Monday, October 29, 2007

Nov. 13 fire behavior meeting

Wildland fi res typically have very complex behaviors. They are
affected by changes in fuels, topography, weather, and ignition
patterns. This diverse behavior produces equally diverse effects.
To predict fi re effects you must fi rst quantify fi re behavior and fuel
consumption, fi re size, fi re season, and past fi re occurrence. In many
cases the use of replicated experimental prescribed fi res are necessary
to make inferences. Information from these studies can then be used
to develop quantitative models.
Currently there is substantial debate on how or if land managers
should reduce fuel hazards or engage in salvage logging. Dr. Stephens
has given testimony on this topic on three occasions at the US House
of Representatives Subcommittee on Forest and Forest Health and
Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands. He believes the
central question in this debate is the defi nition of desired future
conditions for our diverse ecosystems. Once we have this then we
must decide what management tools are appropriate to achieve and
maintain the desired conditions.
Dr. Scott Stephens, UC Berkeley, is interested in the
interactions of wildland fi re and ecosystems. This
includes how prehistoric fi res once interacted with
ecosystems, how current wildland fi res are affecting
ecosystems, and how future fi res and management
may change this interaction. How can wildland fi re
policy be improved to meet the challenges of the next
decades? How will fi re be affected by climate change?
Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Time: 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Lecture begins promptly at 6:00 p.m.
Cost: $5 donation requested. Includes a No-Host Bar.
Location: Assembly Rooms A & B, Tahoe Center for
Environmental Sciences
291 Country Club Drive, Incline Village, Nevada
(on the campus of Sierra Nevada College)

Scientists talk fire, Oct. 29

Gain scientifi c perspectives on fi re, fuels and their impacts in the Tahoe Basin. Join local experts for three short presentations and a discussion on fi re science. Following the presentations, you will have an opportunity to discuss the inter-related issues concerning wildfi res and their impact and ask questions of our panel of experts.

Wildfi re and Prescribed Fire Effects on Watersheds: Professor
Wally Miller, University of Nevada Reno presents the effects of
wildfi re and prescribed fi re on soils, forest carbon and nutrient
budgets and the resulting impacts on water quality and food webs.
How do thinning and prescribed fi re affect the forest fl oor fuels?
What is a “Strategically Placed Land Area Treatments (SPLATs)”?
Jeff Brown, Station Manager at the UC Berkeley, Sagehen Creek Field
Station presents recent research on SPLATs and their use as a tool
designed to modify forest fi re behavior.

Protecting Communities & Defensible Space: Norb Szczurek,
NLTFPD Division Chief, presents practical information about how
to protect your property from wildfi re. Learn what is being done in
your community.

Panel includes presenters, Fire Safe Council and TRPA representatives.

Presented by Wally Miller (University of Nevada, Reno), Jeff Brown (UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field Station) and Norb Szczurek (Division Chief, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District)

Date: Monday, October 29, 2007
Time: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Lecture begins promptly at 6:00 p.m.
Cost: $5 donation requested. Includes a No-Host Bar.
Location: Assembly Rooms A & B, Tahoe Center for
Environmental Sciences
291 Country Club Drive, Incline Village, Nevada
(on the campus of Sierra Nevada College)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tahoe City votes for fire tax

Associated Press - October 28, 2007 4:05 PM ET

TAHOE CITY, California (AP) - Four months after Lake Tahoe's largest recorded wildland fire, Tahoe City-area property owners have overwhelmingly voted to pay an annual assessment to improve fire safety on the lake's north shore.

A total of 3,873 voters approved the assessment while 1,589 voters rejected it. The 45-day mail-in election ended Wednesday, when ballots were counted.

The tax is expected to generate $625,000 a year for expansion of the North Tahoe Fire Protection District's chipping and fuels reduction programs, and defensible space inspections.

The revenue also will be used to modernize communications systems, contract water-dropping helicopters, plan neighborhood evacuation routes and increase engine staffing during periods of high fire danger.

Single-family homeowners will be assessed an annual fee starting at $48, while commercial property owners will pay a higher rate.

Approval of the tax follows the 3,000-acre Angora wildfire in June that destroyed 254 homes on Lake Tahoe's south shore.

Friday, October 26, 2007

LTUSD candidate controversy

Two incumbents and four challengers are vying for three seats on the Lake Tahoe Unified School District's board of education. The email below was sent to me and others this week. The daily paper in town ran a story today that didn't mention this controversy. It merely wrote about what former union prez Mike Patterson fed them. No need for me to vent about what's going on with the deliveryof news from Harrison Ave. And by mentioning all of this, I'm not taking a stand one way or the other or for particular candidates. I've already voted. But for those who haven't, I think they should have access to as much information as possible.

Here's the email:

You should know that 2 candidates for LTUSD school board (Kemper and Green) plagiarized large parts of their Personal Statements on the ballot.

The ballot is attached. Here's what Kemper said:

Nobody knows better than parents what their children need. Nobody works harder than teachers to prepare our students to meet the challenges of tomorrow. We can only improve our schools if parents and teachers have a seat at the table where decisions are made. As your school board member, I will build a team to make partnerships, not politics, a priority. I will bring people together , not pull them apart – teachers, students, parents, administrators, and the school board. We need a school board that models the behaviors we want for our children; a board that respects teachers, parents, and students, and works with them to make the best decisions about our schools.

Here's what Green said (the underlined material is the same as Kemper's):

Nobody knows better than parents what their kids need. Nobody works harder than teachers to prepare our students to meet the challenges of tomorrow. As your school board member, I will build a team to make partnerships a priority, bring ing people – children, teachers, parents, staff, administrators, community members and the school board. We need a school board that respects teachers, parents, and students, and works with them in partnership to make the best decisions about our schools.

Did you see Kemper even has the nerve to write: "We need a school board that models the behaviors we want for our children."

Yeah, right. She'd make a great role model for our kids - a plagiarist. If our kids did what she and Green did, their teachers would flunk them (as they should!). I don't want my kid "modeling" her behavior, do you?

This is not a trivial matter, or a simple mistake. Kemper and Green plagiarized the very statement that is supposed to communicate to you why you should vote for them. Their actions make a mockery of our schools' academic disciplinary policy. It would be an embarrassment to have them in charge of our schools.

Lassen County development under fire

Media release
October 26, 2007

Contacts: Steve Robinson (530) 256-3982

Peter Van Zant (530) 265-2849
Tom Mooers (530) 265-2849
Terry Davis (916) 557-1100 x 108


Sierra Nevada’s Largest Development Proposal Deemed Irresponsible, Illegal by Mountain Meadows Conservancy , Sierra Watch, and Sierra Club

Susanville ( Lassen County ), CA, October 26, 2007 – A powerful coalition of local, state, and national conservation groups petitioned Lassen County Superior Court yesterday to overturn the county’s approval of a massive resort development project proposed for remote Dyer Mountain .

Dyer Mountain Associates proposes 4,000 new homes, three golf courses, and a ski resort on 7,000 acres of forest lands in remote Lassen County .

“The county has an obligation to look before it leaps into approving a development that threatens everything we love about Lassen County ,” said Steve Robinson of Mountain Meadows Conservancy . “That’s not just common sense; it’s also the law.”

Local residents contend that the project would overrun existing communities; at build out, the new development would dwarf neighboring Westwood and stress county services. The threatened landscape also has important wildlife, watershed, and cultural value. Dyer Mountain is home to bald eagles and an important part of the Feather River watershed. And it’s the ancestral home of the local Honey Lake Maidu tribe.

In a sweeping fifteen-page petition to Lassen County Superior Court, Mountain Meadows Conservancy , Sierra Watch, and Sierra Club contend that approval of the proposed development was not only irresponsible but also illegal.

A version of the project was initially approved by a voter initiative in 2000. Since then, the scope of the project, as well as the prospects for its actual completion, have changed dramatically.

The initial project proposed about 1,000 houses and a ski resort, with construction guaranteed by fall of this year. It has ballooned into a massive proposal of more than 4,000 resort homes, with no completion date in sight.

In the meantime, the project is mired in deepening legal and financial turmoil. The development proponents, Dyer Mountain Associates, have been subject to at least four lawsuits and two scathing court orders. In May, San Francisco Superior Court assigned a majority stake in DMA to a court appointed receiver, stating that DMA “…is in default of outstanding loans to creditors, payroll, rent and other financial obligations.”

In June, Santa Cruz Superior Court ordered a lien placed on DMA, ordering the Lassen County Sheriff to “attach” Dyer Mountain property until payment. And in August DMA was sued by a creditor for defaulting on a $10 million loan.

“Any way your look at it, this project simply does not make sense,” contends Peter Van Zant of Sierra Watch. “It ignores every lesson we’ve learned about planning in the Sierra Nevada – threatening our irreplaceable resources and local communities with irresponsible development.”

The lawsuit clearly contends that Lassen County violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when it approved the project last month. CEQA is the foundation of environmental policy in California ; it requires state and local decision makers to consider the environmental consequences of their actions. But environmental review of the Dyer Mountain project failed to assess its impacts on issues ranging from local traffic patterns to global climate change.

Conservationists throughout California are taking note. Earlier this month, the 700,000-member Sierra Club signed on to the suit to stop the Dyer Mountain project.

“We recognize that growth will continue in the Sierra Nevada ,” says Terry Davis of Sierra Club. “Our goal is to encourage responsible growth instead of irresponsible development that consumes our scenic forest habitat.”

In the coming months, the Court will assign a judge to the case. There is no time table for resolving the case.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” says Robinson of Mountain Meadows Conservancy . “Our own communities and surrounding landscapes are at stake.”

