate and employ nearly 100 people per year.
For Samir Tuma, the head of the very organizations vested with promoting commerce and tourism, supported by tax dollars, to put his personal agenda before his duty to this community is unconscionable! He should step down from these duties if he cannot perform them without rancor.
I greatly enjoy your publication, but I was a little surprised that in the latest edition there is no mention at all, as far as I could find, that local housing isn’t just about socioeconomic justice (my words) but also environmental justice in that the survival of Lake Tahoe is at stake. As you know, thousands of people commute into the Basin to work every day, and this is thousands of pounds of carbon, pollution (noise to nitrous oxides), so “affordable” housing is critical to the survival of Lake Tahoe. Critical. You didn’t make this very essential link. “Hey Richies! Enjoy Your $150 meal? Your waitress lives in her car! Give her an affordable place to live (say, your empty house?) AND save the lake!”
Leaders of KidZone Museum learned this month about the El Paso Community Foundation, which is leading the development of its new innovative children’s museum and science center. The El Paso Quality of Life bond is bringing in millions of dollars to support libraries, museums, senior programs, trails, and a whole lot more. It is inspiring that a city of that size passed a bond that recognizes the quality of life for its citizens as the most important area of their public work. El Paso sees that housing, mental health, community enrichment, trails, recreation, and economics all play into our quality of life.We said to ourselves: “We can’t wait to tell Jeff Loux about this great idea. He is all about the quality of life for the residents of Truckee.” Then we were deflated when we read the article in Moonshine Ink regarding his very sudden departure as town manager.
In the past 15-plus years, I have witnessed visionary transformations in my children’s schools, at the Truckee Tahoe Airport, and with the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District. These public entities have visionary leaders (and visionary boards) that dare to change the status quo. Dr. Robert Leri, superintendent chief learning officer, has positively transformed our school district. Steve Randall keeps providing more and more recreation opportunities for us to enjoy through Truckee Donner parks and recreation. Kevin Smith, general manager at the Truckee Tahoe Airport, uses his influence to bring public agencies together to support the airport, pilots, and community projects.
Jeff Loux is one of those visionary leaders. Under his short three-year term, he created a new department to work on affordable housing; he has created strong advocacy with Nevada County and the town to support our library; and he has participated in joint projects with other municipalities to share resources. The list goes on. Our leadership team at the museum is devastated to learn of his sudden departure. We can’t lose our visionary leaders who aim to make the quality of life for “we the people” a priority. What can we do to keep him working for us and including more visionary thinking within the ranks of our town planners? Please, town council, don’t let this opportunity pass. Bring back Jeff Loux.
The clarity of Lake Tahoe has long been one of the most important indicators of the lake’s changing condition. In 2019, Lake Tahoe’s clarity decreased nearly 8 feet from the previous year’s dramatic 10-foot improvement. The average annual value in 2019 was 62.7 feet. The lowest value was recorded in 2017, when clarity was 60 feet.
Such year-to-year and even day-to-day fluctuations are common. A truer picture of the clarity is often indicated by a five-year running mean, which shows a mean clarity of 67.3 feet, according to the data released by the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center.
~ UC Davis news release
Wildfire Evacuation Tag Initiative
The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office is providing free “evacuated” tags for residents to place in a highly visible place such as a door, reflective address sign, mailbox, fence, or gate as they evacuate their residence during an emergency.
Evacuation tags are available to pick up at fire stations and county sheriff’s offices.
These tags will help first responders swiftly identify which homes have been evacuated so they can focus their attention on those who still need help and decrease overall evacuation times.
~ Nevada County Sheriff’s Office press release
Project Denied By Planning Commission Heads to Supervisors
On May 28, the Placer County planning commission voted 6-0-1 to deny the Kings Beach Lakeside Residential Project, a residential-commercial development, formally known as Laulima. The denial came about in light of community concern that the project isn’t a true mixed-use project.
Despite the decision, Laulima Partners LLC appealed and is seeking input from the board of supervisors. Heather Beckman, senior planner with the county, said she is waiting to hear back on the applicant’s timing for a hearing. Read Moonshine’s online exclusive, County Planning Commission Denies Laulima Project, online at moonshineink.com.
