Monday, December 31, 2007

TRPA funds water-air quality projects


For Release Immediately
December 28, 2007


Lake Tahoe, Stateline, NV - Water and air quality improvement projects around the Tahoe Basin will receive a nearly $3 million boost thanks to mitigation fund releases authorized by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in 2007, the Agency said today.
More than $2.9 million in water quality and air quality
mitigation funds were earmarked for 15 Tahoe area environmental
improvement projects during the year, the Agency said.
Environmental mitigation funds are generated from fees paid by property owners to offset the impacts of their new development projects. The funds are then distributed to local jurisdictions by TRPA to help pay for larger-scale efforts to improve air and water quality.
Among projects slated to receive a portion of the $2.1 million in water quality funds and $821,000 in air quality funds authorized for release between May and November 2007 are planned road improvements to the U.S. Highway 50/State Route 89 South Y intersection in South Lake Tahoe and erosion control projects associated with the Angora Wildfire rehabilitation efforts in South Lake Tahoe.
"The property owners who help fund these projects through the
mitigation fees they pay are making an important contribution to Lake Tahoe," said TRPA Principal Planner Jeanne McNamara. "These funds are put to good use by the local jurisdictions to help in the overall effort to preserve and restore this special place."
The authorized funds are to be released to the local jurisdictions as each environmental improvement project moves forward according to conditions outlined by TRPA and agreed to by the local jurisdictions. The mitigation funds are often used to leverage even larger amounts of state and federal funds in order to carry out these important projects. The projects authorized to receive mitigation funds during 2007 are:

* Christmas Valley Erosion Control Project, El Dorado County; $100,000 in water quality mitigation funds authorized May 23.
* Echo View Erosion Control Project; El Dorado County; $50,000 in water quality mitigation funds authorized May 23.
* Rubicon Erosion Control Project, El Dorado County; $50,000 in water quality mitigation funds and $20,000 in stream environment zone restoration mitigation funds authorized May 23.
* Montgomery Estates Erosion Control Project, El Dorado County; $100,000 in water quality mitigation funds authorized May 23.
* Tahoe Pines Erosion Control Project, Placer County; $75,000 in previously released water quality mitigation funds authorized July 25.
* Beaver Street Erosion Control Project, Placer County; $62,000 in previously released water quality mitigation funds authorized July 25.
* Lake Tahoe Boulevard Basin Piping Project, City of South Lake Tahoe; $510,900 in water quality mitigation funds authorized September 26 as part of Angora Wildfire rehabilitation effort.
* Gardner Mountain Storm Drain Project, City of South Lake
Tahoe; $308,600 in water quality mitigation funds authorized September 26 as part of Angora Wildfire rehabilitation effort.
* Sediment removal project, City of South Lake Tahoe;
$27,329.08 in water quality mitigation funds authorized September 26 as part of Angora Wildfire rehabilitation effort.
* Kings Beach Water Quality Project, Placer County; $450,000 in water quality mitigation funds authorized September 26.
* Tahoe Pines Erosion Control Project, Placer County; $150,000 in water quality mitigation funds authorized September 26.
* Alternative fueling station/storage facilities project,
Placer County; $393,240 in air quality mitigation fees authorized September 26.
* Equipment purchase/maintenance, Placer County; $180,000 in water quality mitigation fees authorized September 26.
* Bijou Area Water Quality Project, City of South Lake Tahoe; $6,000 in water quality mitigation fund interest authorized October 24.
* South Y intersection transportation improvements at U.S. Hwy 50 and State Route 89, City of South Lake Tahoe; $428,000 in air quality mitigation funds authorized November 28.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency cooperatively leads the effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region now and in the future. For additional information, call Dennis Oliver, 775-589-5235.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Gay-lebian ski adventure in Tahoe

Winter has officially arrived in Lake Tahoe just in time to ring in the New Year with the second annual Blue Gay-La: The Winter Party at Lake Tahoe. Here in the Blue World, you can enjoy some of the best skiing and riding in North America by day and by night, head to Blue Avenue, where you can leave your inhibitions at the door and revel in the energy of Lake Tahoe's 24-hour gaming and nightlife.

The upcoming Blue Gay-La includes plenty of reasons to "Get Down Tonight" with the following explosive entertainment line-up:
KC and the Sunshine Band at Harrah's - Friday, Jan. 25
British ska band The English Beat at MontBleu - Friday, Jan. 25
Comedians ANT and Paula Poundstone at MontBleu - Saturday, Jan. 26
Energy 92.7 After Party at BLU featuring DJ Chris Cox - Saturday, Jan. 26
Improv at Harveys featuring Jason Stuart and Chipper Lowell- Nightly
Visit the Blue Gay-La website to purchase your party pass today, which includes discount tickets to all of the hottest shows and exclusive parties.
This year's Blue Gay-La is packed with events to keep you entertained both on and off the slopes. Whether you are into happy hours or all-night dance parties, we offer something for everyone. Highlights include the Chocolate and Martini Party at Opal Ultra Lounge Thursday night, Blue World Pub Crawl Friday and the GLOW After Party at BLU Saturday. Warning: There is no last call in Nevada. Those who enter the clubs have been known to see the sun rise. To view a complete schedule of events, click here.
Because we know that at some point you have to sleep, we have an assortment of discounted lodging options now available. Properties range from plush casino resorts to elegant condos, charming cabins, lakefront hotels and cozy group retreats.
For all you powder hounds and ski bunnies, discounted lift tickets to Heavenly, Sierra-at-Tahoe and Kirkwood Mountain Resort are now available. Those of you with the need for speed will not want to miss our group snowmobile tour at Zephyr Cove Resort Friday, Jan. 25.

The notorious Queen of the Mountain Drag Races returns to Heavenly Mountain Resort, Saturday, Jan. 26 from 1 - 2 p.m. This raucous event challenges both men and women to ski or snowboard down a fun course while dressed in drag. Bring soundtracks, props and your sweetest moves for a chance to be crowned this year's Queen of the Mountain.
Hope to see you all at Blue Gay-La 2008!


Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority | 169 Highway 50/PO Box 5878 | Stateline, NV 89449

Personal trainer boasts about A Massage at Tahoe

Massage is the answer to what ails you

Rhonda Beckham
December 28, 2007 Tahoe Daily Tribune

I just had the best night's sleep I've had in years - 7.5 hours of uninterrupted bliss; my skin is smooth, and my muscles are quiet. I have a sense of peace, feel lighter on my feet and clearer in my head.

A massage with a caring professional therapist is priceless. If you've never experienced the delight of getting the tension in your neck, jaw or shoulders relieved, it's time. If you've just had an exhilarating day on the slopes, it's time. Your body will thank you tomorrow.

Here are a few of the most popular types of massage:


This is the most common type of massage therapy in the United States. Massage therapists use long, smooth strokes, kneading and circular movements on superficial layers of muscle using massage lotion or oil. Swedish massage usually is very gentle and relaxing. If you've never had a massage before, this is a good one to try first.


Aromatherapy is massage therapy with the addition of one or more scented plant oils called essential oils to address specific needs. The massage therapist can select oils that are relaxing, energizing, stress-reducing, balancing or have some other benefit. One of the most common essential oils used in aromatherapy massage is lavender. Aromatherapy massage is particularly suited to stress-related conditions or conditions with an emotional component.

Hot stone

One of my favorites. Heated, smooth stones are placed on certain points on the body to warm and loosen tight muscles and balance energy centers in the body. The massage therapist may also hold stones and apply gentle pressure with them. The warmth is comforting. Hot-stone massage is good for people who have muscle tension but prefer lighter massage.

Deep tissue

It's that good hurt, like after a good workout. Deep-tissue massage targets the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. The massage therapist uses slower strokes or friction techniques across the grain of the muscle. Deep-tissue massage is used for chronically tight or painful muscles, repetitive strain, postural problems or recovery from injury.


Shiatsu is a form of Japanese bodywork that uses localized finger pressure in a rhythmic sequence on acupuncture meridians. Each point is held for two to eight seconds to improve the flow of energy and help the body regain balance.


Also called prenatal massage, pregnancy massage is becoming increasingly popular with expectant mothers. Massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage know the proper way to position and support the woman's body during the massage and how to modify techniques. Pregnancy massage is used to reduce stress, decrease swelling, relieve aches and pains, and reduce anxiety and depression. Make sure you go to someone who is trained in this technique, because there are pressure points that must be avoided in prenatal massage so that labor is not induced.


Ah, the ecstasy. Although reflexology sometimes is called foot massage, it is more than simple foot massage. Reflexology involves applying pressure to points on the foot that correspond to organs and systems in the body. Reflexology is relaxing, especially for people who stand on their feet all day or just have tired, achy feet.


Sports massage is specifically designed for people who are involved in physical activity. But you don't have to be a professional athlete to have one. It's also used by people who are active and work out often. The focus is on preventing and treating injury and enhancing athletic performance. A combination of techniques is used. The strokes generally are faster than Swedish massage. Facilitated stretching is a common technique. It helps to loosen muscles and increase flexibility. This is good before or after an athletic event.