The Mountain Meadows Conservancy 's mission is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty and environmental health of the Mountain Meadows watershed; protect its significant Mountain Maidu burial and cultural sites; and provide recreation and public access for generations to come. For more information, visit

Sierra Watch defends the incomparable natural resources and unparalleled quality of life in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. For more information, call (530) 265-2849 or visit

# # #

Angora: County completes tree removal

October 26, 2007

Debris Removal Operations Center Closing

(South Lake Tahoe, CA)—The El Dorado County Department of Environmental Management announced the completion of the Angora Fire hazard tree removal program.

Under the program, 8,511 tons of hazard trees were removed from over 400 non-federal, non-state owned lots in the burn area.

The county authorized the program on August 28 after soliciting informal bids from licensed timber operators. Sierra Pacific Industries won the contract by offering a zero bid for the tree removal work.

The tree program was organized following the structural debris removal program, a joint effort between El Dorado County, the California Integrated Waste Management Board and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Nearly 70,000 tons of structural debris were removed in the weeks following the fire.

With the conclusion of the hazard tree program, El Dorado County will begin sending bills to property owners for their debris removal work. Property owners who signed up for the program agreed to reimburse the county for debris removal to the extent covered in the owner’s insurance policy.

The Debris Removal Operation Center set up at the Elks Club in the wake of the fire to oversee debris and tree removal will close this week.

Property owners with questions regarding debris billing are encouraged to contact the El Dorado County Environmental Management Department at (530) 621-5300, or (530) 573-7955 ext. 5300 from South Lake Tahoe.

“Our debris and tree programs were very successful and we are happy to conclude this phase of the recovery process,” said county Environmental Management Director Gerri Silva. “At the same time, our hearts are breaking for the victims in Southern California because we have a small taste of what they will be up against in terms of cleanup.”


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fire season still real in NorCal

October 24, 2007
Amador-El Dorado Remains in Fire Season
Camino – CAL FIRE would like to remind homeowners in Amador and El Dorado Counties that, we remain in fire season. The Amador-El Dorado Unit has committed over 35 single resource personnel, 8 engines, 8 hand crews, two dozers, a Mobile Kitchen Unit (MKU) and Mobil Communications Center (MCC) to Southern California.
Even though we have a significant commitment of resource in the south, the Unit remains staffed with 10 engines, one dozer and one hand crew in preparation for warm,dry and possibly windy conditions predicted for the upcoming weekend in Northern
Due to the commitment of resources in Southern California and predicted warm and dry conditions it is not likely there will be a permissive burn day for some time. Burn permit are required for all backyard burning. Prior to burning call the following burn information lines for burn day status:
Amador County (209) 223-6246
El Dorado County (530) 621-5897.
Amador-El Dorado Unit
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bi-state fire commish cancels Nov. meeting

This message is sent on behalf of Commission Co-Chair Sig Rogich and Co-Chair Kate Dargan:

Due to the devastating fire siege in Southern California, the California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission and Committee Meetings scheduled for November 8-9, 2007 at Incline Village are cancelled. We may reschedule if time and circumstances permit; and/or proceed to the next scheduled date in December.

Your understanding is greatly appreciated

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sac Biz Journal -- Tahoe's economy

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tahoe's tourism economy singed by fire, chilled by skimpy snow

Sacramento Business Journal -
by Kathryn Reed Correspondent

If Lake Tahoe believed the adage "there's no such thing as bad publicity," the Angora Fire changed its mind.

Tourism is at the heart of the Tahoe economy, but print and broadcast reports in late June seared the image of Tahoe going up in flames into people's minds. The fire destroyed more than 250 homes and charred about 3,100 acres, and news coverage was global.

The pictures of devastation told only part of the story, though. No tourist ever has to drive through the South Lake Tahoe neighborhood that was consumed by fire and reduced to rubble, yet tourism on the lake's south shore came to a screeching halt for much of July.

The fire came at a lousy time for the region, mere months after a winter that brought just a fraction of the usual snowfall. That cut into winter tourism dollars and led to an early end to the season and job cuts at some ski resorts. Retailers and others depending on tourists were banking on summer to help, only to see the Angora blaze squelch things just before the Fourth of July.

All those ills came against the national backdrop of tightened credit, delinquent subprime loans and a soft housing market.

One bad snow year and the fire alone won't destabilize the entire Lake Tahoe economy, said Tom Cargill, economics professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. "What makes this particular year different is the mortgage problem. Nevada and California rank very high in foreclosures," Cargill said. "There's evidence the mortgage problem goes way beyond the subprime problem."

Tourists and millionaires
Many houses in Lake Tahoe are second homes. In South Lake Tahoe, only 25 percent are occupied by full-time residents.

"People are stretched in trying to service that debt," Cargill said of those with vacation homes in the basin. "Second homes often have a higher interest rate. Lending institutions see them as more risky. The problem is houses are not selling. That's probably more of a threat to the Tahoe basin than a bad winter or fire."

However, houses costing several million dollars are on the move in Tahoe. A weak dollar has made property cheaper for foreign investors -- whether they are buying in the Sierra or elsewhere. "Lake Tahoe is one of the jewels of world. People want to come. For that reason it will always be valuable," Cargill said.

It's the middle and lower classes who will feel any economic sting. When purse strings tighten, people have less discretionary income. In an area where the primary industry is tourism, dwindling tourist dollars quickly show up on the bottom line at restaurants, casinos, recreation venues and other service businesses.

That's what happened after the fire, with the brunt of the blow hitting the south shore. Those on the north shore dealt with a couple of days of smoke, but the fallout for them was minimal.

"There were some short-term benefits," said Andy Chapman, director of tourism for the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. "Some people who were planning to go to the south shore rearranged their schedule and came to the north shore."

Telephones were ringing more than usual at the Resort at Squaw Creek while the fire was out of control.

"What we saw were people who really weren't familiar with the geography canceling their vacation," said Les Pederson, director of sales and marketing for Squaw Creek. Still, he said the resort had a record June and strong August.

Northstar-at-Tahoe received an urgent call from folks at Stanford Sierra Camp asking if guests and employees could head to the Truckee-area resort. Stanford Camp had a good view from the shore of Fallen Leaf Lake of the blazing Angora ridge. Northstar filled about 10 units with Stanford guests and housed 70 employees for a couple of days.

Despite the fire and the Fourth of July falling midweek, Northstar had a better summer in 2007 than 2006. A lot had to do with construction of the village being complete.

Snowless in the Sierra
Summer is the busiest time throughout the Tahoe basin, with winter the No. 2 season. No. 2 was pretty bad last year, with little snow to draw visitors from the Sacramento Valley and San Francisco Bay area to the mountains.

High hopes were pinned on summer. May, often questionable weatherwise, was downright balmy. Harvey's Outdoor Concert Series started with Sammy Hagar performing in mid-June over Opening Day on the Lake weekend.

Then June 24 came, and with it flames. The fire wasn't contained until July 2. Even Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plugs to return to Tahoe weren't enough to get tourists into the mountains that month.

"Right when people were solidifying their summer vacation we got quite a few cancellations. July was really off," said John Packer, spokesman for Harrah's Lake Tahoe and Harveys. "July is usually our strongest month of the year in terms of gaming. Summer represents 40 percent and up of the total annual gaming revenue for casinos," he said.

"We really lost the destination traveler after the fire," said Patrick Kaler, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. "There really was no way to get them back at that point in the summer because they thought Tahoe burned down."

Making it in Lake Tahoe has been a gamble for businesses since Nevada casino pioneers Harvey Gross and Bill Harrah were alive. A stream of tourists is crucial, and weather affects that stream.

Companies such as Aramark Corp., which runs Zephyr Cove Resort and Tahoe cruise boats, took a double hit this year because the lackluster snowfall devastated the snowmobile season and the fire didn't entice people to want to board a paddle-wheeler.

"The fire affected us pretty drastically. The lack of visibility when the fire first happened isn't a time when most people want to go out on the boat," said spokeswoman Carol Chaplin. "More than that was the perception ... that it was unsafe and that fire was engulfing the lake instead of it being specifically located in one area. I think it was hard for people to grasp the geographic part of the equation. I was surprised that in July I still heard the comments, 'Is it safe to go up there? Is the air clear?' "

The Tahoe Queen, one of two paddle-wheelers the company operates on the south shore, sat idle one day during the throes of the fire. Chaplin estimated business being off by about 25 percent for the summer.

Last winter's snowmobile season was abysmal.

"Our snowmobile operation runs on totally natural snowfall, so the light snowfall and warmer temperatures both contributed to not being able to run a full season," Chaplin said.

Jerry Bindel runs Lakeland Village and is president of the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association. He estimates July was off about 9 percent throughout the south shore, but said things rebounded in August.

"Is this going to be a banner year? Absolutely not," he said. "For the year we are down. We had six years of consistent growth in occupancy and (revenue). This year will end more similar to 2005 levels. Still a good year, just not as good. We had a significant 2006."

Let it snow
Tahoe businesses are looking to the ski season with hope for a better winter. Season-pass sales for Lake Tahoe resorts were sputtering this summer. However, fall price increase deadlines and the snow that's already sticking in the higher elevations are providing incentives for riders to buy passes.

Booth Creek Ski Holdings Inc., which owns Sierra-at-Tahoe on the south shore and Northstar, said the autumn snow was a boon to pass sales.

Advanced reservations for winter lodging around the lake are a mixed bag.

Throughout the south shore, pre-bookings for December, January and February are comparable to this time last year, Bindel said.

Chapman, on the north shore, said advance reservations are up 10 percent for November over last year, December is up 3 percent and January is up 2 percent.

"That's good news in terms of pre-winter demand. Snow is what will make it happen," Chapman said. "There is pent-up demand from last year. The ski public is like gamblers. Last year Lake Tahoe didn't have great snow. They're thinking it's not going to happen two years in a row."

