Tahoe Conservationists Take Legal Action to Overturn Martis Valley West Development
Environmental organizations Sierra Watch, Mountain Area Preservation, and the League to Save Lake Tahoe filed an opening brief in Placer County Superior Court on June 30. It was the first step in a legal action designed to overturn a recent approval of the 662-acre Martis Valley West Development. The hotly debated development was approved by the Placer County Board of Supervisors in October 2016 in front of a packed auditorium filled with opponents of the project. According to the brief, Placer County’s approval of the Martis Valley West proposal violated two state laws: the California Environmental Quality Act and the Timberland Productivity Act. The three organizations are seeking action by Placer County Superior Court to overturn the board’s approvals. Litigation may take years to resolve, according to a Sierra Watch press release.
Truckee Tahoe Airport District Agrees to Subsidize Workforce Housing
Truckee Tahoe Airport District’s board of directors voted June 28 to approve an agreement to subsidize 22 new workforce housing units to be constructed by RPL Properties on Sierra Drive in west Truckee. RPL Properties will limit the maximum rental cost to $750/month per unit for two-, three- and four-bedroom units, and will offer first right of refusal to airport district employees. In order to pencil out costs, RPL requested a $30,000 per unit subsidy from the district, for a maximum total of $660,000. Subsidy payments will be made incrementally as construction advances. The airport district committed $250,000 for regional housing initiatives for fiscal year 2017, with $50,000 dedicated to the Mountain Housing Council, a group comprised of North Tahoe’s community stakeholders.
Placer County Affordable Housing Fee Study Goes Public
Placer County held two public comment forums this month in Kings Beach and Auburn to discuss the recently released Affordable Housing Fee study compiled by Mintier-Harnish and Hansford Economic Consulting. The study, released in two parts to accomodate the demographic and economic differences between east and west Placer County, is intended to establish the nexus between new residential and non-residential development, and to determine the maximum justifiable workforce housing fees. Comments and suggestions drawn from the public forums will be presented to the Placer County Board of Supervisors at the regular monthly board meeting in Auburn on Aug. 8.
Setback in Funding for Truckee Railyard Artist Lofts
The Truckee Railyard Artist Lofts project did not win key funding from California’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit fund during the first application cycle of 2017. This is the second time Railyard developers have applied for this tax credit in a competitive, statewide process that awards credits to about one-third of the total pool of applicants. The Town of Truckee approved an extension on the $1.4 million loan it offered the project to bolster its credit rating for the second application cycle, and project developers CFY Developments submitted a request for the next round of awards on June 28.
“We are determined to get these units funded and built as soon as possible, especially given the housing crisis that is forcing so much of Truckee’s workforce to have to commute to work,” said CFY Vice President Ali Youssefi in an email.
The “Other Flume Trail” Gets a $130,000 Makeover
On June 20, the Tahoe Fund secured a $130,000 grant to restore the Incline Flume Trail, known affectionately as the “Other Flume Trail,” which extends from Mt. Rose Highway through Diamond Peak Ski Resort to Tunnel Creek. This funding will help build a retaining wall in a particularly erosive area and install interpretive signage. It will also aid in the transfer of the historic bull wheel, part of a historic tram that hauled thousands of pounds of lumber during Tahoe’s mining era, from the Nevada Land Trust to US Forest Service land. In May 2017, the US Forest Service adopted the trail with help from Friends of Incline Trails, paving the way for this grant.
Restoration is already underway, and will continue July 21 to 23, August 12, and Sept. 26, 28, and 30.
A Milestone for Waste
The Carnelian Bay sewer pump station received an upgrade on June 18. It was the first milestone in a $2.7 million project set to rehabilitate infrastructure in the North Tahoe Public Utility District. Completing this task required turning off the main force that carries all sewer waste east of Carnelian Bay, an overnight process that required 10 tanker trucks to carry 3,400 to 5,000 gallons of waste.
The sewer system for Kings Beach and Tahoe Vista was originally designed in 1969 and built for an expected population of 42,000 people. As of the 2010 census, the population of the two towns is just more than 5,000. NTPUD will downsize three of North Tahoe’s four main sewer pump stations. The rehabilitation will allow the District to adjust pumps and motors to make them more efficient, and is expected to be completed by November 2017.
Nevada’s Best Attraction? It’s Not Lake Tahoe
The Nevada Museum of Art takes home the gold in 2017, winning the vote for Best Nevada Attraction by USA Today’s 10Best, a site that provides travel content for top destinations around the world. The museum won out over other iconic state attractions like Lake Tahoe, the Hoover Dam, and Virginia City.
The Nevada Museum of Art is the state’s only art museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. A private, nonprofit organization founded in 1931, the Reno-based institution is supported by its membership as well as sponsorships, gifts, and grants. The museum is currently featuring the exhibits City of Dust: The Evolution of Burning Man and Unsettled, among others.
Creating Equilibrium for the Environment Starts in Tahoe
The Squaw Valley Institute will host a first-of-its-kind event dubbed Creating Equilibrium, a radical solutions forum focused on generating environmentally impactful innovations. From Aug. 25 to 27, a host of culture-shaping thought leaders, including Pulitzer Prize nominee author Steven Kotler, conservation biologist Patricia Wright, and pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones, will gather for three days of innovation, immersive art experiences, and music. Proceeds go to EQ Ventures, an incubator designed to fund and promote new approaches to environmental issues. Info: creatingequilibrium.com
Cat Adoptions in Placer County Rise by 90 Percent
Placer County Animal Services teamed up with Kitten Central, a neonatal kitten foster program, and FieldHaven, a barn cat solution for feral cats, in an effort that resulted in a significant 90 percent increase in cat adoptions since this time in 2016. Neonatal kittens and feral cats are two of the most vulnerable feline populations — the former because they require intensive 24-hour care, and the latter because they are considered unadoptable. In the past, euthanization was often the only option for either group. Placer County stopped euthanization practices after moving to a new facility in October 2016. The Placer County Animal Services Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Western Sierra Medical to Replace Placer County Clinic
As Placer County continues to halt direct operation of health clinics, nonprofit healthcare provider Western Sierra Medical Clinic will take over the Kings Beach location beginning on July 5. Western Sierra, which will treat patients from Nevada and Placer counties, will initially offer primary care and dental services for newborns to seniors. Additional services, including pediatrics and women’s health, could be added at a later date. The Western Sierra Medical Clinic will open at 8665 Salmon Ave. in Kings Beach, and provide care from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday.
Proposed Martis Valley Trail Secures More TOT Support
This month, the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved the use of $250,000 in transient occupancy tax funds generated in North Lake Tahoe for construction of the proposed Martis Valley Trail— a 9-mile long paved trail that will connect Northstar Village and the Town of Truckee. Funds will support completion of an environmental review of a trail section that crosses federal land, and help with the design and construction of an initial segment connecting the Northstar Drive roundabout and Northstar Village. Construction of these first parts could begin in 2018, pending approval.
Museum of Sierra Ski History Closed Indefinitely
The Museum of Sierra Ski History and the 1960 Winter Olympics has announced it will close indefinitely due to the severe damage to its home, the Boatworks Mall, from extreme winter weather in January 2017. Co-founders David Antonucci and Stan Batiste are seeking a new space for the museum.