Saturday, February 28, 2009

TRPA cutbacks

1/09 Tahoe Mt. News unedited story:

Budget issues and lawsuits are forcing the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to rethink the way it conducts business.
Employees have been offered buyouts, with layoffs possible. The Stateline office will be closed Jan. 16, Feb. 13, March 20, April 10, May 22 and June 19 – and employees not paid those days. The Tahoe City office will be shuttered permanently as of Jan. 15.
The agency had canceled all North Shore meetings, but free office space was offered for 2009 so those can continue.
“The budget scenario we are operating under assumes the blue boating program and buoy permitting we are getting ready to start on will not happen,” said Dennis Oliver, TRPA spokesman. “We have to go with the worst case. The shorezone lawsuit by the League (to Save Lake Tahoe) and Sierra Club seeks full restraining order from implementing those programs that would benefit the Lake.”
It is anticipated the employees working on those programs will be redirected to other projects and will fill in the gaps left by people severing their ties with TRPA.

Puppy mill ordinance gains traction

1/09 unedited Tahoe Mt. News:

By Kathryn Reed

South Lake Tahoe is soon expected to have an ordinance on the books banning the sale of all cats and dogs through retail outlets.
City Attorney Cathy DiCamillo plans to bring back wording for the council to consider at its Jan. 27 meeting. In December the council reviewed options outlined by special counsel Larry Wiener who works for Richards-Watson-Gershon in Los Angeles.
Besides a total ban, the council could have opted to license the retail sale of puppies by pet stores or regulate the retail sale of puppy mill bred puppies. Private small dog breeder operations in the city would not be affected by the ordinance.
Councilman Hal Cole, who used to breed Malamutes, made the motion to ban all sales of dogs and cats, while Mayor Pro Tem Kathay Lovell, herself a dog breeder, seconded it. It passed unanimously.
City Manager Dave Jinkens said research is needed to find out how such an ordinance would affect Internet sales of animals within city limits.
Broc’s Puppies is the only store in the city selling puppies. A representative was at the Dec. 9 council meeting but had to leave before the item was heard. DiCamillo said if the council passes an ordinance to ban the sale of these animals, that Broc’s would be phased out of business.
As with all ordinances, it must have to readings where comment from the public is sought.

LTVA ready to change its ways

unedited 1/09 Tahoe Mt. News:

By Kathryn Reed

Lake Tahoe is about to be promoted in a whole new way. What exactly that will look like is yet to be determined.
Mering & Associates, the Sacramento firm that has been the ad agency for Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority since March 2003, is going away. The summer promotional campaign will be the last the agency does for the South Shore.
LTVA expects to hire a firm this spring. Reno and Bay Area companies have been submitting proposals. LTVA’s marketing committee will pick two or three to make detailed pitches to the board.
Mering introduced the original $2.5 million “Blue World” ad campaign that was met locally with mixed reviews.
The campaign revolutionized how the South Shore was marketed. It was suddenly about branding, using the Lake as the central theme. No longer was it strictly about losing money at casinos or schussing down ski slopes.
The destination visitor was the target audience. National magazines featured slick, glossy ads. Target marketing went by the wayside.