When I first moved to this resort town, I was amazed by how many massage therapists live here. I used to joke that there are two therapists for each tourist. The trick is to know who to go to.

The independents in town all charge about the same, while the casino-hotels are pricier. Some therapists will even come to you. Find one who specializes in your specific needs. I go to Kae at A Massage at Tahoe because she is really, really good at deep-tissue and sports massage. My body takes a beating in weightlifting, Pilates and kickboxing. A good weekly massage is a not only a treat, but also a requirement for my occupation.

You go to doctors, dentists and hairstylists for routine maintenance. Consider finding a good local massage therapist for routine maintenance of the body, mind and soul.

If you want to learn how to do massage, longtime local therapist Rosemary Manning teaches a class at Lake Tahoe Community College that begins Jan. 10. Through Barton University, she will be teaching a three-session infant-massage class starting Jan. 7.

Get a massage or learn how to give one:

A Massage at Tahoe:, (530) 318-4806

Barton University:

Lake Tahoe Community College:

-- Rhonda Beckham is a nationally certified personal trainer with teaching certificates in Pilates and kickboxing.

Help Me Rhonda

Rhonda Beckham is owner of Help Me Rhonda and Perfect Pilates, a Pilates instructor at Lake Tahoe Community College and Sierra Athletic Club, as well as a personal trainer operating out of Sierra Athletic Club and the Tahoe Keys Marina Fitness Studio. She may be reached at (530) 208-6369, and

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dec. 21 travel alert

Highway 50 near Wrights Lake Road was closed in both directions earlier today because of a collision. Call Caltrans or go to the website to get up-to-date details.

Gov. Gibbons meeting with Interior secretary

For Immediate Release: December 12, 2007


Carson City— Tomorrow, Governor Jim Gibbons will meet with U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to discuss the federal government’s role in assisting Nevada with post-fire land rehabilitation efforts and the U.S. District Court’s recent decision to reverse a 2004 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to not list the Sage Grouse as threatened or endangered. Secretary Kempthorne will be in Nevada to attend the annual Colorado River Water Users Association Conference.

Recently, Governor Gibbons signed a memorandum of understanding with Idaho , Utah , and Wyoming to outline and formulate a cooperative plan to ensure the continued coordinated support efforts for wildland fire fuels management and rehabilitation efforts between all four states. Each year, western states lose millions of acres of native vegetation to catastrophic wildfires.

“We are hopeful that our federal partners will join us in our mutual efforts to rehabilitate and reclaim lands affected by this year’s devastating wildfires. Failure to do so will result in an increased presence of invasive species such as cheat grass, red brome, and other annual grasses and exotic vegetation,” said Governor Gibbons.

Governor Gibbons and Secretary Kempthorne will also discuss the U.S. District Court’s order reversing a 2004 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to not list the Sage Grouse as threatened or endangered. This recent order will severely impact Nevada ’s, and many other western states’, agricultural industries and their future livelihood.

“The significant federal ownership of land in many parts of Nevada already reduces the tax revenues upon which counties and local governments depend, and I am deeply concerned that this decision will exacerbate the negative impact by reducing the viability of local agricultural production upon which these counties depend,” Governor Gibbons concluded.

Woodwork is her creative outlet

unedited 12-07 Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

Creativity is everywhere. From the aroma wafting from the kitchen to the walls adorned with her mother’s handmade quilts to the dust from the various saws in the garage to the paints and woodwork in her studio.
Roberta Saling’s house is all about crafts.
It all started because she casually mentioned to her husband, Jack Wildberger, she would like to try her hand at wood. He bought her a scroll saw.
Since that gift of 16 or so years ago, Saling has accumulated an array of devices that have helped her evolve into the artist she is today.
“The drill press is probably the best thing (my husband) ever bought me because I can’t drill a straight hole for anything,” Saling said.
A box of snowman arms is near the sander. Scraps of wood and the dust associated with cutting intricate, small ornaments are left behind.
Pine and Baltic birch plywood are what she uses most. The latter doesn’t warp like pine.
Upstairs is where she likes it best – painting is her favorite part of the process.
“I’m into shading, not flat painting,” Saling said. “Some things I just do to see if I can do them, like more intricate painting.”
Just after the Holiday Faire at Valhalla she was working on items for a woman who lost everything in the Angora Fire. The survivor was able to pick up a manger and some other things that weekend, but asked Saling if she’d work on a few other replacements.
“She has bought things from me since 1994 … to the point that she said ‘I no longer have space’,” Saling said of the Angora survivor. Now the owner of Birdworks is helping her customer acquire woodwork for her home that she’ll move into in May.
Trees, bears and snowmen are Saling’s favorite themes. Holiday items top the list this time of year, but she has an array of goods, like welcome signs, that are appropriate everyday of the year.
Most of the pieces she cuts herself, though she’ll buy some designs and paint the raw wood.
She is self-taught. Though the quality and detail looks like she could teach a class or two, she is quick to say she could learn a lot if she ever took a course.
Just before the holiday faire, Saling was spending up to eight hours a day working on her craft. Work begins in September to make sure she has enough goods to sell at the annual event.
Several years ago she rented space in the Bijou Center where her woodwork was on display for sale. The shop closed. If a similar opportunity presents itself, she would do it. Saling admits the creative part comes easy for her. It’s the selling that is not her forte.
Saling may be reached at (530) 544-6883.

Trees felled in Tahoe without permit

unedited 12-07 Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

Tahoe Verde Mobile Home Park is a bit thinner than officials had wanted it to be.
In other words, the park behind Raley’s at the Y had a TRPA permit to cut 380 trees. When the sawdust settled last month, an additional 31 stumps were found.
“In this instance there was a permit, some work was done and something went wrong. It looks more like an accident,” said Dennis Oliver, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency spokesman. “We still haven’t gotten to the bottom of it. We are talking to the mobile home park. We are still piecing it together.”
A spokesperson for the mobile home park was not available for comment as of press time. Nor was anyone from Bushwhackers, the South Shore tree service which did the work.
TRPA tags all trees with a distinct blue paint so people know which to cut. It is unclear how unmarked trees could have been eliminated. Until the investigation is complete, the TRPA does not know what type of punitive action may be taken or against which entity.
Oliver said the trees that were erroneously felled came in various sizes and species.
“They were doing regular tree maintenance and thinning on their property. It’s a large property with many trees,” Oliver said. “It wasn’t a defensible space project.”

Boat engines on Tahoe to burn cleaner

unedited 12-07 Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

Because 15 percent of the vessels in California have 25 percent of the engines that generate about 50 percent of the emissions, the state Air Resources Board is mandating these boats – including ones that chug along Lake Tahoe – be more efficient by 2015.
Lake Tahoe Cruises, which runs the Tahoe Queen, MS Dixie II and Tahoe Paradise, could end up paying $1.5million to retrofit the three boats, according to Port Capt. Chris Gallop.
“The maritime industry is going to take a huge hit,” Gallop said of last month’s decision. “In my opinion it’s not bad to get cleaner burning engines, but it’s extremely cost prohibitive.”
He said he’ll be working on a grant from the California Clean Air Act to help pay for the changes.
In the past year, Aramark, which owns the three South Shore boats, spent a quarter million dollars to upgrade the propulsion system that drives the paddle-wheel on the Queen. In December 1996, the three yellow Caterpillar turbo charged, fuel injected diesel engines were replaced. At the time, they were the cleanest burning engines on the market.
Gallop doesn’t foresee Aramark pulling the plug on its Tahoe operation because of the impending requirements. He added that it’s much less expensive to deal with new engines than buying a new boat.
“It would be a shame if we couldn’t retrofit them,” Gallop said while surveying the engines located below one of the boat’s bars.
To get the engines to their operating location, a hole had to be cut in the deck above them. They were assembled on location.
Every five years or 17,000 hours the engines are rebuilt. The same goes for the five engines that propel the Dixie. The Paradise has three engines – though they are much smaller than the paddle-wheelers’.
The goal of the Air Resources Board, which is a division of the state Environmental Protection Agency, is to reduce diesel soot and nitrogen oxides by 40 to 50 percent by 2015 and by 60 to 70 percent in 2025 when compared to 2004 levels.
“While harbor craft play a vital role at our ports and along our coast, they also contribute significantly to air emissions most responsible for premature death, respiratory illnesses, and increased risk of heart disease. With today's vote, ARB is now regulating yet another diesel source that has fouled California's air for years,” ARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols said in a Nov.15 press release.
The state has 4,200 harbor craft – which includes ferries, excursion boats, tug and tow boats. The new regs don’t affect recreational or ocean-going watercraft.
Even though the Dixie is based in Nevada, Gallop said his company would make sure all its boats operating on California waters abide by that state’s rules. It is not known if it would legally have to.
Gallop will be going to a Passenger Vessel Association meeting in February, which he said should shed more light on the specifics of what the state’s rules will mean to Tahoe and where funding may come from for the engines.