Northstar, Harrah's, Harveys and Resort at Squaw Creek all are encouraged by the number of rooms secured for the upcoming winter season.

"This winter we are looking pretty good. We have bookings for December and January, but we're not full by any means," said Jerry Birdwell, who owns the Black Bear Inn in South Lake. "Pre-bookings are slower than they were last year. I think they are waiting to see what the weather is going to be like," he said.

"I think the aftermath of the fire is wearing off. All in all 2007 has been a rough year for the economy up here. We're hoping for a good winter," said Packer, the casino spokesman.

Some in the region already are thinking of next summer, particularly if the hoped-for snow doesn't arrive. That could bring a more horrendous fire.

But there is a silver lining; the fire focused government attention on thinning the forest.

Monday, October 15, 2007

LTVA features A Massage at Tahoe

Inside View From Blue

A Massage at Tahoe
Kae Reed, Owner and Massage Therapist
A Massage at Tahoe offers traditional and unique massages that cater to each individual’s relaxation needs. Pamper yourself with a soothing massage, a facial, or a nourishing foot treatment for either 30, 60 or 90 minutes. Relax and enjoy a massage any day of the week. We’re located at 2264 Lake Tahoe Boulevard (Highway 50) at Tahoe Keys Boulevard.

Blue: How long have you been a resident of South Shore Lake Tahoe?
Kae: That depends if you count both times. I first moved to South Lake after graduating from college in 1988. I left 18 months later to backpack through Europe. I moved back here in August 2002.

Blue: Where did you move from?
Kae: I had been living in Sonoma County and working at the San Francisco Chronicle full time and massaging part time.

Blue: I understand you love the outdoors; what activities do you partake in at Lake Tahoe?
Kae: Tennis is my favorite sport, but it’s a bit difficult to play here in the winter. Hiking, biking (road and mountain), skiing (downhill and cross country), snowshoeing – those are the sports I enjoy. Being in Tahoe makes it easy to enjoy the outdoors without sweating. I love taking my dog, Bailey, for walks at Cove East, barbecuing, taking visitors through the Tallac Site and walking on any beach.

Blue: How long have you been a massage therapist?
Kae: I graduated from the National Holistic Institute in Emeryville (near Berkeley) in 1997. I worked for different places on a part-time basis before establishing A Massage at Tahoe in 2005.

Blue: You offer a variety of massages from sports, to Shiatsu, to deep tissue…which tends to be the most common technique you use in Lake Tahoe?
Kae: Deep tissue and sports are the most requested massages in Tahoe. It has a lot to do with living that outdoor lifestyle and needing to be rejuvenated for another day of fun.

Blue: What is your favorite type of massage to give to your clients?
Kae: I think the ultimate in relaxation and pampering is an hour massage of any kind, combined with a 30-minute herbal cleansing facial massage and a 30-minute nourishing foot treatment. You might only have the energy to sit in a hot tub afterward, but the next day your body is so ready to take on whatever activity you choose – even if that activity is in the casinos. It’s a fun package to give because of the variety of treatments involved -- and the response from clients after the two hours is incredible.

Blue: Have you worked your magic hands on massaging anyone famous?
Kae: I’ve had my hands on politicians, athletes, actors and other celebrities. I have given chair massages for a couple years on Hole 9 during the American Century Celebrity Golf Tournament at Edgewood Tahoe. Howie Nave at the Harveys Improv has sent a few comedians over to my three-room spa for a 60- or 90-minute massage.

Blue: Can you share one of your most memorable massage stories?
Kae: New Year’s Eve day 2005 started with rain and flooding and turned to snow and no electricity. I did an outcall (that’s when you go to where the client is staying), and the heat had long left the house. I was cold, so I knew the client had to be -- even under the down comforter I had grabbed off the bed. At another outcall for a group of skiers one of the guys didn’t have enough cash to pay me, so he gave me Harrah’s gaming chips. Then there was the first time a guy asked for a full body massage, and I didn’t realize what he was asking for. My naiveté was gone; I asked the guy to leave instead of being uncomfortable for the rest of the massage.

Blue: How else do you spend your time in South Shore Lake Tahoe?
Kae: When my fingers aren’t massaging, they are on a keyboard. My other job is as a freelance writer for a variety of publications.

Blue: What is your favorite activity to do in summer time around South Shore Lake Tahoe?
Kae: A perfect day is doing some outdoor activity – hiking, biking, tennis – followed by a hot tub, getting a massage, barbecuing with friends and drinking a glass of wine (Sonoma or El Dorado county most likely) and then another hot tub before bed.

Blue: Do you have a favorite dining spot?
Kae: As a vegetarian, I prefer Freshies for casual dining and Café Fiore for fine dining.

Blue: What's an inside scoop that you could tell a new visitor to the South Shore?
Kae: I have clients ask for recommendations all the time. For first timers, I always say they must devote a day to driving around the lake, stopping wherever and whenever to take in the natural beauty, hike, eat and shop. At a minimum, Emerald Bay is a must see – whether it’s from the vista point, hiking down to Vikingsholm or taking a paddle-wheeler on the lake. Having a bloody Mary at the Beacon, taking in the view from there and then strolling through the Tallac Historic Site is another outing I recommend because it’s so gorgeous and one of the few historical points we have here.

Oct. 15 SLT city manager's report

Electronic Version

October 14, 2007


“The obstacle to creation is, in a sense, reality itself - i.e. ‘reality’ as we assume it to be. The Idea Person does not accept this reality, even though he or she may be, and preferably is, highly realistic.” What a Great Idea, Charles Thompson

“We need to make the world safe for creativity and intuition, for its creativity and intuition that will make the world safe for us.” Edgar Mitchell, Apollo Astronaut



Four hundred seventy eight (478) California cities are required under State law to develop a comprehensive general plan to guide growth and development over a twenty (20) year planning period. State law requires seven mandatory planning elements be part of the plan. The City of South Lake Tahoe has the same requirement, but it is uniquely situated within the Tahoe Region and land-use policies (commercial, residential, industry, affordable housing, open space, facilities etc) must be consistent with the adopted TRPA Regional Plan.

Why do we need a City general plan?

The preparation of a comprehensive general plan and its adoption as part of the developing TRPA Regional Plan is the top Strategic Plan priority adopted by the City Council in 2007 because of the recognition by the City Council that all other planning and land use decisions emanate from the plan and must be consistent with the plan. The City General Plan becomes the adopted and constitutionally-protected strategic plan that lays the foundation for all land-use and regulatory City decisions relating to development of the community. In addition, the adoption of a City General Plan that is more than a recitation of regional issues, is contemplated and encouraged in Article VI of the TRPA Bi-State Compact when it states,

“Whenever possible without diminishing the effectiveness of the regional plan, the ordinances, rules, regulations and policies shall be confined to matters which are general and regional in application, leaving to the jurisdiction of the respective States, counties and cities the enactment of specific and local ordinances, and rules, regulations and policies which conform to the regional plan.”

The preparation of a comprehensive City general plan and environmental impact report, housing element (required to be updated every five years and must be adopted by July 2008), and the integration of these plans into the TRPA Regional Plan now underway is one of the most complicated general planning efforts undertaken by a California city. California cities, except South Lake Tahoe, do not reside with in a Bi-State Compact and do not have to bring their general plans into conformance to adopted regional plans that are in place. Although incorporated in 1965, City government has never had a comprehensive general plan prepared by general plan experts according to the City’s Community Development Director. As a result, City land-use decisions (essential to economic development initiatives) have been largely left to TRPA that has a broader regional focus rather than a full-City service focus. Economic growth and development have suffered and continue to suffer while City planning issues have been largely made by TRPA and not locally elected officials based on a comprehensive City General Plan.

More than a Document on a Bureaucrat’s Book Shelf

Preparing a meaningful general plan that is more than a document that occupies space on a bureaucrats book shelf takes more than the work of amateurs and the inexperienced. It must be developed and crafted with skill, knowledge, and experience that include an effective public outreach program. It must clearly articulate the City vision and include within its policies the authority for City government to undertake the desired projects and activities. By embracing and committing to the City General Plan and its strategic goals, City government is moving forward on the path to achieve these goals.

The General Plan as a Strategic Tool

The City Council has adopted a number of important strategic plan objectives including Smart Growth, economic diversification, strengthening the important tourism base, strengthening local businesses, encouraging and supporting the development of quality workforce housing, improving storm drainage facilities and services, improving neighborhoods, developing joint facilities, improving streets, delivering a high quality of public safety services to the community, creating bicycle trails and open spaces, protecting the environment, creating a viable, self sustaining, and environmentally-friendly airport, and encouraging greater business opportunities within the City limits.

To maintain and improve City services, retain qualified City employees, build and maintain needed streets, drainage and utility infrastructure, have adequate resources to finance needed and desired public safety services, a stronger and more viable local economy is needed and must be achieved. The City’s General Plan and its strategic focus establish the foundation for these community improvement and enrichment goals to be achieved.

To achieve these important and lofty objectives, City government is developing a comprehensive general plan that allows for and encourages these plans to be implemented. City government has a responsibility “to plan for the City’s future” and represent the public interest at all levels of government to help to ensure that these objectives are achieved. Having a meaningful, comprehensive and effective City general plan ensures that City government is prepared to accomplish the mission.

A comprehensive City general planning process is underway, and it is important for people in the community to become involved in the process. The City Planning Commission will serve an important role in facilitating development of the preliminary plan, holding public meetings, discussing land-use objectives and policies and eventually recommending a general plan to the City Council for adoption. The City Council will then evaluate the proposed plan, hear public comment and then adopt a plan and recommend it to the TRPA Governing Board for adoption.