Funding Nearly Doubled for Nevada Parks, Open Space
The Land and Water Conservation Fund realized its full potential on June 17 with Congressional approval of a historic public lands package, the Great American Outdoors Act. This landmark legislation will permanently and fully fund the popular LWCF for the first time since its creation in 1964. LWCF invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leases to help strengthen communities, preserve history, and assure the physical, cultural, and spiritual benefits of outdoor recreation. Through the Great American Outdoors Act, Nevada will receive more than $4 million in annual LWCF funding — nearly doubling the prior annual allocation — to help fund Nevada-wide outdoor recreation and natural resource conservation programs.
~ Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources press release
County Makes it Easier to Build ADUs
The Placer County board of supervisors voted unanimously in early June to ease housing code restrictions in line with recent state law changes, making it easier to build accessory dwelling units in unincorporated parts of the county.
The update to the county’s zoning ordinance is intended to help increase the variety and supply of local affordable housing units. The approved zoning text amendment provides property owners with more flexible options to develop accessory dwelling units or junior accessory dwelling units to accommodate a family member or a potential renter.
Among the more significant changes, ADUs will now be allowed in neighborhoods zoned for multifamily dwellings including commercial planned development, general commercial, highway service, and neighborhood commercial zones. More information about building an ADU in unincorporated Placer County is available at placer.ca.gov/6495/accessory-dwelling-units.
~ Placer County press release
2020 Fires to Date In and Around the Region
Truckee: Efforts to extinguish a structure fire in the Lahontan community was hampered by high winds on June 28. However, no additional structures were damaged.
Reno: The Poeville Fire burned an estimated 3,500 acres in Northwest Reno, on the slopes of Peavine Mountain. Eight structures were burned. Cause of the fire was under investigation at press time, though it’s known to have started the evening of June 26. The Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District is seeking the public’s assistance regarding the fire. Contact Deputy Chief Dale Way at (775) 326-6005.
South Lake Tahoe: Due to multiple thunderstorms in the area on June 23, three fires were ignited by lightning in the South Lake area, and have since been extinguished. The Twin Peaks, Trail, and Sweetwater fires were all quickly doused thanks to action by local, state, and federal resources. The Tallac Fire was contained at 2.2 acres near the Mt. Tallac trailhead along Highway 89 between Emerald Bay and Camp Richardson on July 1. No structures were affected. As of press time the cause was under investigation.
Incline Village: On June 17, the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District extinguished a commercial structure fire at Alpine Boat Storage.
Sierra County: A vegetation fire burned 102 acres in the Tahoe National Forest on Feb. 17. By the next day, the fire was 100% contained.
Note: This is an overview compiled at press time and is not an exhaustive list.
~ AH, JD
County 2020 Election Turnout Results
A recap of the primary election in Washoe County was presented to commissioners at a mid-June meeting, the numbers of which are listed below:
2020 primary election final turnout by the numbers:
Total turnout: 95,824 (32.8%)
Democrat: 40,676 (38.82%)
Republican: 40,036 (38.50%)
Early voting: 1,625
Election day in-person: 1,479
~ Washoe County press release
Construction Atop the Summit
The Truckee Donner Historical Society is overseeing the upgrade to amenities at the summit pull-off where Sugar Bowl’s Donner Summit Lodge and the Pacific Crest Trail crosses Donner Pass Road.
This year, plans are in place to construct paths; renovate a large shed structure; restripe the asphalt and allow for ADA parking; install signage, benches and a shade structure; construct and place kiosks; construct a small amphitheater out of a grouping of rocks; and provide portable toilets for visitors. Money for this construction is provided through Placer County’s Transient Occupancy Tax funds for a “trailhead of trailheads.”
Buoy Ordinance Prohibits Motorized Watercraft
At the June 9 council meeting, the Town of Truckee council passed an urgent ordinance for boating on Donner Lake that prohibits motorized watercraft from passing the buoy line in the southeastern part of the lake, near its outlet and surrounded by Donner Memorial State Park. The area past the buoy line is very popular with swimmers and users of nonmotorized watercraft such as kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, and the presence of motorized watercraft in that area creates a potential for conflicts and injuries to swimmers and nonmotorized watercraft users.