Water district seeks federal dollars

unedited 12-07 Tahoe Mt. News story

By Kathryn Reed

With devastating fires making the headlines across the country, the South Shore’s largest water-sewer district is hoping Congress will get the message that federal dollars are needed to upgrade aging infrastructure.
South Tahoe Public Utility District is hopeful in the new year that lawmakers will consider its request for $1 million to replace undersized water lines for fire protection. The appropriations bill has made it through the House and is stuck in the Senate.
Since the Angora Fire ripped through the area last summer, the district, with the help of El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago, has compiled a comprehensive needs package that will be taken to folks in Washington in the first quarter of 2008.
The district’s engineering department just came out with a report that says 185,000 lineal feet need to be replaced in the next 10-15 years. Today it costs $300 a foot. The whole project would come to $55.5 million if contracted out in 2007 dollars.
“We are trying to show them the enormity of the problem,” said Dennis Cocking, STPUD spokesman. “Wildfires don’t care about 10-year capital improvement plans.”
Each year since 1994 the district has replaced a minimum of 5,000 lineal feet of line with at least a 6-inch line. About 20,000 feet is the most that could be replaced in one year because of the short building season.
South Tahoe PUD has been working on upgrading lines in older neighborhoods and where the forest abuts homes. Sierra Tract, Gardner Mountain, Al Tahoe, Bijou and parts of the Stateline area need larger lines. Gardner Mountain had a lot of work done in the last year.
“In the last few years we have concentrated on Al Tahoe. The new well at the end of San Francisco produced more water than we had hoped for,” Cocking said.
He added that because the burn area had 6- and 8-inch lines as well as fire hydrants the outcomes was better than it could have been.
Damaged fire hydrants have been replaced up there. A bottleneck, as Cocking described it, in the area has been straightened out as well. Years ago when the lines were put in the plan was for some of the roads around Boulder Mountain to connect with one another. Because that never came to fruition, the water lines were a little haphazard for today’s reality.

Weather gurus prediect a white witner in Tahoe

unedited 12-07 Tahoe Mt. News

Weather experts predict white winter

By Kathryn Reed

Accurately predicting snowfall takes science and luck.
Forecasters get paid big bucks to study weather patterns, look at the past and come up with the future. Folks at the Farmers’ Almanac have been doing it for years. Punxsutawney Phil does it each February when he looks for his shadow.
We’ve turned to the National Weather Service in Reno to tell us how much white stuff to expect this winter. Officially, the Winter Solstice is Dec. 22.
The Reno weather gurus often use Tahoe City to make estimates for the entire basin. Elevation makes a difference in exact accumulation.
“Looking back at snowfall data since the early ’60s between November and April, it would appear that we can expect a significant amount more than last winter,” said Shane Snyder, NWS meteorologist.
Most remember last year’s unspectacular winter. Between November 2006 and April 2007 120 inches fell.
“In a comparison of five other cases back to the early ’60s that are similar to the expected large scale pattern this winter, Tahoe City received between 210-250 inches of snowfall. The overall average snowfall for Tahoe City since 1917 in any given year is 189 inches,” Snyder said.
In other words, the National Weather Service is calling for between 110-130 percent of average snowfall this year.
The winter of 1994-95 had 334 inches in Tahoe City.
“I wouldn't expect that, but it certainly would be excellent for the ski areas,” Snyder said.

South Tahoe's general plan

unedited 12-07 Tahoe Mt.News

By Kathryn Reed

Government by the people seems to be non-existent in South Lake Tahoe if the attendance at last month’s general plan meeting is used as the barometer.
The 1999 document is being updated over the course of the next two years. About a dozen people showed up at the Nov. 15 meeting to give input. The next meeting is slated for February.
As unsexy as the words “general plan” sound, it along with the budget are the most important city documents that affect the local citizenry.
The state mandates the plan include: land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, noise and safety. The city is broadening the document to include: land use and community design, economic development, housing, transportation and circulation, public/quasi-public facilities and services, natural and cultural resources, recreation, health and safety, and administration and implementation.
Those at the meeting answered questions pertaining to most of the above issues and then were able to pose a question that the consultants would take back to the drawing board.
Mintier & Associates out of Sacramento are the consultants hired by the city to assemble the general plan. More information is available at

Green squeaks by Bannar for LTUSD seat

By Kathryn Reed

Barbara Bannar’s last act as president of the Lake Tahoe Unified School District was to preside of the Dec. 4 special board meeting.
A week later, incumbent Sue Novasel and newcomers Mike Doyle and Larry Green were sworn in as board members. Novasel, who has been the clerk, is expected to the take the reigns of the board and Angela Swanson is likely to become clerk.
(And this is what happened.)
In the final results, Green edged incumbent Bannar by three votes. He garnered 1,786 or 18.44 percent to Bannar’s 1,783 or 18.41 percent.
Registrar of Voters Bill Schultz took it upon himself to have LTUSD’s Nov. 6 votes recounted because of the narrow margin.
“I just felt before I could certify the election this time we had to (have a hand count),” Schultz said. “We did it because it was so close.”
That count came out the same as when the final 431 absentee ballots, 33 mailed ballots and 68 provisional ballots were tallied – which is different from what the Election Night totals were.
“I’m not a politician so I didn’t know how the system works. When I got the call I was happily surprised,” Green said of his third place finish that landed him a seat. “I am going to work hard at this, to do my research and listen to the community to make the best decisions to help our children.”
Instead of going to the annual California School Boards Association conference last month in San Diego, Bannar was off to Carmel. She hopes more traveling is in her future. Beyond that, she isn’t sure where she’ll turn her attention to locally.
“I’m definitely going to take a minimum of six month off to do family stuff,” Bannar said. “My children were the ones who finally said don’t ask for a recount. It really sounded like they did their job at the county. (My kids) said they were done and were ready to move on. They have been through a lot. I had to take that to heart.”
She had kind words for and confidence in the men joining the five-person board.

Accreditation team gives LTCC thumbs up

unedited 12-07 Tahoe Mt. News story

By Kathryn Reed

Unofficially, the college has made the improvements it needs to keep its accreditation. Officially, the written report from the team which visited South Lake last month won’t be out until January.
But based on the verbal rundown, Lake Tahoe Community College officials believe they’ve achieved their goals.
When a group from the Western Association of School and Colleges came to LTCC in March 2006 the mandate was to improve in nine areas. Six issues pertained to student learning outcome. The duo was inspecting that area the first week of November.
The other three items the college needed to rectify involved getting the budget reserves up (which has been done) and addressing two self-insurance related issues (mission accomplished).
“The faculty took incredible ownership of this initiative. The (accreditation) team was very laudatory of our efforts in just the short year and a half. We have done a tremendous amount of work,” said Lori Gaskin, vice president of Academic Affairs and Student Services.
English instructor Kurt Green has led the charge. Through the Academic Senate two committees were created to beef up the way the college assesses how much a student has learned.
“They asked us to re-evaluate our courses and have outcomes for what we expect our students to be able to do when they finish that course,” Green said. “The other area we are supposed to assess is if we are reaching these outcomes and goals. We are beginning the assessment phase this year.”
Green updated the board of education on Nov. 13 about what is going on with complying with WASC standards before dashing off to teach Introduction to Literature.
The college is in the second of a three-year plan to make sure all classes have the necessary student learning outcome component. Last year 137 courses were targeted, this year about 350 will be and next year the remaining 550 courses will be folded in.
“A lot of this is already incorporated into what we do as teachers. Now they are looking for documentation of it,” Green said. “It’s a different data gathering mechanism that they are asking us to come up with. We are developing our own plan and goals.”
He said some faculty members have seen it as more work, but most recognize it as a valuable tool to their craft.
For more information, go to, click on Faculty-Staff, then click on Student Learning Outcomes.