The City Council and City management anticipates that by doing a great job on the City General Plan and gaining a community consensus on it and its strategic objectives that the TRPA Governing Board will recognize the high quality work and adopt the City’s General Plan as a part of the Regional Plan. Any City General Plan proposed must be consistent with the environmental thresholds in the proposed regional plan.

KEEPING PEOPLE SHOPPING IN TOWN – Good for the Environment and Good for Local Economics

A study done by economists for City government (RRC) discovered that City business and City government lose over $219,000,000 annually to other shopping areas. Local residents are voting with their feet (or more appropriately their vehicle) to shop out town for products they want and need in stores and centers. This is not good news for existing local businesses that lose customers, City government that relies on sales tax and property tax to finance services to the community, and the environment that bears the brunt of the commuting and pollution of residents shopping out of town and the congestion associated with it.

The City Strategic Plan contemplates that a vigorous effort will be made to identify adequate land with proper entitlements for new and desired businesses to locate in town, support business-friendly regulations that help existing businesses grow and expand and diversify the job base to increase wealth for all residents who want to work and live in South Lake Tahoe.

The development of a comprehensive general plan that allows for this economic growth and economic diversification is absolutely essential to achieve this objective. With the plan in place, achieving the economic diversification and retail growth goals become one of execution by policy makers City management.

If we are to maintain services to the community and even improve them, we must have a strong, healthy, diversified and vigorous local economy. Creating the type of shopping opportunities in town that people are looking for is part of the economic growth and revenue enhancement model. Resources, time, and effort must be made to attract commercial retailers desired by the community. Existing efforts to work with existing retailers to expand and improve their business must continue.

If there is one goal that should be shared by all, it is the imperative that we grow and improve our local economy and do so in the near term.


The Executive Officer of the Lahontan Regional Water Quality control Board sent a reply to my letter of August 28, 2007 concerning City Council and management concern over potential contamination from the Angora Fire burn area from winter runoff.

Mr. Singer states that while he does not think it is necessary to issue an enforcement order to the USFS at this time, “…we will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the mitigation measures, and will suggest additional measures in response to conditions that may occur in the winter.”

Mr. Singer also clarifies the issue of City liability by stating that “Permittees are only responsible for flows generated within their respective jurisdictions. The City, therefore, cannot be held liable for runoff exceeding effluent limits that originates outside jurisdictional boundaries…”

Finally, Mr. Singer states his support for funds from the State’s Cleanup and Abatement Account “…to cover some of the local government’s increased maintenance costs associated with runoff from the Angora Fire…” Mr. Singer’s support and that of his Board of City cleanup efforts and funding of maintenance costs are welcome and appreciated.

At this time, City government has not received a written reply from the USFS regarding the mitigation concerns raised by the City Council and City management.


As you will recall, Caltrans re-programmed $870,000 for the traffic signal improvement project at the Wye in September 2007. The project at that time looked dead. The Director of Public Works and his staff continued seeking funds for the project.

On Friday he informed me of the following:

“Based upon the previous e-mail (below) that I sent you, we met with the TTD/C today to discuss the project funding and whether to proceed forward. We presented a funding plan that included additional Caltrans funds, RSTP funds and Air Quality mitigation funds to replace the funds pulled from the project by Caltrans. I have attached a spread sheet that contains the new project estimate and funding sources. We received approval to move forward with the Signal project and the work on the Runnels’ property. We anticipate bidding the project in the Spring.

We will begin the fund encumber process. Please let me know if you have any concerns or questions.”

The Public Works Director and his staff did a good job working with regional agencies to revive the project and specifically the Tahoe Transportation District (TTD)/Commission. Attending the Commission meeting in support of the Project was Mayor Pro Tempore Mike Weber and Assistant City Manager Rick Angelocci. I sent a letter of support to the Commission as well.

Congratulations John Greenhut and Public Works staff for a job well done and thanks also to the TTD Board members for their support of the project.


On September 17, 2007 the architect for the School District met with City staff to discuss a design concept for the proposed joint facilities project. The architect, retained by the District, will next be meeting individually with City Department heads whose departments would be part of a consolidated facility to discuss space needs.

Once the space needs are assessed and determined by the District and City and joint–use space defined, the cost of the project can be better defined and the feasibility of the project assessed. A report to the City Council will be made when this information is available.


I recently sent a letter to the owners of Lukins Water Company seeking their cooperation and assistance to upgrade their water system in compliance with their existing franchise agreement and State law. I recently received a response to my letter, and I am having it evaluated by the City Attorney’s Office. I plan to schedule a meeting with Lukins representatives in the near terms to discuss the matter.

Under the leadership of the City Council, the goal has been to see that the water system is improved and reliable for domestic and fire fighting needs and done so without massive rate increases (rate shocks) that users cannot afford. The City Council has encouraged and supported City management efforts to search for ways to assist with system upgrades without burdening the general public with these costs.

The Lukins System must be upgraded for public safety purposes.

City Manager

Fire commish considers state of emergency for Tahoe

By Barbara Barte Osborn - Bee Correspondent
Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, October 14, 2007
Story appeared in METRO section, Page B3

A two-state fire commission charged with examining the Tahoe basin's vulnerability to wildfire has voted to start gathering information to show that the basin is in a state of emergency.

The California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission's lone federal representative cast the only dissenting vote Friday on a motion "to proceed with an intent to find that a state of emergency exists and to then recommend that both governors declare a state of emergency due to high fuel levels in the basin."

In a second vote, the commission directed a committee to develop a record of fact that an emergency exists.

"We think it's justified, but we first need to demonstrate that factually," said Todd Ferrara, the commission's spokesman. "I would foresee it coming back for a formal vote in December or January."

Jim Peña, who represents the U.S. Forest Service on the commission, said his concern is that an emergency declaration "could be sending a false message to the public that the risks or hazards will be completely abated in a short time."

Removal of the tremendous buildup of hazardous fuels in the basin is bound to take several years, he said in an interview, "and it's difficult to sustain an emergency state."

However, at Friday's all-day meeting in Tahoe City, Peña said, "There was a strong feeling by everybody but me that a state of emergency should be declared ... to get the fuel work funded to reduce the (fire) threat."

"I completely understand the rationale of the other members, and I'll support it from here on," Peña said. "In concept, they believe it's the right thing to do, but it's going to take more staff work to develop a basis and findings."

Kate Dargan, California's state fire marshal, said, "You need to know the level of emergency, what funding could be obtained, how it would be implemented and how success would be measured."

One key challenge: the need to reduce high fuel levels in the Lake Tahoe basin.

"It's not just the high fuel loads in the basin," said Dargan. "That certainly is a key element. But it's also the connection between the lake and the high fuel load.

"Heavy fuel loads exist all over the West, but they don't threaten an internationally known lake that's one of only two in the world," she said. "It warrants a different look."

The commission was established by the two states' governors after June's Angora fire on the west side of South Lake Tahoe.

After studying various approaches to reducing the threat of wildfires while protecting the environment, the commission is to submit a report and recommendations to the governors by March 21.

Caused by an illegal campfire, the Angora fire began June 24, burned 3,100 acres of forest and wooded subdivisions and destroyed more than 250 homes, as well as 75 commercial and other structures.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

WSJ takes on Tahoe

Tahoe's Next Gamble
The lake's South Shore tries for some Vegas glam
October 13, 2007; Page W3

Along Highway 50 on Lake Tahoe's South Shore, bulldozers eat away at the cinder-block skeletons of T-shirt shops and 1960-era motels to make room for luxury condos and a giant spa. Across the street at the old, garish Caesars Tahoe -- rechristened last year as the Montbleu Resort Casino and Spa -- the Imperial Roman motifs have fallen. In their place are blue LED bulbs and a Party Pit, where blackjack is dealt by women in backless shirts and hip huggers.

High Stakes: Resorts on the shore of Lake Tahoe
Massive redevelopment and an influx of wealth in recent years have all but wiped out the old kitschy charm of Tahoe's southern shore. As the transformation proceeds, the area is trying to become all things to all people: an upscale resort town as well as a draw for the younger set looking for all-night clubs and tequila shots.

It's a similar formula playing out in vacation spots across the country, from Atlantic City, N.J., to Aspen, Colo. And while it means new draws for visitors, not all locals are happy about the changes. In Tahoe, ski bums are becoming an endangered species, with many migrating to cheaper slopes in areas such as Bear Valley near California's Gold Country. As many locals relocate to flee rising house prices, congestion is snarling roads. Recently spotted: a "Keep Tahoe Blue Collar" bumper sticker, playing off the old "Keep Tahoe Blue" environmental sticker.

Now, development is beginning to spread to the sleepier North Shore, long a more laid-back alternative to the South. A luxury condo-hotel is in the works at Frank Sinatra's old haunt, the Cal Neva Resort. Analysts say that developers have learned from the South Shore's projects about how to work within Tahoe's rigid restrictions, instituted in the 1970s when the lake's celebrated clarity began to suffer from overdevelopment.

Anyone wondering what the North Shore could look like in a few years should spend a weekend on the South Shore, where the tourism industry is gearing up for the winter ski season.

Ski Run Boulevard, running from Heavenly Ski Resort virtually to the lake, was once a rundown street with old toilets discarded in front yards. Now, it's lined with boutique lodges and Italian restaurants. The old Dream Inn -- where the wallpaper was crushed velvet and the ceiling sparkled with gold-veined mirrors -- reopened last summer as the Deerfield Lodge, a 12-suite hotel with fireplaces in every room and a car port illuminated by a chandelier.

A familiar sight of the old South Shore was the senior-citizen slot player who hopped a bus from the Sacramento, Calif., area. Today, more high rollers are pouring in, including Asian players from the Bay Area. Harrah's spent more than $5 million to expand and renovate its high-limit gaming area and open a Cantonese restaurant with $100 desserts.

