unedited Oct. 08 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
John Mauriello is about to move out of the Angora burn area – a place he thought would be home until his last breath.
He closes escrow Oct. 20 on a house in Christmas Valley. As of press time he was waiting to confirm numbers with his insurance company – The Hartford through AARP – to make sure they matched what he is expecting as the final payout.
His lot on Mount Olympia Circle is helping pay for the new home.
“It’s time for me to move,” Mauriello said. “I’ve got to get out of the burn area.”
The 69-year-old retiree has been renting in the burn area for the bulk of the time since the June 2007 wildland fire swept through his neighborhood and decimated his home and 253 others.
He had made an offer earlier in September on a different house, but the wobbly stock market shook the seller’s confidence and that person backed out.
After much consternation, Mauriello has been told he owes El Dorado County zero dollars when it comes to his tree removal bill. One more step in moving on.
Mauriello has been spotted at various events in the last month. On Sept. 19 he attended the art auction for Tahoe Lost and Found. Melissa Lanitis Gregory was the force behind this project to raise money to replace the $2,000 worth of books destroyed by the fire. It was Mauriello’s lost pizza recipe that inspired the project.
The auction raised $2,080. The “extra” $80 will help create a landmark in the burn area.
“There was some very good artwork,” Mauriello said. But he is not buying anymore substantial items until he is permanently settled.
He is still buying kitchen gadgets. Ask him about trying to find a stainless steel funnel or how time consuming it is to can tomatoes. That rant could fill the whole paper.
Mauriello also attended the Oct. 1 meeting hosted by the county to discuss taking Lake Tahoe Boulevard from four to two lanes. He and several others spoke out saying the road is just fine. Many ridiculed the idea, especially when no study has been done on the number of cyclists using the road or how many might use a trail or lane if it were built.
Contentious only begins to describe the atmosphere at Lake Tahoe Airport that night. Nerves are still frayed from Angora. Anything that would thwart emergency vehicles from getting to the neighborhood will not go over well with residents.
“Why did they try to disguise it under an enhancement program?” Mauriello asked the next day. That’s what the information the county sent out called it. “If you want a bike lane, I have nothing against it. I’m a biker, but let them build another bike lane next to (the road).”
He has driven a bus for Heavenly and knows what the roads are like on a blustery winter day with tourists pouring out of town. He is fearful that shrinking the number of lanes will cause more head-on collisions, reduce the response time for emergency vehicles and create hazardous situations.
Even though Mauriello is likely to leave the neighborhood soon, his passion for what he believes is right has not waned. Just ask him about replanting Angora Ridge.