Gymnast aims for Olympics

unedited from 12-07 Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

At 48 pounds and 48 inches in height, Savannah Kooyman doesn’t look threatening.
Get the 9-year-old into a gymnastics arena and all bets are off. She is as strong as some of the 16-year-old boys she works alongside at Gymnastics Nevada in Reno. In her family room her biceps and back muscles look ripped as she easily goes from a sitting position into a handstand and back and forth without her feet ever touching the ground.
“She is so into the strength part of it. She says she likes to feel the burn,” said her mom, Susie.
“She is one of the strongest 9-year-old girls I have seen. Her upper body strength is amazing. And she is so flexible,” her coach Andrew Pileggi said.
Savannah admits she has to ice her muscles on a regular basis. Her diet isn’t restricted, though her mom says she gets extra protein.
The South Lake Tahoe native has her eye on the 2012 London Olympics. She is focused on this dream that requires her to spend four hours a day, five days a week training.
“It’s really fun. You get to try new skills and stuff,” Savannah said. Her braided blonde pigtails flop around while she stands on her hands. She says it takes more strength to stand on your hands than it does to walk around.
Two of her newest feats are a back flip on the balance beam and keeping her body erect as she goes from a handstand on the top uneven bar and spins all the way around.
It all started when her mom signed them up for a Mommy and Me class when Savannah was 16 months old. She took a break and at age 4 started the path that has led her to national recognition.
She was one of nearly 100 9-year-olds to go to Texas in October to compete in the Talent Opportunity Program put on by USA Gymnastics at Bela Karolyi’s. Karolyi coached Nadia Komenich and Mary Lou Retton to Olympic gold.
A cold hampered her quest to make the TOPS National Team, but she is ranked in the top 40 in the nation for girls her age.
Her coaches, Pileggi and Lena Dimitriev, are gearing up for next year’s TOP event. Pileggi has competed on the United States’ national team and Dimitriev for her native Russia so they know what it takes to be an elite gymnast.
After winning the state title in Las Vegas last month at level 5, Savannah will start the season that begins in January at level 6. Before the elite level, gymnasts ascend through 10 levels of rigor.
“She is like a pre-elite gymnast. Most girls peak at 14 to 20 years of age,” Pileggi said. “She is on that path to compete on a higher level of gymnastics.”
Beam and bars are Savannah’s favorite events, but to excel at the top echelon it’s necessary for a gymnast to be well versed in floor and vault as well.
To keep up with such a rigorous workout schedule, Savannah started home schooling last year through Lake Tahoe Unified’s Independent Learning Academy. She’s only been competing for a little more than a year and already has a slew of awards to show for it.
Other South Lake kids go to the gym in Reno, which Susie Kooyman says is the only way it works for her family. Car pooling is a savior. The other gymnasts are Jo and John Herrera, Griffin Carter, Matt Vane and Casey Tera.
Savannah is doing her part to help defray the cost of traveling to Reno and regional competitions -- which is also helping the environment. She and her dad, Steve, recycle cans, glass and plastic bottles. Area golf courses contributed their empties during the summer and the Rockwater and Rendezvous restaurants still save their recyclables for her. If you want them to pick up your recycling, call (530) 573.8912.
To see Savannah compete, attend the Feb. 15-17 Lake Tahoe Classic at South Tahoe High School.

Court decision affects National Forests

unedited from 12-07 Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

How the U.S. Forest Service manages its land in the future will change drastically because of a Dec. 5 federal appellate court ruling.
The Sierra Club and Sierra Forest Legacy challenged the policy allowing up to 1,000 acres to be logged without environmental review. The original intent was for the Forest Service to thin acreage. The reality, according to the plaintiffs, is the feds desecrated large swaths of land by logging, not thinning.
A side effect to the three-judge decision to overturn part of President George Bush’s Healthy Forests Initiative is the National Environmental Policy Act must be used when it comes to thinning National Forest land around the wildland urban interface.
It is too soon to know how the Forest Service will rid land of hazardous fuels. The local office deferred calls to its Washington headquarters. No one returned calls as of press time. The Forest Service could appeal the decision or ask for a review of the entire 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The local Forest Service office has said thinning projects in the Angora Fire burn area helped the nearly 3,100-acre blaze not be worse than it was.
Craig Thomas, executive director with the Sierra Forest Legacy, does not anticipate the ruling impacting the Lake Tahoe Basin. He said the South Shore project that will treat 12,000 acres is already undergoing a more rigorous environmental review.
As for the controlled burn issue, he said that will be examined after the first of the year when the litigating parties return to U.S. District Court to discuss remedies.
“I’m still reviewing what the decision might mean. I doubt prescribed burning, especially in projects around Tahoe, will be prohibited,” said Michael Donahoe, conservation co-chair of the Tahoe Area Sierra Club. “The Forest Service has been good about doing the proper environmental review up here any way. I don’t think this will slow fire prevention practices in the basin or anywhere in West.”
El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago is thrilled with the decision.
“It has been a long standing problem these burn piles in terms of (their) effectiveness and the risk of air quality as a result of these burn piles. There is the issue of them just sitting there year after year before they are actually burned,” Santiago said.
She is concerned the bureaucratic nature of the Forest Service could delay the thinning process even more. She is hopeful biomass facilities and other alternatives to controlled burns will now come to the forefront.
“The court decision could potentially make a big difference in our overall fuels reduction planning for Lake Tahoe. Prescribed burnings are one of several tools available that the Forest Service relies heavily upon. We will certainly want to see what sort of implication this will have long term,” said Julie Regan, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency spokeswoman.
In the 2007 fiscal year, the Forest Service spent $100 million on firefighting than was budgeted. Agency Chief Gail Kimbell was before House Committee on Global Warming this fall saying she expects to take about $300 million from the recreation and other departments to supplement the next firefighting budget.
The death and destruction from this year’s California fires point to the need to thin National Forests. Even though a bi-state commission has been impaneled to address the local fuel reduction needs and will meet Dec. 13-14 on the South Shore, no one from the offices of Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jim Gibbons spoke to the Tahoe Mountain News.

Tahoe Rim Trail changes

unedited 12-07 from Tahoe Mt.News

Forest Service looking to alter Tahoe Rim Trail

The U.S. Forest Service wants to hear from you about a plan to reroute sections of the Tahoe Rim Trail around Daggett Summit away from paved roads.
The Daggett Summit Project will relocate the existing Daggett area TRT from paved streets to forested land, and connect the TRT to Van Sickle State Park. This estimated 13-mile project will be completed through a combination of new trail construction, adoption and improvement of existing authorized trails and redesign and rebuild of multiple short sections of user-created trails.
The Forest Service will host a public open house on Dec. 11 from 6-8 p.m. at their office at 35 College Drive in South Lake Tahoe. A formal comment period will be conducted in the future.
Send your comments to Garrett Villanueva, Interdisciplinary Team Leader, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, 35 College Drive, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150 by Jan. 11.
More information on the Daggett Summit project, including maps, is available at

Drug court starts in South Lake

unedited from Dec.07 Tahoe Mt. News

Special court for adult drug convicts

Judge Jerry Lasarow started the Adult Felony Drug Court in South Lake Tahoe last month.
It’s geared toward people, especially pregnant women and parenting adults, who are struggling with substance abuse and who have committed nonviolent felony crimes.
Participants receive outpatient and residential substance abuse treatment if indicated and submit to frequent drug testing. They must also come to court a minimum of once every two weeks to have their progress reviewed by Lasarow.
Clients may also participate in mental health counseling, parent education, employment coaching, job placement and/or anger management classes.
To successfully graduate, individuals must remain clean and sober, and complete the objectives in their treatment plans and terms of probation. For most individuals, the program will take a year to 18 months.
The program is a collaborative effort between El Dorado County, including the Public Health Department, Superior Court, District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender, Sierra Recovery Center, and the Probation Department, and is funded by a grant from the State Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs.
For more information, call (530) 621-7571.

Caples Lake project seeks input

Unedited from Dec. 07 Tahoe Mt. News

Caples Lake project stalled

Because so many comments were received regarding the draft environmental impact report for the proposed Caples Lake boat launch and access road project, it is going to be re-issued to include the new material.
El Dorado Irrigation District operates the lake on Highway 88 in Alpine County on the way to Kirkwood from South Lake. The irrigation district wants to build a parking lot, two-lane boat ramp, restrooms, picnic tables, ancillary facilities and a well on the northeast shore of Caples Lake.
Officials had hoped to have a public hearing and certify the final EIR last month. It is not known when the revised draft will be re-circulated for another 45-day comment period.
“We believe that we have received significant new information that we were previously unable to include,” said EID spokeswoman Deanne Kloepfer. “And we received new information in relation to comments on the draft EIR.”
Specifics about the comments were not available.
For more information, contact W. Chris Work with El Dorado Irrigation District, at (530) 642-4021.

Angora -- Survivor keeps hanging in there

unedited Dec. 07 Tahoe Mt.News story

Editor's note: This is a monthly article following one of the hundreds of people who lost their homes in the Angora Fire in summer 2007.

By Kathryn Reed

The "for sale" sign is gone. Fingers are sore. Trips to doctors are ongoing. Checks arrive unexpectedly. Another year older. Kitchen is essentially duplicated. Holiday decorations don't seem that important.
That's a snapshot of the last month of John Mauriello's life.
Mauriello is content to hold on to his Mount Olympia Circle lot until spring before he decides whether to build or sell.
"Mathematically, where the real estate market is I can buy an existing house for cheaper than rebuilding a smaller house," he said in early December. "People who are building up there don't know what it's like to live up there. There's no wildlife."
He admits the views are better. But without trees, the birds, squirrels, chipmunks and other critters aren't scurrying about like they did before the illegal campfire erupted into an out of control blaze that destroyed more than 250 homes on June 24.
Mauriello noticed the absence of wildlife almost immediately upon moving into a rental in the burn area last month. It's one of the more ominous things about being there. Coyotes -- that's all he's seen.
He worries about seeing a prefabricated house being assembled, questions if it conforms to regulations up here and wonders what it might do to property values. Then he wonders aloud if this type of house is OK, then why is the county building department making it so difficult to build from scratch?