A little history

Things certainly have changed in the last six years. In a February 2003 Sacramento Business Journal article, David Mering said, “Our goal is to make Tahoe a little less dependent on Northern California [for tourism dollars] and more of a national and international destination market.”
Bill Chernock was head of LTVA at the time and was a leading figure in trying to make South Shore a destination resort. The previous fall the two Marriott properties had opened. Two years before that Heavenly’s gondola started up.
Some began referring to South Shore as a company town, with those interests reigning supreme and the locals left in the dust with no say about the future.
Vail Resorts owns Heavenly. Two other out of town entities each own two of the four big casinos.
Today, Vail’s stock, like most, is in the toilet.
The parent company of MontBleu and Horizon is in bankruptcy. The land owner, Park Cattle of Minden, is likely to take over the Horizon when the lease expires. This will allow for more flexibility as Park develops a hotel-condo project at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course which is behind the casino.
Harrah’s Entertainment, which owns Harrah’s and Harveys at Stateline, was acquired by affiliates of private-equity firms TPG Capital and Apollo Global Management in January 2008. The Tahoe Mountain News has been told the financial situation is scary at the Las Vegas-based company and its South Shore casinos are in trouble.
Just a handful of years ago, the South Shore was all about high-end tourists. A few weeks ago vacancy signs dominated the landscape during what’s supposed to be the two busiest weeks of the year.
No one sought input from locals about how they wanted their town promoted. It wasn’t long ago that marketing gurus said buy-in from locals wasn’t important. The Blue World campaign rolled on without explaining it to anyone outside an LTVA or chamber meeting.
Suddenly the bread and butter of Tahoe – the Bay Area and Sacramento regions – played second fiddle to people living in Dallas, Atlanta and Florida.
During the Patrick Kaler years at LTVA and Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority the message was convoluted with the casinos wanting to attract a young party crowd, others trying to promote the outdoors, and the whole country being the advertising target.
Carol Chaplin, who has been running the tourism agency since last summer, is one of the forces behind the change in ad firms. With a marketing background rooted in Lake Tahoe, she is firing-up LTVA’s marketing committee so it will be a critical component in what goes on here.

LTVA’s future

“You can’t have an effective marketing organization without community support and community outreach,” said John Wagnon, LTVA marketing committee chairman. “We can’t move forward until we have community support. We have to earn that. I think that will come as they see a consistent rollout of an effective marketing campaign. Our goal is to regain that confidence and put the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority right back in the front where it was years ago.”
He doesn’t want to repeat the Blue World fiasco, at least as defined by average locals. That group still doesn’t understand the Blue World, so it is hard to call it an effective ad campaign.
Blue World licensing agreements went nowhere. At one time Wells Fargo talked about issuing “blue dollars”. As the Blue World fades away we’re left with a sputtering bus system called BlueGo and a casino named MontBleu that is in financial turmoil.
Wagnon wants a community outreach plan in place by mid-year. He wants a forum for people to provide input and ask questions. He wants people who represent attractions, retail, restaurants and other components of the tourism industry to be part of LTVA’s planning process.
LTVA could also help its local image by creating a more diverse board of directors.
First, though, Wagnon’s priority is hiring an ad agency.
Wagnon envisions a consistent brand to market the area. He wants to identify the elements that make the South Shore unique and weave them into the brand platform.
“A lot of places struggle to figure out why they are unique. We need to put a stake in the ground and say this is who we are,” Wagnon said.
He doesn’t think it’s just one thing. It’s the outdoors, skiing, casinos, nightlife and the Lake.
Wagnon has resurrected the dormant public relations subcommittee, an arm of the marketing committee. Weidinger Public Relations will still write the press releases, but instead of working solely with the executive director of LTVA, the Stateline agency will have more people to bounce ideas off.
Something else different in the Chaplin era is that an 18-month strategic calendar is being developed. This will get people to look beyond the current season.
Promoting the shoulder seasons is a topic of discussion; with events at the top of the list.
The need for an ad campaign that allows for the message to be changed on short notice is likely to be a component in the next ad agency’s contract. This means instead of promoting skiing at Thanksgiving when the snow isn’t here, ads could go out boasting about great late fall hiking, cycling and hues of autumn still visible.
LTVA’s budget was adopted late last year with 20 percent or $250,000 less to spend than the previous year. Chaplin said with room taxes declining, the chunk of cash LTVA gets from the Tourism Improvement District and TDVA is expected to be much less.
To cut costs, LTVA opted for upgrades to its website instead of a complete redesign. Because the convention center is on hold indefinitely the group sales team at LTVA has been thinned. Special events may be cutback or axed. Money has been saved by changing insurance carriers.
The board voted that any “extra” money will be used on advertising.
The board is made up of two lodging people, two from gaming, one from retail, one representing attractions (Edgewood is the current rep), one from skiing and one at-large rep. The latter is an employee of Sierra-Northstar ski resorts.