In contrast, the Block hotel caters to the younger crowd. Resembling a teenage boy's version of a bachelor pad (there's a PlayStation 2 in every room), the hotel hosts snowboarders and others looking for cheaper digs. Upon check-in, guests are handed a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a couple of energy drinks. Jeremy Choffel, a hotel guest, recounts his plans for the evening: a toga party at a nearby nightclub. "I've already got my sheet," he says, pointing to his hotel room's bed.

But locals say that those coming to party are missing out on the best of what Tahoe has to offer: its natural beauty, showcasing the 10th-deepest lake in the world, surrounded by soaring peaks of pine and fir trees.

Tahoe is a year-round destination, but with ski season approaching, some businesses are jittery. Last year produced one of the paltriest snowfalls in decades -- just 40% of usual levels. Then, just before July 4, the Angora fire struck, burning 3,100 acres, destroying more than 250 homes and driving away tourists.

The area has about 15 ski resorts, including Squaw Valley, known for its difficult runs, and Heavenly, known for its long ones. The slopes of Homewood, one of the area's smallest ski resorts, make you feel as though you will plunge right into the lake's icy water.

Nearly 30 years ago, Whit Hickman, a salesman in Portland, Ore., was yet another Tahoe ski bum, working the slopes at Heavenly. Now he brings his wife and kids every couple of years in the summer to bike and hike. "So many of the old fun places seem to have disappeared," he says. "There's a lot more to do now. But I still miss the old stuff."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Massage at Tahoe has moved ...

A Massage at Tahoe…
Your body calls

Isn’t it time you took care of yourself? Feel relaxed and rejuvenated with a therapeutic massage -- add a spa treatment for the ultimate experience.

Kae Reed, certified massage therapist since 1997, has moved her business to 2197 Lake Tahoe Blvd., No. 8. This is between Tahoe Keys Boulevard and Third Street in South Lake Tahoe.

Her two-room spa is ideal for couples and friends. Check out for all the details. Or call 530.318.4806.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Organic food on the slopes

Vail ski resorts opting for organic foods
Posted: 10/12/2007
STORY CHAT(read or post comments) Zoom [+] Buy this photo

Heavenly Mountain Resort, seen high above Lake Tahoe in California, is one of Vail Resorts’ operations that will go with healthier products starting this ski season. Vail Resorts is based in Broomfield, Colo.


EDAWN picks top businesses of the year


DENVER -- Skiers and snowboarders lunching at Vail Resorts' restaurants this winter will find a wide array of all-

natural burgers, hot dogs and even yogurt without a hint of chemical additives.

The nation's largest ski operator said Wednesday that it will shift away from artificially enhanced products to address increasing consumer demand for healthier food.

Nearly all the lunch offerings at 40 restaurants in the company's five ski resorts will consist of natural and organic products beginning this season. The company typically serves about 2.5 million lunches each winter at Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek and Keystone in Colorado and Heavenly at Lake Tahoe on the Nevada-

California line.

Vail Resorts has partnered with Coleman Natural Foods and WhiteWave Foods, which manufactures Horizon Organic and Silk products, for the new venture.

During a news conference, Vail Resorts Chief Executive Officer Rob Katz declined to release financial specifics other than to say his company is making a significant investment.

Consumers will see prices increase less than 5 percent, roughly a typical yearly

rise, he said.

Nationally, sales of organic food and beverages rose

21 percent last year to

$16.7 billion.

At least some organic and natural food items can be found in tourist restaurants from national parks to the Statue of Liberty, Organic Trade Association spokeswoman Barbara Haumann said.

The Broomfield, Colo.-based resort operator began endorsing environmentally friendly strategies last year with its shift to wind-generated electricity at all its resorts.

Work on the food partnership began during a company "food summit" in May. The company soon determined the biggest obstacle would be to guarantee a large enough supply.

It turned to Golden-based Coleman Natural, which distributes natural and organic meat products, and Broomfield-based WhiteWave.

This season, Vail Resorts figures it will need more than 447,000 pounds of various meats, 48,000 pounds of organic butter, 137,000 pounds of organic cheese, 30,000 pounds of organic yogurt and

64,000 gallons of organic milk and cream products.

As Coleman and WhiteWave continue to make accommodations to meet the demand, Vail Resorts will start by buying about 90 percent of its fresh meats from Coleman and about 87 percent of its dairy products from WhiteWave, a subsidiary of Dean Foods Co. It still is working to get enough of some items, such as eggs and ice cream.

Tahoe fire rules change

Lake Tahoe officials look to reduce wildfire dangers

Posted: 10/12/2007

Lake Tahoe area fire chiefs and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency officials have agreed on steps to reduce wildfire danger.

Changes were recommended in a letter last month to the

California-Nevada Fire Commission, formed by the governors of the two states after the Angora Fire destroyed 254 homes outside South Lake Tahoe in June. In most cases, no changes to existing TRPA rules will be necessary to satisfy the fire chiefs' desires, officials said.

Changes include:

Raising from 6 to 14 inches the diameter of a tree than can be removed without a permit for defensible space.

Allowing fire agency reviews of plans to ensure adequate emergency vehicle access.

Maintaining the current practice of installing a 5-foot noncombustible "moat."

Allowing 100 feet of defensible space around structures, expanding to 300 feet on steep slopes.

Agency officials said they need more discussions about continuing to allow the use of using pine needles for erosion control in defensible space areas.

Angora --Fire victim's story

unedited oct. mt. news article:

Editor’s note: This is a monthly article about one of the hundreds of people who lost their homes in the Angora Fire.

By Kathryn Reed

Every Sunday, John Mauriello goes to his Mount Olympia Circle lot. It’s like visiting a cemetery. He meditates. He communes with a life he had.
“I want to get out of my life as it is right now. It’s pure hell,” he said Sept. 24.
He’s tired of the sleepless nights, of waking up in the wee hours of the mornings. The tears have stopped. The anger has taken hold.
Like all losses, the grieving process is a natural progression. He finds a sense of comfort when talking to neighbors. (He still calls them neighbors despite everyone being scattered about the area.) They know what he’s going through in a way the rest of the community will never quite be able to grasp.
“The first thing out of my mouth is ‘I hate myself, I hate my life.’ I have never done that,” Mauriello said. “I’m a fighter. I hate what I’m going through and I hate everything that is happening.”
It’s not a refrain of someone who is suicidal – though clearly a voice of depression. He is ready to move on – in the sense of finding a permanent place to call home.
A “for sale” sign is on his lot.
Mauriello is done with being beaten down by the stress of rebuilding after the Angora Fire. Frustration with jumping through hoops to start from scratch is taking its toll. He looks and feels tired.
“This is one case where everything was taken away in the course of an hour. Where we had no control over it,” the 68-year-old said. Until June 24, he thought he was set.
Mauriello had done all the math, had searched all over the South Shore for a home to retire to. He thought he was going to live the rest of his life in that modified A-frame. He has choice words for the person or people who started the illegal campfire near Seneca Pond that roared into the inferno that wiped out more than 250 homes and blackened about 3,100 acres.
”It’s an emotional roller coaster. One day I want to do this, the next day you are changing your mind,” Mauriello said in early October. “I’m hoping to sell the lot because of pure logic. Why should I pay top dollar and go through the aggravation of having a house built when I could have a nice house for less than it would cost to build a house?”

Multiple moving days

He has put an offer on a house in Christmas Valley. The catch is his lot must sell first.
Another lot on Mount Olympia had a price of $189,000; escrow is supposed to close this month. Mauriello said one sold on Pyramid for $154,000 and is back on the market for $250,000.
If he can’t buy this month, he’s still moving. The rental he’s in is too small. He wants a place big enough for a grand piano and one that will house friends who come up to ski.
“I have noting to move except a couple cases of wine, some donated clothes and a few things I bought at Costco,” Mauriello said. At most it will be two trips in his SUV. “There’s a wine rack someone gave me. I’ll leave it here. It looks good, it goes with the place.”
While he looks to buy, he looks to rent. It’s a lot of phone calls and a lot of driving around.

Insurance-money issues

Community Assisting Recovery Inc., better known as CARE, has been a great help to Mauriello and others affected by the summer catastrophe.
“I met with him (Sept. 5) to review my policy. I expected it to be a 10-minute meeting and it went on two hours,” Mauriello said of George Kehrer, who founded the nonprofit after the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire. “He said, ‘Go rent a piano. They have to duplicate your living.’ I’m not living the way I’m used to living. You think the disaster of the fire was bad, then you get sucked into the insurance world. It’s horrible.”
CARE sets up shop at Lake Tahoe Community College most Saturdays so survivors can receive disaster recovery help. The website is
“(Kehrer) is giving us lessons on depreciation of inventory,” said Mauriello, who has been to the college several times. “Just because they give you a price doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. It’s another bucket of worms.”
Reports are that 90 percent of the people were underinsured.
Mauriello is draining his savings because the first check for reimbursement for living expenses didn’t arrive in his post office box until Oct. 4. It included this month’s rent.
Before that he had received a check with his name on it and Wells Fargo. That’s because the bank had the mortgage. Mortgages must be paid while victims deal with insurance companies. These companies also want their lump sum before the person gets their share.
Mauriello wasn’t about to sign the whole thing over to Wells Fargo and wait days if not weeks for the bank to issue him a check. He told The Hartford to send two checks – one for the approximate remainder of the mortgage and the other for him.
“(Oct. 4) I called Wells Fargo. They hit me with about $500 in charges to pay the mortgage,” he said. “It wasn’t a prepayment penalty. I was so pissed when I spoke with him.”
The mortgage is paid. The rest is in a money market account waiting to buy his next home.