Life goes on
On Thanksgiving weekend, the retiree turned 69. It was a low key event.
For the holiday, he had a few friends over to eat a bird and all the trimmings.
A week before Thanksgiving, this insensitive reporter asked if he'd be making any family recipes.
"They were destroyed," Mauriello said to silence on the other end of the phone. "We'll see how good my memory is. If I screw up, I have an excuse."
The best part of that weekend was Saturday when his grand piano arrived.
"When you get to my age and you stop playing for a couple months, your fingers get pretty stiff," Mauriello said two days after the Yamaha arrived.
His insurance company reimbursed him for the large expense in a matter of days. He had to show proof of purchase for the first grand. The company where he had bought it from was able to provide documentation.
Sheet music is still something he needs to acquire. Jazz and classical are what he enjoys playing the most.
For the most part his kitchen is stocked with items he had before the fire -- at least the things that could be replaced.
"Yesterday I went and bought more stuff. I still haven't scratched the surface. I bought things like throws for the furniture for the cats. Stuff I had at the other place," Mauriello said Nov. 12. "I spent the whole day buying towels, bathroom rugs. Usually things that take years to accumulate you are buying all at once. It's a pain in the ass."
Typical of so many in Tahoe, Mauriello lives in tennis shoes and hiking boots. On Dec. 3, he was out shopping. He didn’t get any shoes, but knows the flip flops are going to have to be put away for a few months.
"When you have the opportunity of starting over again, you are a little more selective of what you buy. You don't just buy something that is junk," Mauriello said.
He has a snow shovel. Replacing the snow blower will happen when there is something to blow.
He began Dec. 4 at 10 a.m. figuring out his inventory -- something that has been a burden since everything he owned was reduced to ash. Mauriello's insurance company arranged for him to meet with a third party firm to finalize his list of goods that was lost.
“He’s going to have to come back in a couple weeks,” Mauriello said that night because there is more work to be done.

Health issues
Mauriello is scheduled to have an echocardiogram later this month. He takes his health seriously in that he is getting all the tests doctors recommend and doing what they say. But he is rather nonchalant when talking about it.
"I had a couple stress attacks. It's been going on for the past 25 years," he said in mid-November. "When I used to run marathons they used to give me prescribed nitroglycerin pills."
He's been cleared to go back to the gym at Lake Tahoe Community College. He is losing weight and knows shedding a few more pounds will be better for his heart.

Good and bad
Two unexpected checks arrived in November. One was for $100 from the Rotary Club. The other was for $2,000 from the Angora Fund that spawned out of the South Shore Chamber's initial fund-raising efforts.
"This came as a surprise. What is does is keeps you going until you get your paperwork (from the insurance company)," Mauriello said.
Nearly every month since the fire, Mauriello has attended a neighborhood gathering of survivors. It's open to anyone who lost a home -- owner or renter. It's at a rental home in town that easily accommodates a few dozen people.
"For me, it's more social because it seems everything that is talked about doesn't get done," Mauriello said privately at the November party. "I don't need politeness. I need someone who will say 'I'll take care of it. ' "
One of his biggest gripes with the whole cleanup was about removing the blackened trees on his lot per El Dorado County's mandate. When the county changed the policy to say tree removal would be part of the overall debris excavation project, Mauriello and others were told their insurance companies would not be reimbursed.
At the end of the insurance settlement, it means that much less for landscaping for property owners. In Mauriello's case, that amount is $3,400.
At that November get-together, county Supervisor Norma Santiago surprised everyone by telling them there is a way for compensation for tree removal. In Mauriello’s case he was billed $24,000 by the county for debris removal. His insurance policy covers $20,000. Santiago said in so many words for Mauriello to have his insurance company reimburse the county for $16,600 so then the trees are not a hit to his landscaping fund. The county will pick up the remainder through it’s arrangement with the state.
“I was pleasantly surprised the responsibility of the tree removal will be the responsibility of the county,” Mauriello said days after the meeting. “This is all verbal. I don’t have anything in writing.”
Mauriello knows of one survivor who is on his third insurance adjuster.
"They deliberately do that to slow the process down," Mauriello said.
While most of the time Mauriello is full of compliments and praise for the community, he was left with a bitter taste from Grocery Outlet last month. The owners refused to accept his check because his address is not printed on it.
He knows he will be moving again. He just doesn't know when the next move will or where to. He's tried of changing his checks. He's not going back to Grocery Outlet.
"She wouldn't even look it. She said she does the books and checks like this bounce," Mauriello said of the owner. "I wrote her a letter after the episode and I didn't get the courtesy of a response. I explained why my checks don't have an address."
Grocery Outlet owner Kim Schouten plans to respond to Mauriello’s letter. She said the check writing policy is posted at each checkout stand.
“We can’t do something for one person that we don’t do for all,” Schouten said. However, she went on to say, “He is more than welcome to come back and talk to me and we can set something up with him.”

North Tahoe golf courses recognized

Associated Press - December 20, 2007 5:24 PM ET

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Two golf courses in the Lake Tahoe area are being honored by Golf Digest and a national group of golf course superintendents for their environmental practices.

Old Greenwood Golf Course in Truckee was named the top resort course nationally in terms of commitment to environmental stewardship as part of the Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards selected by the magazine and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.

The Golf Club at Gray's Crossing, located just across U.S. Interstate 80 from Old Greenwood, was picked as the winner of the private course award for the association's Sierra Nevada chapter. TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas won for top private course in the southern Nevada chapter.

The overall winner nationally was The Marvel Golf Club in Benton, Ky., which will be featured in an upcoming issue of Golf Digest.

The superintendents of the courses will be formally recognized at the Golf Industry Show in Orlando at the end of January, including Old Greenwood's Jonathan Moulton, Gray's Crossing's Michael Cornette and TPC Summerlin's Dale Hahn.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Big dump in Tahoe

The snow gods have heard the chants and responded to the dancing just in time for the holidays and as kids start to get out of school and parents haul them to the slopes.

Around 11pm last night the hot tub was a miserable experience with a mix of rain-snow pelting bare skin.

By 8am today about 6 inches were cleared from the driveway and back deck ... and we're right at lake level in South Lake Tahoe. Another two have fallen since then. The sky is going from gray to blue now ... ah, it's Tahoe at its best.

Higher elevations got even more of the white stuff. This bodes well for the resorts to open up more terrain, if not the whole mountain.

Remember A Massage at Tahoe when you are done shoveling, schussing or just need to relax while you are in South Lake!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bi-state fire commish wants input

At its meeting on December 15, 2007, the California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission voted to invite anyone to propose "Findings and Recommendations" for consideration to be included in the Commission's final report, which will be submitted to the Governors of California and Nevada by March 21, 2008.

To submit your proposed Findings and Recommendations, go to Commission's "Document" weblink below and:

1. Download the "Process for Developing Findings and Recommendations."

2. Use the template on p. 2 of the Word document to draft your proposed Finding(s) and Recommendation(s).

3. To allow the Commission adequate time to consider your proposal, please submit your completed document electronically to Commission staff as soon as possible (email address appears in Step 2 of "Process").

4. Anything submitted later than February 15, 2008, may not be considered due to time constraints.

If you have any questions, please contact Dana Cole, Commission Staff Liaison, at (916)708-5059.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

City manager weighs in on court decision

December 10, 2007


Contact: David Jinkens

City Manager & Director of Emergency Services


(530)542-4054 fax


Our recent experience with the Angora Fire and the fires in Southern California demonstrate clearly the threat to the environment and the threat to life and property that we face from catastrophic fire. Catastrophic fire in the Tahoe Basin will destroy the hard work and effort of all of us to improve water quality, air quality, create habitat, build a strong and diverse economy, and protect the lives and property of people who live and recreate here.

Catastrophic fire will not wait ten years as proposed in the USFS Fuel Reduction Plan. I understand that the USFS already spends approximately 50% of the funding for fuels reduction either directly or indirectly on environmental studies prior to beginning work, or on monitoring of environmental impacts afterward. They do so because they are required to do so. This existing timeline dramatically reduces the amount of funds available to reduce the actual fire threat. These existing studies already add years to the time table for actual fuel reduction.

The recently reported U.S. District Court ruling against the USFS (attached) regarding the need for even more environmental studies to be done before fuel reduction can proceed creates a cloud on whether local officials and informed and responsible regulatory agency representatives in this Region will be able to effectively reduce dangerous fuel levels before the next major fire. Those of us who live in the real world understand that government at all levels must and will take the steps necessary to reduce fuels and hazards and create defensible space in the wild land-urban interface. We have no choice. The health and welfare of our environment and our communities depend on us. Catastrophic fire will not wait for more court-mandated studies over years to tell us how to reduce the threat. We already know.

As the members of the South Lake Tahoe City Council, TRPA Governing Board, Bi-State Fire Commission and fire safe council know, fuel reduction needs to be in the hands of fire prevention professionals and fire suppression and prevention agencies whose staff is trained and understand the danger and the solution to catastrophic fire. All of us must use the most effective and environmentally sensitive means to achieve our fire prevention goal, and we must not be deterred by those who argue for more studies before engaging in fuel reduction. Catastrophic fire will not wait for us, and we cannot ³fiddle while Rome burns.²


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dec. 10 SLT city manager notes

Electronic Version

December 10, 2007


“The government is us; we are the government you and I.”
Theodore Roosevelt 1902

“Human dignity, economic freedom, individual responsibility…these are the characteristics that distinguish democracy from all other forms devised by man.”
Dwight Eisenhower 1947

“Democracy, the practice of self-government, is a covenant among free men to respect the rights and liberties of their fellows.”
Franklin Roosevelt 1939


Our recent experience with the Angora Fire and the fires in Southern California demonstrate clearly the threat to the environment and the threat to life and property that we face from catastrophic fire. Catastrophic fire in the Tahoe Basin will destroy the hard work and effort of all of us to improve water quality, air quality, create habitat, build a strong and diverse economy, and protect the lives and property of people who live and recreate here.