~ Town of Truckee press release
Joint Litter Cleanup and Enforcement Effort
The California Department of Transportation and California Highway Patrol have announced a statewide effort to resume litter removal on the state highways, which has been limited since March due to the COVID-19 health crisis.
Caltrans maintenance workers and partnering programs are adhering to recommendations developed in consultation with licensed industrial hygienists to ensure safe working environments while conducting litter removal efforts during the current health crisis.
~ Caltrans, CHP press release
Committee to Improve Regional Social Justice Formed
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE
On June 12, the Sierra Nevada Alliance board formed a diversity, equity, and inclusion committee to help advance our work in this area. Moving forward, issues of the Sierra Resource, a regional newsletter, will contain articles on social environmental justice and anti-racism resources for nonprofits. Those with ideas regarding how to best move forward in this work or would like to be part of the conversation are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Sierra Resource newsletter
Over $200,000 in Scholarships Given to Local Students
Eight graduating seniors from Truckee High School and North Tahoe High School will be headed to college this fall, thanks to more than $200,000 in funds granted from the Martis Camp Community Foundation. The final scholarship choices for 2020 from more than 120 applicants were made after deliberation on financial need, academics, extracurricular activities, and the submission essay quality. The recipients are:
A residency requirement for all Placer County elected officials will be decided by the voters in November — one of four recommended changes to the county charter. Each measure would require a simple majority to pass.
One recommended charter addition would require all county elected officials, not just the board of supervisors, to reside in Placer County. Existing law requires elected officers to be registered Placer County voters at the time of their appointment but does not require continued residency after that appointment.
The committee also recommended splitting the county civil service commission’s administrative and hearing duties, and assigning administrative duties to the human resources department. Two other measures would align the charter with the current county practices by removing a requirement for the board of supervisors to approve the appointment of non-elected department heads by the county executive officer and striking outdated procurement bid thresholds that are no longer consistent with state law.
~ Placer County press release
PUD Awards Energy Rebate to School District
The Truckee Donner Public Utility District recently awarded the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District $98,631 in energy efficiency rebates to support school projects. The rebate allowed the TTUSD to complete energy efficiency and lighting retrofit projects at Truckee Elementary and Truckee High schools. The cost-effective project is expected to save the school $7,500 to $9,000 annually for a period of 15 to 20 years.
~ TDPUD press release
Business Council to Lead Economic Development Initiatives
The Nevada County board of supervisors unanimously selected the Sierra Business Council to manage the county’s economic development initiatives, with a focus on business technical assistance, public-private sector coordination, and expanding internet access countywide.
Two of the contract’s key deliverables are providing technical assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs through the council’s Small Business Development Center and facilitating “warm handoffs” between new businesses looking to set up shop in Nevada County with the appropriate county staff. SBC intends to set up a satellite office in the Rood Center to maximize coordination, assist in permitting, and advise on multi-jurisdictional infrastructure and development projects.
The county’s $165,000 contract may be renewed for a one- or two-year extension in subsequent years.
~ Nevada County press release
Call for Artists
Applications are open through July 27 for the Ali Youssefi Project Artist in Residence program. Four artists will be accepted — two artists from outside of Sacramento and two artists from Sacramento. One of each residencies will be chosen for terms between October and December 2020 and January and March 2021. Both residents receive a $500-per-month stipend, a studio at Verge Center of the Arts, and participation in the AYP group show at Verge Gallery.
This project aims to nurture artists from a diverse range of backgrounds and uplift the work of artists, with a particular focus on underrepresented perspectives and voices. All visual artists are welcome. More information and applications can be found at aliyoussefiproject.com/artist-in-residency-program.
In an effort to spread the word rather than the virus, we offer the Community Corkboard, a classifieds-style and inexpensive ad for businesses to share the services they currently offer (take-out, hours, specials), and for anyone to send a message of gratitude or hope to your community. The corkboard also helps to sustain your local independent paper and critical journalism! These ads appear in print and here on our website. Click on any of the ads for a slideshow. For info on how to advertise, click here.
Editor’s note: Megan and Ambrose’s story is also featured in direct interview format in an episode of Moonshine Minutes, our radio show in partnership with Tahoe Truckee Radio on 101.5. Find all episodes at the ‘multimedia’ tab on our site.