Tahoe’s summer campaign

Mering was supposed to unveil its full summer campaign at a Jan. 5 meeting. That meeting has been rescheduled to Jan. 30 At the LTVA board meeting in December a loose concept of Mering’s summer ideas was presented.
“The plan they presented was a blend of TV, print and online advertising in the drive market and closer-in destination market,” Wagnon said. “We haven’t seen any creative concepts.”
The summer campaign will be launched in late May or early June and go through August, including a Labor Day push.
People are booking rooms two weeks out, so the message needs to hit in that time frame. Plus, the drive-up market gets a dose of “retail” advertising instead of just “image” like the destination visitor gets.
Lodging packages, concerts and other events are part of that retail message. Pricing and details are more accurate the closer it is to the date of travel so that’s what will be delivered in the summer ad campaign.

A few facts

More people visit California than any other state. And it’s mostly Californians (85 percent) who are the tourists in the state. That’s why LTVA knows it’s important to keep getting the message out to the drive market. This is even more imperative when places like Monterey and Napa are competing for those same visitors.
However, because the Bay Area-Sacramento regions have a limited number of people, the destination guest will not be forgotten. The way marketing people see it, the only way to increase the number of heads in beds is to bring in the destination guest.
But economics is sabotaging that scenario. People aren’t flying as much. They aren’t spending as much. They are staying closer to home.
“What happens is as budgets change or economies or consumer behavior, you have to adjust your marketing strategy accordingly,” Wagnon said. “We are fortunate to have such a big drive market. We can shift our focus and turn up the energy on the Bay Area to get a bigger share of that drive-up market.”
Wagnon is vice president of the California tourism agency’s marketing committee and president of Ski Lake Tahoe. His day job is overseeing the marketing department at Heavenly Mountain Resort.
The California Travel and Tourism Commission says more than 300 million Americans and 7 million foreigners visit the state each year.
“While 2009 travel trends predict percentage of travel, disposable income and most aspects of travel to see reductions in 2009, the last quarter of 2009 shows an upswing in travel,” according to studies performed by Travel Industry Association and U.S. Department of Commerce.
A growing trend is green travel. PGAV Destination Consulting, a planning and design firm in the international entertainment, tourism and hospitality industries, did a survey that revealed that about 75 percent of people between 18 and 34 are “more likely to visit an attraction that is pursuing environmentally friendly practices.”
It went on to say, “Almost 60 percent of people under age 35 expect to pay more for green attractions, and they will pay over 10 percent more. Most of these consumers [nearly 65 percent] expect their spending on green products to increase over the next 12 months.”
The only South Shore lodging property claiming to be eco-friendly is 968 Park Spa Resort near Stateline. Lake Tahoe Community College has an Introduction to Eco-tourism class this quarter as well as Principles of Green Marketing class.
Time will tell if LTVA sees green beyond the dollars it spends and the greenbacks it hopes to bring to the community.

Upcoming Tahoe events

May – that’s when the next Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority event takes place.
The Sports Commission is coordinating the Masters Track Meet at South Tahoe Middle School. The May 30-31 event is expected to attract 500 participants.
June 13-14 will be the Summer Kick-off, formerly known as Opening Days Lake Tahoe. Because it seemed to shutdown the South Shore more than open it up to visitors, it has been renamed and restructured.
A food and wine festival will be staged in the Ski Run area that weekend. Other events are likely to be dispersed throughout the South Shore. Geogaching, an event LTVA has sponsored the last couple of years, will also take place that same weekend.
LTVA Executive Director Carol Chaplin gave an update to the South Lake Tahoe City Council on Jan. 6. She said the number of visitors to the website is staying constant, while people are perusing pages longer.
In the first quarter of this fiscal year that began Oct. 1, the South Lake Tahoe visitors center had 724 more visitors than the previous year, the Stateline center numbers increased by more than 1,000 and the Meyers center had 800 more than 2007.
LTVA board meetings have been moved to the second Thursday of the month at 3pm. January’s meeting has been canceled.