Giving back

Since the Angora relief center opened earlier this month in the old Mikasa building at the “Y”, Mauriello has been helping out a few hours a day. He calls himself a stock boy. It’s probably working out at the college gym about 85 minutes a day that makes him strong and qualified.
Volunteers are busy sorting through all the donations. A worker said as of now clothing is one thing they don’t need. Green trash bag after trash bag still needed to be inventoried in early October.
Warm clothing is being picked up for all ages.
Televisions, stereo systems, kitchen items – it’s all free to Angora survivors and only Angora survivors. People are screened to make sure they are who they say they are. Mauriello is good with this procedure.
“Until everyone gets their insurance settlements this is great people have something,” Mauriello said.
He has been putting a ton of books on the shelves – for kids and adults. Coloring books and toys are available. Most of the stuff is good quality, and what isn’t, he tries not to let out onto the floor.
New blankets and pillows are available.
“I wish it had been done a couple months ago while the momentum was there,” Mauriello said.
A sense of camaraderie has formed between Angora survivors. The community can sympathize, but only fellow survivors can empathize.
Mauriello talks about people breaking down in tears talking about their situations. He tells a story about a guy whose house burned down who had recently refinanced, which necessitated he up his insurance coverage. He says an employee at Wells Fargo thanked him for his thank you card to her congregation and tells Mauriello how the reverend read it out loud.
“We are all in it together,” Mauriello said. “I’m hurting, but believe me people are really hurting. It’s incredible how people are hurting still.”

Angora -- Fire commish meeting

Fire commission in South Lake, Tahoe City

The bi-state fire commission initiated by the governors of California and Nevada after the Angora Fire will meet Oct. 11-12.
The Thursday meetings will be the Wildland Fuels and Community Fire Safety committees, while the Friday session is the entire commission.
On Oct. 11 the Community Fire Safety Committee convenes at the Granlibakken Conference Center in Tahoe City from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The morning session of the Wildland Fuels Committee goes from 8:30-a.m. to 1 p.m., beginning at the U.S. Forest Service office in South Lake Tahoe. A tour of the Heavenly Valley Creek stream environmental zone project will take place.
The afternoon session is from 1-5 p.m. at the Granlibakken Conference Center. The 10-year fuel reduction plan and other issues are on the agenda.
The Oct. 12 meeting is at Granlibakken from 9 a.m. to 5p.m. The wildland urban interface – or where the forest meets residents – will be discussed, as will fire protection issues between agencies.

Land owners want condos, not mobile homes

unedited oct. mt. news article:

By Kathryn Reed

Prime lakefront real estate in Stateline covered by more than 100 mobile homes is getting closer to being a condominium development.
The draft environmental impact statement for the 20 acres at the end of Kahle Drive is expected to be released this month. The public will have 60 days to comment on it, with the final document possibly going before the Governing Board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in early 2008. Construction could begin in May, with the first occupants unpacking in 2010.
It has been a long, bumpy road to get this far for the Incline Village-based Tahoe Beach Club. The property, which was the original South Shore airport, is in sensitive land and the mobile home residents have been upset since the current owners took over in 2001.
“There are a lot of reasons the park should not be developed and never should have been,” said Monroe Friedling, who has lived at what is now known as Tahoe Shores since 1979. “It’s a stream environmental zone. The soil is unstable.”
He’s angry with the owners because of rent hikes as well as the requirement to pay sewer and water.
“One member never paid a dime and he became my hero,” said Friedling, who turns 80 this month. “As president (of the home owners association), about five months ago I stopped paying sewer and water and filed a small claims suit.”
He said the owners then took him to civil court. Friedling said he won the $3,000 small claims suit and the civil was “turned down with prejudice.”
The owners are appealing.
Attorney Lew Feldman is representing Tahoe Beach Club in its quest to develop the land, but did not handle the court cases with Friedling.
Feldman said the current tenants would have first dibs at the condos if they qualify. Nineteen residences will be deed restricted moderate income units and 124 will be sold at market rate.
Nevada law requires developers compensate the mobile home owners, help them find other housing and give them six-month’s notice to vacate the premises.
The entire project, which includes a common recreation area, will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design level silver – which means it’s a green building.
Wetlands will be restored. Feldman estimates 10,000 fewer pounds of sediment will reach the Lake each year once the project, which will be built in phases, is completed.
“We will produce an area of environmental benefits that will be an enhancement to the region,” Feldman said.
Friedling admits the area is not in great condition now, but puts a lot of the blame on the owners who want to kick him and his neighbors out and therefore have no interest in its upkeep.
“It’s in deplorable condition. We have a rickety old wood pier. We have a beach. That’s our only amenity,” Friedling said. A picnic table where owners and renters at the mobile home park can barbecue is also available.
Friedling talked about going before TRPA a few years ago to get the project stopped and isn’t afraid to do so again.

Congress messing with school funding

unedited oct. mt. news short

School funding bill in Congress’ hands

By Kathryn Reed

A flurry of visits by area officials to the Capitol could mean the difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars for local school districts.
James Parsons, superintendent of Alpine County Unified School District, spent the first week of October in Washington lobbying folks to pass the Secure Rural Schools bill and fund it for five years.
The legislation affects about 4,400 school districts in 40 states; with Lake Tahoe Unified and Douglas County among those. LTUSD received $214,783 for the 2006-07 school year, while DCSD got about the same.
However, the $425,000 allocation to Alpine County’s district accounts for more than 20 percent of its unrestricted funds in a total budget of $3 million.
“This really needs to be solved at the federal level. Or give back the federal lands to the local areas and let us manage it,” Parsons said as he was packing for his trip. “But that is not going to happen.”
At issue is a law from 1908. The federal government took forest land away from local jurisdictions, which meant tax dollars went with it. Congress agreed to give the areas 25 percent of the revenues generated off the lands from things like timber, grazing, mining, agriculture and recreation.
In the mid-1990s logging was curtailed – which was the bulk of where the money came from. A bill was passed in 1993 that dealt with spotted owl habitat that led to money for California, Oregon and Washington.
In 2000, Congress passed the Secure Rural Schools Act that expired in 2006. It restored the funding to all districts.
“In those six years Congress was supposed to come up with another way to mitigate the loss (from timber sales). Nothing was done,” Parsons said. “Suddenly we are out of money again.”
Politicians are working on getting an amendment attached to another bill so money would flow again to schools. Parsons said he’s heard a decision could come as early as this month or it may happen at the end of the year.
Douglas County Commissioner Nancy McDermid and County Manager Dan Holler were in Washington Sept. 18-21 working on garnering support for schools.
“We are trying to get a permanent solution instead of scrambling all the time,” McDermid said. “Western states are by and large owned by the federal government, so payment in lieu of taxes is a way to offset what you could be collecting if it were in private ownership.”
About 67 percent of Douglas County is owned by the feds.

Oct. wine event in El Dorado County

Wineries reach out to Nevadans

El Dorado County’s family-owned wineries will raise a special toast to their Silver State neighbors Oct. 26-28 to celebrate Nevada Day. Complimentary tastings and special promotions will take place all three days.
Specials will be going on for residents outside the Silver State as well. El Dorado’s tasting rooms are just an hour from South Lake.
For more information and a map to participating wineries, visit

LTCC president to retire

unedited oct. mt. news article:

By Kathryn Reed

Incoming email dings in the background. A forest of pines sways outside the large windows. Student artwork adorns the walls. Papers are scattered about a desk and conference table.
This is Guy Lease’s office, but it is not his world. Even though he says he spends too much time tucked back in the main building of Lake Tahoe Community College, others see him as a regular around campus.
Interacting with students is a large part of what he does. It doesn’t matter if he knows their name, he says hello. He smiles. Those who know him engage him in conversation.
“It’s rewarding to meet with students … to talk about what their aspirations and goals are,” Lease said. “Without community colleges, people might not realize their dreams.”
Lease stands out – not just because he’s one of the few guys on campus wearing a tie or that full head of gray-blond hair. At 63 he still looks like he could hold his own on a basketball court. After all, he went to Rice University on a full athletic scholarship.
His aggressiveness on the court when he played hoop for the local Rotary team warranted a one game suspension. But that was 20 years ago when he and Art Slavack tussled on court. Now they are good friends.
In June, Lease is calling it quits. He became president of LTCC in 1990 after starting at the college in 1982 as dean of business services.
“We came through the same doctoral program at USC. I knew exactly the kind of preparation he had,” said Jim Duke, the college’s first president, on why he hired Lease. “It wasn’t a major factor, but we both had some military experience and that gave us a bond. The most important thing in the relationship of a president with senior people is chemistry. From the time I interviewed him there was chemistry.”
Duke encouraged the Vietnam veteran to apply for the presidency. The college’s first president is still in town, but when he left the job he knew hanging around campus wouldn’t allow Lease to grow into his new role.
“I was very careful to stay out of the way and have a low profile. We didn’t even go to college plays for the first year,” Duke said. “Way back I played (golf) fairly even with him, but the last number of years when we play I can’t compete with him. That’s the only negative thing I can say about him.”
Board members don’t regret their decision to hire Lease.
“We were ready to move into more of developing the staff and curriculum phase and pulling the campus together,” said Roberta Mason, one of two original board members still serving, as to why Lease was hired. “He has expanded our horizons as far as programs go and services to the Hispanic community and vocational programs. He has led us into all kinds of new directions.”