Catastrophic fire will not wait ten years as proposed in the USFS Fuel Reduction Plan. I understand that the USFS already spends approximately 50% of the funding for fuels reduction either directly or indirectly on environmental studies prior to beginning work, or on monitoring of environmental impacts afterward. They do so because they are required to do so. This existing timeline dramatically reduces the amount of funds available to reduce the actual fire threat. These existing studies already add years to the time table for actual fuel reduction.

The recently reported U.S. District Court ruling against the USFS regarding the need for even more environmental studies to be done before fuel reduction can proceed creates a cloud on whether local officials and informed and responsible regulatory agency representatives in this Region will be able to effectively reduce dangerous fuel levels before the next major fire. Those of us who live in the real world understand that government at all levels must and will take the steps necessary to reduce fuels and hazards and create defensible space in the wild land-urban interface. We have no choice. The health and welfare of our environment and our communities depend on us. Catastrophic fire will not wait for more court-mandated studies over years to tell us how to reduce the threat. We already know.

As the members of the South Lake Tahoe City Council, TRPA Governing Board, Bi-State Fire Commission and fire safe council know, fuel reduction needs to be in the hands of fire prevention professionals and fire suppression and prevention agencies whose staff is trained and understand the danger and the solution to catastrophic fire. All of us must use the most effective and environmentally sensitive means to achieve our fire prevention goal, and we must not be deterred by those who argue for more studies before engaging in fuel reduction. Catastrophic fire will not wait for us, and we cannot “fiddle while Rome burns.”

SHOULD A NEW REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT AREA BE CREATED? – What should or should not be done?


In September 2006 the City Council directed staff to begin the process of examining whether creating a new redevelopment project area (No.2) would be possible and benefit the community. The City Council defined a Survey Area (study area), on September 11, 2007, approving a Revised Redevelopment Survey Area Resolution and recommendations will then be brought back regarding whether to create a new project area. The study is underway and public meetings will be held for comment and input before any redevelopment plan is presented for action by the City Council. The first of several public meetings is being scheduled for late in January of 2008 with more meetings in the Spring of 2008.

The use of redevelopment a new project area will be quite different than the existing redevelopment activities near Stateline. The issues and concerns on this side of town are quite different than the ones discussed in the late 1980’s when the first redevelopment project area was created and proposed projects were already identified. The redevelopment financing tools must be used to achieve top-priority community objectives that are consistent with the adopted community plan (and City General Plan) and the need to focus on redevelopment to serve the resident community. Redevelopment is envisioned to be primarily a financing tool for Project Area #2 if the City Council elects to approve a redevelopment plan next year.

The City Council already is focusing attention on achieving the following objectives in a new project area, if one is created:

A. Finance storm drainage, erosion control and water quality improvements including, where eligible, BMP’s needed on public and private property or the equivalent of same.
B. Finance re-construction and major repair to public streets including the installation of lighting needed and desired in existing neighborhoods.
C. Finance domestic water system improvements and/or acquisition, if feasible and desirable, to meet fire flow requirements under State law and water quality and reliability and minimize the impact of water system improvement costs to rate payers in the area. Collaborate with other public water agencies and the private company to the extent this is feasible and prudent to examine options for system upgrade.
D. Provide low-interest home improvement loans and grants to eligible residents of the new project area for homes in need of repair to meet health and safety issues.
E. Focus on strengthening and preserving residential and business neighborhoods.
F. Assist in developing high quality and attractive affordable housing units to assist existing residents living in substandard housing in the proposed project area.
G. Install and construct other public improvements to eliminate blight, create environmental enhancements, and improve the local economy of the area
H. Create opportunities for better pedestrian and bicycle use in the project area and linkage with other existing bicycle and pedestrian facilities in the community.
I. Assist in financing public open space and recreational facilities in the project area that are cost effective and can be maintained once built.
J. Assist with projects that eliminate blight and improve the economy of the area, improvement of business opportunities for existing businesses and new business opportunities in the area consistent with an approved TVCP.
K. Ensure that the use of all RDA funds in the area are consistent with approved community plans and the City’s General Plan
L. Eliminate blight

Is RDA Eminent Domain Needed to Achieve Plan Objectives?

Redevelopment financing tools must be tailored to the conditions that exist in a defined project area. Throughout California there is not one model that fits all. Successful redevelopment agencies with broad public support adapt redevelopment to meet existing conditions, concerns and needs and build a consensus with the community on desired goals and objectives.

The City Council has already publicly committed not to retain the power of the Agency to use eminent domain to acquire any residential properties in any new project area. Different conditions existed at Stateline than exist at the Y Area under study. Lessons were learned from the Stateline experience, and previous and existing City leaders viewed eminent domain as a necessary tool to achieve stated policy objectives, Clearly, even in the Stateline Area, conditions changed dramatically over the years from the extensive use of eminent domain for the first Heavenly Village Project to the minimal use of it for the Convention Center/Hotel Project. Redevelopment, financing also has changed from risk taking by the public agency to risk taking by the private sector.

In my view eminent domain in a new redevelopment project area in and around the Y is not needed as well to acquire other non-residential properties for transfer to other private properties for economic development purposes. If redevelopment tools are going to be successful in the Y area then it will take a new level of cooperation and coordination between City government and private property owners. Eminent domain does not need to be part of a new plan and should not be. Redevelopment in a new project area can then truly be viewed not as “an invading army” but rather as a positive tool to assist in the economic and aesthetic renaissance of the area to help land owners and existing business owners in ways that they cannot finance or accomplish themselves.

The use of eminent domain by the RDA is not needed for any new redevelopment activity in a new project area, and the City Council will be asked to specifically eliminate this power of eminent domain in any new redevelopment plan that comes forward.

City Manager

Dec. 3 SLT city manager's notes

Electronic Version

December 3, 2007


“Some people make things happen.
Some people watch things happen.
Some people wonder when it happened.” Zinerva White

“Change is inevitable, in our work lives as well as our personal lives. Most of us deal with far more change than we give ourselves credit for.” Zinerva White

STATE BUDGET UPDATE – A view from the League of California Cities - December 2, 2007

“Forecast of FY 2008-09 State Budget Looks Grim
The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) issued a dour FY 2008-09 state budget forecast earlier this week, warning that the state must prepare for a $9.8 billion budget deficit. The report follows a statement from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week, calling for state agency department heads to reduce spending plans by 10 percent.
The state budget is expected to carry over $2 billion in debt from FY 2007-08. That amount, combined with the projected $8 billion shortfall between spending and revenue, brings the deficit to nearly $10 billion. Confirming the budgetary news at a press conference on Wednesday, Nov. 14, Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill also cautioned that the shortfall is anticipated for a number of years into the future.
LAO identified several factors contributing to the state's budget problem, including the lower state revenue projections due to the economy's current outlook, lower property taxes and impact on K-14 education funding. Additional factors include an expected delay in the sale of EdFund and its value, the delay in new tribal compact implementation and a court ordered payment to the state's teacher retirement system.
The Governor will issue his proposed FY 2008-09 state budget on Jan. 10, 2008…”


Department of Public Works staff will be holding a public meeting on December 5, 2007 beginning at 6:30pm at the South Tahoe Ice Arena to discuss alternatives for addressing storm drainage and erosion control in the Bijou Area. The alternatives are not final plans. Staff will be looking for community comment on the alternatives, questions so that they can go back and develop a preferred alternative to be brought back later to the City Council and public for final review and action.

I told staff that it is important in emphasizing to all concerned parties that the three alternatives are just that…alternatives. Public works staff and our regional partners are examining options to improve drainage and erosion control in the Bijou Area and they want to have extensive public comment before making any final recommendations to the City Council for action. Staff is in an information- gathering stage now that is important to ascertain the best project, the most feasible project and the one that is most acceptable to the community. It is also important in my view to avoid where possible the acquisition of more privately-held land for project purposes and to use existing public lands for drainage improvements to the extent feasible and practical. Private owners of land who may be impacted by the final project alternative selection need to be actively consulted, listened to and fairly treated by local government.

Staff will also be requesting permission from the City Council on December 11, 2007 to get in line for possible grant funds to build the eventual preferred once it is identified. It is also important for staff to identify for each option the cost of maintenance for each alternative before making a final recommendation to the City Council after the initial public review and comment stage is over. City staff continues to see grant funds to be the primary source to pay for project construction. A Power Point presentation of the alternatives is available at the City’s website at:

The Project Manager is Sarah Hussong Johnson, PE who provides the following background information:

“Project Summary (Bijou Area Erosion Control Project Alternative Executive Summary)
The Bijou Area Erosion Control Project (ECP; Project) is a storm water quality improvement project for a developed area in the eastern portion of the City of South Lake Tahoe. The Project is a part of the TRPA’s Environmental Improvement Program (EIP) No. 172.