Given our history, it’s no surprise that issues surrounding race continue to negatively affect America, especially non-white Americans. Recent protests about glaring inequalities in our nation’s society and a pandemic disproportionately affecting those with black and brown skin, not to mention an unearned prominence of white supremacist groups and ideas in recent years, make it clear that racism is still far too common. While a nationwide dialogue might help open more white Americans’ eyes to the evils of racism, the most effective way to reduce and eventually end racism in the country is by properly educating school-aged children on the history of slavery, segregation, and oppression in our country.
However, currently (and this feels strange to write in the 21st century) American schools do not have a mandate to educate their students about racism. That’s not to say that some teachers don’t do an excellent job incorporating positive messages about racial equality into their classroom and that some courses don’t touch on inequities of the past, but it’s not nearly enough. At a statewide level, our schools are not expected to address racism specifically. They are, in effect, silent about race. And into that vacuum — a vacuum in which our children spend a significant number of their waking hours — so many uneducated ideas about racial stereotypes and racial superiority appear and are passed around as fact. How are young children who have not even started to study history (or those who have) supposed to understand the toxic, violent baggage that racist ideas carry? And most importantly, if we want to live in a country without racism, do we dare continue, as we’ve done since the beginning of public education, to assume that educating children about race is solely the job of parents and guardians? Only if we want to continue to fail on racial equality as a country.
Why do we believe we’re failing on race in this country? Well, there are the obvious signs that have led to protests and riots in recent weeks, there are the statistics about pay, incarceration, career advancement, etc., there are anecdotes that most people of color could tell about being targeted by racist behavior. But for us, what really made the failure crystal clear was when, seemingly out of the blue, our 6-year-old son used race to demean another student in his class.
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We all saw the news during, and in the months following, the 2016 presidential election; racism was more openly expressed and more tolerated by those in power. As troubling as it was, we really thought that it didn’t apply to our liberal little California mountain town bubble; we certainly didn’t think it would touch our family.
Then it did.
In first grade, our son Griffin had a good friend Chloe Jaborski in his class. Chloe is biracial; her mother Avril is black and her father Matt is white. She was the only black student in the school at that time.
One day, Griffin and another boy were working at a table with Chloe. As we later learned, the other boy said to her that she should go back to Mexico where she belonged. He then encouraged Griffin to tease her also. Griffin thought that the boy was cool and that Chloe would never tell on him because they were friends and she was so nice. Griffin ended up telling her that he didn’t like the color of her skin.
Thankfully, Chloe’s family had taught her to stand up for herself. She was afraid of the other boy, but was not afraid of Griffin. She went to the teacher and told her what Griffin had said to her. When prompted, Griffin reluctantly told the teacher everything that happened. Another teacher brought the three kids into the office and told them that no one had the exact same skin and that skin color doesn’t matter.
And that was it. From the school’s perspective, the issue was essentially a closed case. Unfortunately for us, but especially for Chloe and her family, it was anything but, and we found ourselves asking for a more thorough response to the incident, not to mention some new ideas about prevention. Wouldn’t the best possible outcome be turning the sad episode into a learning opportunity for the kids involved, certainly, but also for the whole school or community?
After Griffin’s teacher told us (and Avril) a general version of what had happened, including the phrase, “kids being kids” to assure us that it wasn’t a big deal, we were appalled and devastated. First, we turned to our son with some very hard questions. After an hour-long conversation, with Griffin crying the entire time for himself and eventually, for Chloe too, we had heard all the details. It was clear and plausible that Griffin had no idea of the weight of what he had said. He had zero notion of the baggage of racist language, but he learned at least some of it that night. What we realized with crystal clarity then was that any kid can use racist language, especially if they haven’t been properly educated about the awful history (and present) of systemic racism in this country. Clear too was the fact that we had failed to provide our child with such an education. Had you asked us the day before, we both would have said that we were raising our kids to be good, tolerant people. If you’d asked whether our child would ever say what he said, we would have said it was impossible.
And yet, there we were.