Finding his way

As Lease took over the presidency 17 years ago, the college as we know it was in its infancy. The campus off Al Tahoe Boulevard opened in October 1988 after being in what is now the Value Inn Motel.
The state Legislature had just passed a bill that called for shared governance – which means employees have a say about what goes on. Faculty input is sought in curriculum, the Academic Senate has authority.
“He was under pressure to prove he was an advocate for faculty and he did that,” said drama instructor Dave Hamilton, who was hired the year before Lease became president.
Lease admits it was an adjustment to go from supervising people with master’s and doctorates to being responsible for the whole campus and to the community.
“I had to decide how I was going to spend my time. There were more decisions to make,” Lease told the Tahoe Mountain News in a lengthy interview. “I remember sitting down at my desk and thinking ‘now what?’”
About 10 years ago he thought about moving on. He could have made more money, been at a bigger college in a bigger town. The board upped his compensation package, which helped convince him to stay.
“I felt I could make a difference here. It’s not just about making a living,” Lease said.
Plus, in this size town he can meet with the superintendent of the K-12 districts, City Council members, the city manager and whoever else is in a decision-making role.
Lease has been instrumental at the state level in securing funding for the 10 or so rural colleges in the state community college network.
“We’ve brought in millions of dollars to this campus and community,” Lease said. “We’ve done all of this without tapping local taxpayers.”
The state ponied up money well beyond the normal per pupil allocation. Local voters have never passed a bond for the college, though Lease predicts they may be asked to in the future to contend with maintenance issues and additional facilities.
“He has gotten us money on many occasions as a small college that I’m sure we could not have gotten on our own,” Mason said. She talked about his proficiency at writing letters to lawmakers to make a stand for LTCC.
His leadership became apparent to many others when the Angora Fire erupted and the college was turned into the resource center for survivors. The Red Cross, Office of Emergency Services, Small Business Administration, insurance companies, sheriff’s department – they all set up shop at the college.
His speech to staff last month started out with what the institution did during those chaotic few days and the role it has today.
“There was so much activity here it’s hard to describe,” Lease told the group. “The community needed us and we were there. I’ve never been more thankful for our buildings and staff.”
Fire related meetings are still conducted at the college – including the bi-state fire commission the two governors created.
Lease’s loyalty to his employees is evident by the fact that despite this publication and much of the staff knowing he was going to announce his resignation at the annual convocation Sept. 13, he didn’t want them to read about it until they heard it from him.
“I came here for no more than two years. That was 25 years ago,” Lease told the staff that day. “I would not have stayed if it were not for the wonderful people.”
It’s hard to know if Lease was joking when he said because his executive assistant Pam Barrett is leaving after 27 years that he couldn’t do his job without her. He even announced her retirement before his own.
At his office the next week, Lease talked about life after LTCC – for himself and the school.
“I’ll probably miss the structure in my life,” he said. “I’ll have to figure out what I’m going to do instead of asking Pam what I’m going to do.”
He and his wife, Peggy, are staying in town. Their daughter and three grandsons live here.
Lease expects to stay involved in the community college system for a handful of years doing “executive administrative” work.
His wife of 35 years will probably have a thing or two to say about his schedule. She’s retiring from LTUSD in June. Travel is likely to be a big part of their lives. Their son lives in London and offers from former students to come visit keep rolling in.

Opening up the world

Travel isn’t just something the Leases do, it’s something LTCC students do.
Lease is credited with developing the international travel program at the school as well as in Rotary. He has been part of the local Rotary club since the 1980s.
“His commitment to youth is what impresses me. Not only through his job at the college, but his commitment to the youth exchange program with Rotary,” said Rotarian Mark Lucksinger.
Through Rotary 30 kids come to the area each year and 30 from here travel abroad.
The international education program is No. 2 on Lease’s list of achievements. It’s sandwiched between being instrumental in the construction of the college and relationships he’s built with people on campus.
Several hundred LTCC students have participated in a variety of travel-study opportunities. In the last 12 months, 20 went to London, about 13 were in France last spring and 20 spent the summer in Mexico.
“I’m interested in getting our students out into the world,” Lease said. “You can’t become fluent in (a language) until you live where that language is spoken.”
The college has set up two- and three-week language immersion programs in Spain, Mexico and France, with talk of Italy in the works.
“Dave Foster took a class to France in the spring and he said how it changed some of their lives,” board member Mason said. She praised Lease for bringing international education to South Lake.
Lease got the travel bug when he worked for the U.S. government in Germany from January 1970 to July 1976. He met his future wife there. They married in 1972.
Skiing was a big part of their lives – in Europe and Tahoe. She’s hung up her boards, but he still hits the slopes.
Lease was instrumental in the early years of Buddy Warner.
The next phase
The board will hire a consultant to find prospective candidates to be LTCC’s third president. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 22 of the 109 community colleges’ in California are in the same boat. It’s the baby boomers saying bye-bye.
Lease wouldn’t disclose what he’d warn his successor about, but he knows sharing the history of the school will be a top priority.
“I hope he has new ideas to get to whatever the next level is,” Lease said of the next president. “I think the community is very fortunate to have its own college. It’s an educational and cultural center.”
For most of the staff, Lease is the only president they’ve known.
“I think he did well for the college, but I think it’s time for the college to transition into the next phase or era. Guy presided over an incredible growth period,” instructor Hamilton said. “Love or like or not what he has done, he put his heart and soul into this college. It was more than a job.”
Hamilton admits not agreeing with everything the president has done, but knows Lease thought out his decisions before making them.
With the current tenure of a community college president being three years, LTCC could be in for more frequent leadership changes.
“We are looking for someone who is strongly supportive of community colleges as a whole and who has leadership abilities and courage to face difficult times,” Mason said.

LTUSD test scores

unedited oct. mt. news article:

LTUSD slipping in test scores

By Kathryn Reed

“We are under huge pressure because it’s going the wrong way.”
Superintendent Jim Tarwater is worried about standardized test scores at Bijou.
Bijou and South Tahoe Middle School are in year four of being program improvement schools. Lake Tahoe Unified School District schools are among 2,709 in the nation under the “restructuring” category.
Even though the middle school improved its test scores from 2006 to 2007 by 29 points, it wasn’t enough to satisfy the No Child Left Behind requirements. Bijou dropped by 24 points.
The district per the federal NCLB had the choice to: reopen the schools as a charter; replace all or most staff including the principals; contract with an outside entity to manage the schools; have the state take over the schools; or any other major restructuring. The latter was chosen for both schools.
At Bijou, grade level teams have been established. The middle school is structured by departments. Professional development is a key factor.
“What we’ve done to help the teachers is we’ve purchased online student reporting systems (OARS),” Tarwater said. “Teachers are creating more frequent assessments of students and then you say ‘what are you going to do about it?’”
Data is shared, students given extra help and sent to support classes. OARS will show what areas of instruction are or aren’t being grasped by the students and which students get it and which don’t.
This will achieve the goal of monitoring kids more often, seeing what intervention programs work and changing the ones that don’t. OARS is at every school. High school performance is checked every 4.5 weeks, at the other levels it’s every six weeks.
“The one good thing with No Child Left Behind is drilling down and looking at each child,” Tarwater said. “It’s looking at results of how they are taught. When you restructure, teachers are stakeholders in how kids perform.”
Parents In Education has been instituted at Bijou to provide outreach to adults. Literacy coaches are onboard.
After school programs are available for students needing help beyond the classroom.
With all-day kindergarten in its second year in LTUSD, this should help better prepare kids. Preppie K is also said to be working well.
At the middle school starting this month students get out at 12:55 p.m. instead of 1:55 p.m. on Wednesdays so teachers can collaborate about student achievement and talk about curriculum pacing.
Tarwater is on the leadership team at both troubled schools. He said he isn’t ready to make a change in who is principal at the respective schools, but he did say this year and next are critical.
“It’s not all the principal, but it is a big weight is on the principal,” the superintendent said.
He said part of the problem is past superintendents did not take the situation as seriously as they should have so corrective measures didn’t begin until he came on board. This is his third school year at the helm of the academically challenged district. Tarwater puts blame on administrators, not the school board for the current state of affairs.
To compound the woes in the district, Tahoe Valley and Sierra House elementary schools and South Tahoe High did not meet the goals of NCLB in the latest round of testing.
Each spring students are tested, with results coming near the start of the next school year. The federal government set up a system where schools must meet an adequate yearly progress. It lumps English learners, high achievers and special education students into one group. No special considerations are given.
Each year a larger percentage of the student population must be in the proficient category for a school to meet the federal mandate. Math, language arts, science and social science are on the standardized tests.
Tarwater admits socio-economics plays a role in testing achievement. For example, Sierra House is 65 percent Latino. Its numbers dropped by 9 points. Tahoe Valley increased by 3, the high school declined by 1.
The magnet school is the only site to hit the mark. It is predominately white, with a higher income level where both parents often don’t need to work.
State Superintendent of Schools Jack O’Connell said, “(California) has a challenging student population. We have an achievement gap.”
He said this why California lags behind other states on standardized test performance.
O’Connell was at MontBleu on Oct. 3 speaking at the 86th annual California Association of Highway Patrolmen’s Traffic Safety Conference.
He said challenges in the classroom are widespread across the state – throwing out statistics like students speak 100 languages, 41 percent of kids speak a language other than English at home, and that 25 percent of the K-12 population are English learners.
The makeup of students in California, according to O’Connell, is 48 percent Latino, 31 percent white, 8 percent black and 8 percent Asian.
A big fault many find with NCLB is that instead of monitoring the class of 2008 from elementary on up to see its improvement, the tests compare today’s third-graders to last year’s – so it’s not the same kids.
The OARS system the district implemented allows for that longitudinal type of monitoring – to see how a student and class develops over the years.
Congress is looking at changing how data is analyzed to make it more relevant, but Tarwater’s not betting it will pass.