Project planning is being conducted pursuant to the Storm Water Quality Improvement Committee (SWQIC) process. In accordance with the SWQIC planning process, the Project Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), which is comprised of City staff, the City’s consultant (Entrix, Inc.), permitting, funding, and regulatory agencies within the Tahoe Basin, has developed three possible alternatives for the overall watershed conceptual plan. The proposed project alternatives seek to improve the existing water quality conditions, recreational uses, and Stream Environment Zone (SEZ) areas within the project area. Pursuing alternatives that benefit all three thresholds is consistent with the EIP and achieves a broad range of benefits.

Due to the sensitivity of the project alternatives, City Staff will be presenting the proposed project to the City Council to gain feedback and support of the project. The following is a brief summary of the major components of each alternative, which may be of interest to the City Council due to financial, liability, land acquisition, and long-term planning issues.

1. Project Alternative One proposes a storm water drainage transfer from an adjacent watershed into the Project area, to improve storm water quality and reduce flooding in the adjacent watershed. This opportunity was identified in a hydrology study prepared for the City by Lumos and Associates in 2005. This alternative utilizes the Bijou Meadow to treat and infiltrate the storm water from the adjacent watershed, which has very limited opportunity for treatment, but has potential drainage law liability and cost issues.
Project Alternative One also proposes to relocate three holes of the Bijou golf course (including clubhouse and parking) from the lower portion of the meadow (closest to Fairway) to upper meadow in order to allow for SEZ restoration and improved storm water quality treatment in the lower portion of the meadow. This proposal would benefit the City by relocating the club house and parking to City owned property (from its current private property leased location), but has funding constraints.

2. Project Alternative Two proposes to restore the northern portion of Bijou Creek channel from the outlet of the Bijou Meadow to Lake Tahoe, which is currently contained in a constructed channel, piping, and culvert system from the outlet of the meadow to the lake. Inspections of the existing drainage system show that the drainage facilities in this area are undersized and failing. Additionally, there is currently no opportunity for treatment of highly-impacted storm water runoff from the Highway and commercial corridor before it enters the lake. This alternative will provide for conveyance of flood flows and treatment of storm water from the commercial corridor.
This alternative requires extensive property acquisition along Fairway and in the commercial corridor. The City estimates that five properties would require full acquisition and two properties would require easements. The full acquisition properties include parcels currently occupied by Heidi’s, Ski Run Liquors, a residence owned by Melvin Springmeyer, a vacant parcel, and conservation easement parcel owned by the Lake Shore Lodge. Easements would be required from the Bijou Center (Longs) and a vacant parcel owned by Knox Johnson. This alternative is beneficial from a water quality, flood control, SEZ restoration, and scenic perspective and is in accordance with the Bijou-Al Tahoe Community Plan. However, due to major funding constraints the City has applied for California Department of Water Resources Flood Control grant funding to support this alternative. If this funding is not received, the City does not anticipate this as being a viable option.
Additionally, Alternative Two proposes to relocate the Bijou golf course, clubhouse, and parking to the Bijou Park facility in the upper meadow. This would allow for increased SEZ restoration and improved storm water quality treatment in the lower portion of the meadow, as well as co-located recreational facilities. This proposal would benefit the City by relocating the club house and parking to City owned property (from its current private property leased location), but has funding constraints.

3. Project Alternative Three has the fewest changes to the existing condition, with the exception of a proposed pumping system to treat highly-impacted storm water runoff from the highway and commercial corridor. This alternative proposed to reroute the existing storm drain pipes that currently run under the Bijou Center and Lakeshore Lodge properties north of the Highway. This alternative proposes to reroute the storm drain piping to the City owned right-of-way along Bal Bijou Road to the existing outfall location, and to collect and pump highly-impacted storm water from the commercial corridor to the upper portion of the Bijou Meadow for treatment. This alternative is beneficial in that it provides for treatment of the highly-impacted storm water from the highway and commercial corridor. However, it is controversial in that it combines private BMP responsibility with a City project and it requires high capital cost for construction and has long-term operations and maintenance funding issues.”


The Director of Public Works and I recently met with the District Director of Caltrans (and her staff), the Executive Officer of Lahontan (and his staff), County staff and the Executive Director of TRPA (and his staff) in Placerville to discuss the status of the Highway 50 Project. Out of that meeting questions were raised about the project. The District Director provided me with the following comments in response to questions and concerns raised. The reality is that at this time, the project in its entirety costs more than available dollars to Caltrans and TRPA. The District Director and her team remains and active partner in trying to find solutions to outstanding issues and concerns.

The District Director provided me with the following comments on November 30th:

“David, below are the answers to your questions. Tom Brannon has several meetings over the next few weeks with the agencies at Tahoe and is planning on going over all of this in detail. Please let me know if you have any further questions, or you can have John Greenhut contact Tom directly…

Splitting the projects for programming:

This week, we submitted our PCR to divide the "mother" project (EA 1A730, water quality improvements from Echo Summit to State Line) into four smaller projects:

1A731, Echo Summit to Myers, delivery in the 10/11 FY
1A732, Airport to Y, delivery in the 11/12 FY
1A733, Trout Creek to Ski Run (same limits as the STIP project),
delivery in the 9/10 FY
1A734, Ski Run to State Line, delivery in the 9/10 FY

As explained at our last meeting, we are moving the delivery years because there is insufficient funding capacity in the next two fiscal cycles to pay for all of the planned projects.

Budget discrepancies:

Our engineer's estimate for the STIP project from Trout Creek to Ski Run is higher than the programmed dollars. Nick Haven and I have discussed this. Nick had a larger figure for programmed dollars than we and we determined that this was because his figure included both construction support and construction capital dollars. Our shortfall is in the construction capital figure. I’m continuing to work with Nick to resolve this issue, but the fact is that we don't have sufficient funds to build the project at this time.

Water Quality Improvements:

We are working closely with our water quality consultant to complete the feasibility study of BMP's in the projects. We are communicating with Lahontan, and our commitment remains that as soon as we have a complete water quality strategy, we will meet with them. The current problem is that while we know where the water flows, there are locations that require the completion of the feasibility study before we know what treatment options are possible.

Elimination of the two way left turn lane from Ski Run to State Line:

We've completed an analysis of this idea. A full explanation will be presented at a future meeting, but there are such serious concerns with this idea that it will not be recommended:
maintenance snow removal operations would be adversely affected (snow
storage on the shoulder will block driveways; drainage systems will
be choked, causing flooding; snow removal will be much slower)
traffic operational issues (backups and congestion from left turns
out of the number 1 lane)
safety concerns (a rise in sideswipe and rear end accidents is
anticipated due to the increased congestion)”


The Director of Public Works and Director of Parks and Recreation will be coordinating their respective Department efforts in the very near term to have installed on Ski Run Boulevard before the first snow two new bus shelters. One is set to be installed on Ski Run near Highway 50 and the other will be placed near the Deerfield Lodge.

When private parties could not proceed with the installation of these shelters, the Public Works and Parks and Recreation Directors stepped up to do so. Good job, gentlemen!


On Monday of this week I will be meeting with the Executive Officer of the El Dorado County Local Agency Formation Commission to discuss the status of the City’s existing sphere of influence and service delivery issues. Other City staff will be present for the meeting and the County CAO and staff will be joining us by telephone.

According to State law, in addition to other powers and duties including the establishment of spheres of influence, LAFCO’s in California are responsible for the following:

“56301. Among the purposes of a commission are discouraging urban
sprawl, preserving open-space and prime agricultural lands,
efficiently providing government services, and encouraging the
orderly formation and development of local agencies based upon local
conditions and circumstances. One of the objects of the commission
is to make studies and to obtain and furnish information which will
contribute to the logical and reasonable development of local
agencies in each county and to shape the development of local
agencies so as to advantageously provide for the present and future
needs of each county and its communities…”

LAFCO’s have no jurisdiction over land use.


Airport staff has been approached by a company called Air Products that wants to locate a Hydrogen Refueling Station at the Lake Tahoe Airport.

Fred Mercado of the City Attorney’s Office provides the following explanation:

“Air Products, in conjunction with the forest service has approached us regarding installation of a mobile fueler system in the airport parking lot. Air Products, the company that owns and services the refueling trailers has a contract with the Department of Energy to site several of these around the country. One of the areas they want to use them is Lake Tahoe.

The Trailer will only be here during the summer months (removed during snow season). It will refuel the USFS vehicle and perhaps a couple more. (It will not be open to the public) It should not present an operational problem and would be good PR to support efforts to enhance the environment.

Fire Marshal Ray Zachau has reviewed the proposed site and plan and been involved in conference call discussions with Air Product Representative. The Trailer that houses the equipment is bulletproof with emergency bells, auto shut off and other safety features. ”

Staff will be examining the matter further to evaluate revenue opportunities, impact on existing airport and city hall operations, and aesthetic impacts. Staff will keep the City Council and Airport Commission updated.