The only thing to do in that awful moment was to connect with the ones we had hurt. Fortunately, Avril responded to a text and said we could come over to their house. We drove there immediately, worked through the story of what had happened (which Avril had not gotten fully from the school), and apologized profusely. Avril, Matt, and Chloe told us they knew this day would come, but they didn’t think it would happen so soon. We told them we never thought this day would come, at least not as a result of something our child would say, and that we were so sorry it had happened. It wasn’t enough, but it was all we could do, and Avril thankfully gave us a few ideas on how to talk about racism with kids, ideas of how to educate ourselves, and ideas for diversifying the books we had in our house.
The next few months were terrible for Avril, Matt, and their family. There was no follow-up from the school, the Jaborskis were ignored, and no one from the school even got in touch to see if they were okay. There was no follow-up with the kids at school either nor any lessons about racism. We and the Jaborskis all assumed that the school had an obligation to do something, but the issue was pretty much brushed off.
At some point that spring Avril told us they were leaving, moving to a bigger city with more diversity. She said that they couldn’t stay at a school where no one addressed racism with the students and no one did anything to address it when it happened. Their reasoning made perfect sense, but it didn’t make their situation any easier to accept. They had done nothing wrong, yet somehow were the ones whose lives were upended by the incident our son had helped create.
The official silence and the unfairness of the situation helped open our eyes to how systemic racism works and how it flies below the radar of so many white people. If you never hear about racism (because it’s ignored, suppressed, denied), and it’s never negatively affecting you, it’s a pretty easy thing to overlook or downplay. And that’s perhaps the most insidious thing about it.
Our kids are still at the school and we are still hoping for and working for change. The problem of racism did not stop when the Jaborskis left. Our son brought forward an incident the following year in which two boys in his class were using the N-word on the playground. We immediately brought this incident to the school’s attention but were told that it was a trigger issue because of our friendship with the family that had left. And again we were told that the kids were just kids.
The problem is, eventually kids grow up. And if responsible adults don’t intervene, they can too easily grow up to be racists with the potential to do untold harm in their lifetimes.
In the end, the school did talk to just the one class about the N-word and how it is not appropriate for school. Clearly, they could and should have done more. Ignoring the issue and not talking about race at school sends a message to kids that it is okay to be intolerant of others.
Meeting racist language with the same kind of consequence as the use of potty talk at school is a false equivalency that may have been made unintentionally, but was absorbed by the kids involved nonetheless.
So, what have we learned from these experiences?
First, parents raising young kids to be color blind, rather than anti-racist, is a dangerous strategy. This isn’t meant to be a criticism, because that’s exactly what we thought we were doing, and it worked great … until it didn’t. In our minds, there would be a day, sometime in the future, always, in which it would be easier to talk to our kids about race and racism, a time when they could understand and not be too shocked by all of the awful history our country has accumulated. Instead, this happened, and our son caused a tremendous amount of harm to one child and one family, and it’s our fault as parents for not educating him sooner. If you’re waiting for the right time to have an open discussion with your kids about race, there is no better time than now. There are others better equipped than us to say what the contents of that discussion should be, but one clear message should be that “teasing” about race is different than other kinds of typical kid behavior, and needs to be treated as such.
Second, schools have an obligation to provide racism education. While we were disappointed with how this situation was handled by our school, in retrospect it’s hard to say that the school was well prepared by the district, the state, or the federal government. But why? With the exception of a very few open, proud racists who are so on the margins of society that their voices do not matter, white America is united in denouncing racism. Problem is, we seem to be really bad at not behaving and speaking in racist ways. Until we, as a state or country, get serious about giving kids a foundation in understanding the current toll of racial inequity, the thousands of ways racism harms individuals, we’re going to be stuck in this moment, this cycle. So let’s use schools, the centers of education in every community, to do something really hard, but really essential.
Shouldn’t educating Americans about race be as important as any subject currently taught in school? Would anyone really disagree with the message “All [people] are created equal” being instilled in American children in whatever way experts agree will reduce and eventually end racism as we know it?
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~ Meg and Ambrose are both graduates of Davidson College in NC, where they first met. Meg has a Ph.D. in zoology from Washington State University and is the Executive Director of Headwaters Science Institute. Ambrose is an English teacher at Sugar Bowl Academy and the editor of the American Whitewater Journal. They have two kids, Griffin (9) and Mari (6) and the family loves to adventure together in the Tahoe region and beyond.
Here are a few resources for parents, schools, teachers… anyone that is ready to make a change in their own lives and the lives of their kids.