LTUSD employees retiring

unedited oct. mt. news short:

Financial incentives to retire early from LTUSD

By Kathryn Reed

Out with the old and in with the new. That’s the theme throughout Lake Tahoe Unified School District.
Classified members had until Sept. 4 to let the district know if they would be taking a “golden handshake”, while certificated have until Jan. 15 to decide.
Thirteen classified staff will be gone by the end of the calendar year. They include bus drivers, custodians, instructional assistants, secretaries, cafeteria workers and others.
“We don’t how much we will save because we don’t know which jobs we’ll keep,” said Beth Delacour, human resources director.
Reconfiguring and redefining jobs is ongoing. Jobs will be posted at
Classified workers who took the offer are given two years toward their retirement. So, if they had 30 years of service, the district buys two for them so they retire with 32 years. It is costing the district less than $300,000.
The district expects to recoup the expense by either not filling positions or hiring people for less money. The idea is people on the high end of the pay scale are taking the buyout, while those hired will be at the low end.
Delacour is estimating between 10 and 15 teachers will opt for the early retirement. They are being offered $5,000 a year for five years. She said it helps bridge the medical insurance gap from 60 to 65, when people are eligible for Medicare.
This could mean Delacour will be out recruiting for teachers next spring – a change from sending out layoff notices for the past few years.

DCSD proposed bond

unedited oct. mt. news article:

Douglas County toying with improving school sites

By Kathryn Reed

Single pane windows at Lake schools could go by wayside if a proposed bond is approved by voters in Douglas County School District.
In September, the board gave the go-ahead for the district to form a committee of community members to look into the needs of school sites to determine what improvements should be made and then whether a bond is the way to pay for them.
District staff has composed a wish list that the committee is using as a starting point. The couple dozen people on the panel represent retired people, businesses, service groups, parents, government and religious organizations.
Each school will go before the committee to enlighten the group about specific needs.
“Obviously people involved with their site have more intimate knowledge,” explained Holly Luna, director of business services for the district. “They may know something that has never been brought to my attention or to maintenance.”
Even though Kingsbury Middle School is closing at the end of the school year, the district is still responsible for maintaining it. It needs a new roof.
Asphalt replacement at all Lake schools is part of the mix. At Whittell the asphalt has been patched throughout the years, but maintenance crews would like to replace the entire 111,000-square-foot area. Zephyr Cove needs 59,000-square-feet of asphalt work.
The boilers at both schools need replacing, as do the windows. At least double pane would go in.
Whittell was built in 1959, Zephyr Cove in 1962 and Kingsbury in 1975.
“We have older buildings. We have many, many challenges with the upkeep of these buildings,” Superintendent Carol Lark said of the whole district. “Many of the air conditioning and heating units are well beyond their day. We want children to have proper lighting and heating. We want kitchens up to code.”
What the dollar amount on the bond might be will be determined by what the committee deems as necessary projects and then having JNA Consulting Group figure out the financing.
The last bond voters approved was in 1992. Most of that went to expansion in the valley. It will be paid off in the next couple of years.
The committee will meet for the next few months, with a recommendation to the board expected in February. Town hall meetings would be conducted if the process goes forward. The board would create bond language before April because state law requires the proposal go to a Debt Management Commission that month. The school board would finalize bond language in May. The bond question must be sent to the Election Department by mid-July. The question would be before voters in November 2008.

Proposed improvements at Caples Lake

Improvements possible at Caples Lake

Caples Lake Resort wants to add parking spaces, a boat ramp, rest room and picnic tables.
The improvements include a new access road off Highway 88. The parking would accommodate 43 vehicles with trailers and 15 solo vehicles. The boat ramp would be 40-feet wide and 179-feet long.
The draft environmental impact report is out, with comments being accepted until Oct. 15. For more information, go to
The El Dorado Irrigation District board is expected to certify the document at its meeting Nov. 14 in Placerville.

Lake Tahoe jail upgraded

unedited oct. mt. news article:

Jail controls upgraded; juvis left town during fire

By Kathryn Reed

With an emergency cash infusion of more than $100,000 from the Board of Supervisors, the El Dorado County Jail in South Lake Tahoe has replaced its five control panels.
The project was completed in September. Staff worked with the vendor to design the layout of the system. One panel is in each of the housing units. They control cell doors, locks, pass through doors, lighting, televisions, telephones – pretty much everything.
While the crews were putting in the system they also re-did all the wiring so in the future new cameras and a recording system can be installed. Lt. Randy Peshon had requested that hardware in the current budget, but was denied.
He’s hoping the new system will save money on maintenance costs. Control panels have a lifespan of about seven years. The ones headed for the dump were from 1991.
It was a busy summer for Peshon. During the Angora Fire, as commander of the jail, he had the authority to decide if the 130 or so inmates would stay put or be transferred elsewhere.
“We would have moved them to another agency east of here,” Peshon said. Details of such evacuations are confidential.
Two plans were created by jail staff – one to shelter the inmates in place, the other to move them. But moving them isn’t that easy. It requires chaining them, not mixing different populations (just like when they are in the facility), finding someplace to take them and not adding more chaos to evacuees who might be alarmed to see a bus full of prisoners next to them.
Even though Peshon admits he was a bit nervous on that fateful Tuesday when the fire jumped Highway 89, he was confident his employees would handle the situation fine.
It turned out that the adult prison population never left town. However, the juvenile detention center was emptied of its 20 kids. They were taken to Placerville.

Food Column -- apple cake

unedited oct. mt. news article:

Apples aren’t just for pies

By Kathryn Reed

All apples are not the same – and I’m not just talking about the color differences. Pippin – those are the ones my ancestors say are the best for apple pies. Something about their tartness.
However, this summer I learned Granny Smith will more than do the job.
My ego prevents me from putting my blue first place ribbon from this year’s El Dorado County Fair Apple Pie Contest into a drawer, let alone the garbage. It’s on the bulletin board in my office. I have a picture of me, the pie and local Fair Board member Tom Davis that will end up in a photo album.
I called my mom from Placerville that June day. I had to thank her for teaching me how to make crust and the pie. She said how proud her grandmother would be – the woman I’m named after.
My family won’t allow me to share the recipe with you – or the crust. Sorry.
With it being harvest time on the West Slope, an apple recipe is necessary to take advantage of all that fresh fruit. Last year Sheri who owns Mary’s Drapery brought me a box of Pippins from Apple Hill. I was in baking heaven because I can never find Pippins in local grocery stores.
Her assistant Cyndi is an ardent fan of Granny Smith. She used to frequent Apple Hill on a regular basis when her kids were younger. She still has a slew of information about the area. She shared a recipe for a cake that is often for sale at one of the many orchards this time of year.
Apple Hill Growers has been in existence for more than 40 years. It includes apple growers as well as other ag interests like wine grapes, pears and Christmas trees. Now is when the apples are at their peak.
Most weekends something fun is going on down there. Shuttle service makes it easy to get around. For information, call (530) 644-7692 or go to
As for the cake, it was printed on the 1998-99 Apple Hill Growers Map. I made it as is, though my neighbor Celine and I would cut the sugar by at least a half cup. And it only took 45 minutes for mine to be done. It’s good right out of the oven and for breakfast – a la mode is the proverbial icing on the cake.

Apple Hill Cake

Combine: 2 cups sugar, ½ cup oil, 2 eggs
Add: 4 cups diced apples
Stir together: 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 2 tsp baking soda

Add dry ingredients to apple mixture. Pour into 9 x 13 greased cake pan. Bake for 1 hour in preheated 350-degree oven.

Leadership Lake Tahoe

unpublished oct. mt. news brief:

24 take stab at chamber’s leadership program

A revamped Leadership Lake Tahoe is under way – with this being the fifth class.
“Leadership Lake Tahoe is one of the many ways that the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce is working to build a stronger economy and to promote the community. It is our belief and intent that if candidates are drawn from diverse backgrounds and exposed to a variety of issues and develop skills and relationships along the way they are more likely to continue to make the South Shore home and become more involved in their community which is clearly a benefit to all,” chamber CEO “B” Gorman said.
The group of 24 will meet once a month for 10 months. Some of the topics include the economy, government, media, social services and law enforcement.
For more information, call (530) 544-5050, ext. 229 or (775) 588-1728 or go to

Fuel reduction projects in Tahoe

unedited oct. mt. news brief:

Forest becoming less crowded

Nearly 1,000 acres of Forest Service land on the Nevada side of the South Shore will be treated for fuels reduction in the coming months, while last month the agency began a three-week demonstration project to assess mechanically removing fuels in stream zones.
After a 30-day comment period with few people making any statements about the Nevada plan, Forest Supervisor Terri Marceron last month authorized 656 acres to be treated by hand and 296 by machine.
“The project includes ground based mechanical treatments wherever slope and road access allow and hand treatments where steep slopes and sensitive soils do not permit mechanical equipment or no road access exists,” according to a Forest Service statement. “Post thinning fuels reduction will include biomass removal, prescribed underburning, pile burning, chipping, and mastication.”
The areas to be treated are near Round Hill, Zephyr Cove, Kingsbury Grade, Chimney Rock, Skyland, Lakeridge and Logan Shoals.
The demonstration site is 23 acres of National Forest land near the intersection of Al Tahoe Boulevard and Pioneer Trail in the Heavenly Valley Creek area.
“The purpose is to demonstrate low impact mechanical treatments in sensitive soil areas; reduce hazardous fuels such as dead and down trees and fuel ladders like crowded small diameter tress and brush; and to improve forest health by re-establishing more natural vegetation structure,” according to a Forest Service statement.
In 2004 the area was chosen for a demonstration project utilizing low impact technology equipment. This is the same year TRPA amended its Code of Ordinances to allow for innovative techniques and vehicles within riparian areas for fuels management and forest restoration.
“This demonstration project has been in the planning stages long before the Angora Fire,” USFS spokesman Rex Norman said in a press release. “Our agency has been well aware of catastrophic wildfire risks associated with untreated SEZs (stream environmental zones), and this demo project is a step forward in addressing this risk.”