For those of you who visit the airport, the Airport Director tells us that Aztec Transportation Bus Service will be using parking spaces in the upper airport parking lot throughout the winter season until the end of April. The parking spots they’ll be using are 22 spaces at the North end of the lot, in the vicinity of the fueling site. If there are any questions about the matter, please discuss them with the Airport Director Rick Jenkins. City government will be paid $440.00 a month for use of the space.

City Manager

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Rethinking a past blog entry

Last night I was threatened with a lawsuit if I didn't delete an item from the blog under November's Tahoe Tidbits. I have spent a number of hours thinking about the venom he spewed at me. I stand by what I wrote because it was factual. But in re-reading what I have since deleted, I realize I was being petty and vindictive. That's not who I want to be or how I want to act.

What I had written doesn't pass the muster of libel for which this person would have to prove. According to the Associated Press, "There is only one complete and unconditional defense to a civil action for libel: that the facts stated are provably true."

Because of what he did I can't recommend people advertise in his in-room guest magazine. That is how all of this started. After two years of advertising in his product, he offered exclusive rights to the person I had been sharing the ad with.

But that's it ... he does do a good job at his nighttime job ... which hopefully, he will keep up.

I have not used the person's name, like I did before, because it just doesn't matter. He knows who he is. That's good enough for me.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Appellate Court ruling affects controlled burns in Tahoe

Court stricter on fire control
Environmental OK needed to clear brush near urban areas.
By Denny Walsh -
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, December 6, 2007
Story appeared in MAIN NEWS section, Page A1

In a decision that affects all national forests, a federal appellate court ruled Wednesday that the U.S. Forest Service cannot cut brush and use controlled burns to reduce the risk of wildfires in and near urban areas unless it first performs a detailed assessment of the environmental impact.

The ruling, which reversed a 2005 decision by U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. of Sacramento, comes after a devastating fire season that included the destruction of more than 250 homes in the South Lake Tahoe area and a series of Southern California firestorms that displaced hundreds of thousands of residents.

Environmentalists hailed the ruling, saying it halts part of the Bush administration's "Healthy Forests" initiative and what they see as unchecked logging in national forests.

But even one of the federal judges who concurred with the ruling questioned whether the net result would be years of delay before real efforts can be made to protect residents near national forests from wildland fires.

The decision requires Burrell to issue an injunction against the Forest Service that will apply to all 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands halting much of the efforts to use controlled burns and brush clearing to prevent future wildfires.

Wednesday's ruling does not directly address issues that surfaced in the aftermath of the Angora fire in South Lake Tahoe, where property owners argue they are hampered by regional restrictions about what they can do to create "defensible space" around their homes.

But concerns in the Tahoe basin are similar to those in other fire-prone national forests that abut urban-style developments.

Forest-thinning projects were credited with reducing the intensity of the Angora fire, and local officials expect accelerated efforts for more such projects as a result. But wide criticism has shadowed other fire-prevention plans proposed under the Bush administration for the national forests within California.

The 30-page opinion Wednesday from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals specified the injunction be limited to fuel-reduction projects approved after the Sierra Club's lawsuit challenging the program was filed in October 2004.

The panel left it up to Burrell to decide which post-lawsuit projects to exempt from the injunction "because they are at or near completion."

The fuel-reduction plan, adopted by the Forest Service in 2003 to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires by restoring forest health, called for about 1.25 million acres to be annually cut and burned to create a buffer zone between developed areas and forestland.

Cutting and disposing of combustible vegetation could be used on parcels of 1,000 acres or less and controlled burns on parcels of 4,500 acres or less.

For these projects, the Forest Service established an exemption – called a categorical exclusion, or "Fuels CE" – from the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

The exclusion meant that an environmental impact statement normally prepared for "major ... actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment" did not have to be done.

It was the exclusion that galvanized the Sierra Club, which claims exempting the fuel-reduction program is invalid because the program fits the definition of an action that impacts the environment and must be accompanied by such an environmental impact report.

Wednesday's ruling said "the Forest Service's decision makers made a clear error of judgment."

"We're reviewing the opinion, and we've made no determination on our next step," said Andrew Ames, a U.S. Department of Justice spokesman.

The government's options are to seek review by an enlarged 9th Circuit panel or petition the U.S. Supreme Court for review.

The Sierra Club was pleased with the ruling.

"This victory is a blow to the Bush administration's cynical 'Healthy Forests' initiative," said Eric Huber, a senior Sierra Club attorney.

He added that it "will help ensure that vast swaths of our national forests are not logged without environmental reviews under the guise of forest management or fuel suppression."

Craig Thomas, executive director of Sierra Forest Legacy, a co-plaintiff in the suit, said that since the rule was adopted, California has seen "the gross abuse of discretion and ramp up of logging with limited environmental review that we feared."

But others questioned how much environmental study is needed for lands near urban areas.

John Pickett, Tahoe basin coordinator for the Nevada Fire Safe Council and a member of special fire commission appointed in the wake of the Angora fire in South Lake Tahoe, said environmental concerns on forestland adjacent to urban areas are limited because the forest has already been compromised by urbanization.

"If you're out in the backcountry, it should be to a higher standard," Pickett said. "If someone is out there doing bad forestry, nail them to the wall.

"But when you're in the wildland-urban interface, it does not require a NEPA process. You've already permitted the community. You've already made your bet."

The panel issuing the opinion comprised Circuit Judges David R. Thompson, Andrew J. Kleinfeld and Sidney R. Thomas.

The Forest Service was at fault in failing to consider how controversial its plan proved to be, the opinion says.

It says the "comments of several federal and state agencies submitted in response to the Fuel CE raised substantial questions as to whether the project would cause significant environmental harm and expressed serious concerns about the uncertain risk, size, nature, and effects of actions under the CE."

Climate change in the Sierra

From the Stockton Record:

By Alex Breitler
Record Staff Writer
December 06, 2007 6:00 AM
The Sierra Nevada gazed upon by your grandchildren may be a vastly different range than it is today.

When they swim in its high mountain lakes, they may no longer see the bottom. The fish that tug on their poles may be different than the ones you catch today.

Wildfires may threaten their homes more often. And their favorite ski runs may no longer exist.

Global warming will have many undesired effects in California, but it will hit hardest John Muir's "Range of Light," experts said Wednesday.

The Sierra's plants and animals, its lakes and streams, and some of the charms that draw humans from the Central Valley and beyond are threatened, scientists and advocates said.

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy, a three-year-old state agency charged with safeguarding the region, held a symposium in Gold Rush country highlighting the many ways climate change will attack - or in some cases is attacking - the Sierra.

"It is simply unprecedented," said Dan Cayan, a meteorologist with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego.

Global temperatures have jumped on average 1.1 degrees in recent decades, he said, and will increase another 2 to 10 degrees or more in coming decades, depending on how successful we are at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In the Sierra, the snowpack could shrink in half by the end of the century, Cayan said. Snow levels will climb on average 1,500 feet, and resorts may see lower-elevation ski runs turn to rock.

"You can see the changes coming," said Kathy Hubbard, deputy director of the California Ski Industry Association.

Already, runoff from winter snow is beginning up to three to four weeks earlier than normal, Cayan said. This is trouble for much of the state, which relies on the Sierra for 60 percent of its freshwater supply.

Water managers fear reservoirs will either be overwhelmed by massive amounts of rain that currently falls as snow and sits on hillsides until melting in the spring or will shrivel during extended droughts.

And there will be floods. In May 2005, the Yosemite Valley was swamped after a warm storm melted mountain snow. All it took was 1 inch of rain.

Expect more of the same, Cayan said.

Among other predicted changes:

» Global warming will force high-elevation species, such as tiny rodents and butterflies, to migrate uphill until they run out of room.

» Trees will sprout where they haven't grown before and die where they have grown in the past.

» More frequent wildfires of greater than 1,000 acres will threaten mountain and foothill communities, which will face longer summertime fire seasons, Cayan said.

» Ice on mountain lakes will melt earlier, producing algae blooms that cloud up the water and harm fish.

Lake Tahoe has heated by about one-half degree in the past 30 years, enough for warm-water invasive fish, such as bass, to flourish near the shorelines, threatening native species, said Sudeep Chandra, a water quality expert at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Organizers of Wednesday's event touted California as a leader in the search for solutions, including alternative energy projects and strict tailpipe emission standards.

The ski industry's Hubbard said some resorts are taking action. Kirkwood Ski Resort on Highway 88 east of Stockton has a new carpool program to encourage skiers to downshift on driving, she said.

But it's already too late to eliminate future warming altogether, Cayan said.

To a temperature increase of 2 to 4 degrees - enough to disrupt mountain ecosystems and cause water supply worries - we are already "committed," he said.

Reporter Alex Breitler can be reached at (209) 546-8295 or

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Time for a massage?

Shopping, skiing, sore muscles, shoveling, snow … stress, sugar, insanity.

Is that what this time of year means to you?

It should mean serenity, salt scrubs, soothing massages, surreal foot treatments, sensational facial massages, relaxing spa packages.

Make sure you put yourself on your shopping list … and make sure A Massage at Tahoe is your first stop for you and everyone else.

Call today (530.318.4806) to schedule an appointment or to buy a gift certificate. To find the perfect gift, go to

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