SLT fired cop situation escalates

unedited 1/09 Tahoe Mt. News:

By Kathryn Reed

On a split vote in closed session, the South Lake Tahoe City Council agreed Jan. 6 to appeal an arbitration panel’s decision that said Johnny Poland should be reinstated as a city police officer.
It is likely to cost the city upward of $100,000 to fight the case in Superior Court. It is not known how much the city has paid outside counsel or the number of staff hours that have gone into this case.
The arbitration panel of former South Lake Mayor Tom Davis, ex-SLT Police Chief Don Muren and mediator-arbitrator Bill Reeves met for two days in August to interview people and review facts regarding Poland’s firing in June 2007 because of his actions in November 2006 when South Tahoe High School had to go on lockdown. It was a 3-0 vote last month for Poland to be given back his badge.
Four days after the Dec. 18 ruling was made, the City Council met behind closed doors to discuss anticipated litigation with its outside legal counsel.
City Manager Dave Jinkens and Police Chief Terry Daniels would not comment on this personnel issue.
Prior to this month’s closed session about the issue, Mayor Pro Tem Kathay Lovell consulted with City Attorney Cathy DiCamillo and the city’s special counsel about whether she should be a party to the discussions and if she should vote on the matter. Both attorneys ruled that even though Lovell’s son joined the police department after the 2007 firing occurred, no conflict exists. Nor is there a conflict with her husband, El Dorado County sheriff’s Lt. Les Lovell, being friends with the police chief.
But this isn’t good enough for Poland. He wants the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission to rule on whether Lovell has a conflict that should preclude her from voting on the matter.
The city had 90 days to appeal, reinstate the 10-year veteran or offer Poland a buyout.
The police officers’ union does not support the chief’s stance to keep fighting the case. Daniels was denied their support after he asked Officer Scott Willson, who was on the 2008 South Lake Tahoe Police Officers Association board, for the union’s support. (Willson took over the school resource officer position from Poland after the 2006 incident.)
A majority of the 2008 and 2009 board members met Dec. 31 to discuss the matter. A letter was written to the chief from the two boards that in part says, “If the city chooses to take further action against Officer Poland it will be without your requested support of the Association.”
A copy of that letter was attached to a letter to the city manager dated Jan. 5 and signed by Officer David Allen, secretary of the officers’ union, explaining their position.
However, this does mean Poland has the support of every officer.
Legally the city cannot release the arbitration findings. Poland could. He chooses not to until he gets back on the streets as an officer.
“I’ve read the report. It’s not like they ruled everything in my favor. It just said there is no way you are going to fire this guy,” Poland said. “I feel like I got a fair hearing and that’s all I wanted.”
Poland said his attorney told the city prior to the Jan. 6 meeting that he was not interested in a buyout – that he’s “not for sale.”
The 40-year-old said he would not take a buyout even if it’s in the quarter million dollar range. He said, “… it would defeat the whole purpose of what I did. Even if the money is good, how do I explain that to another agency?”
Poland said the arbitration ruling means he is owed back pay for 16 months and two weeks. The panel also ruled he should be suspended without pay for six weeks for actions related to the November 2006 incident where he admittedly let a student leave campus with a BB gun in his vehicle.
Poland acknowledges it would be difficult to work for people who don’t want him to be an officer. He believes management would have a harder time.
While he waits for the appeal process to go forward, Poland continues to work as a security guard at Harrah’s-Harveys.

Tahoe man goes after Google millions

unedited 1/09 Tahoe Mt. News:

By Kathryn Reed

Two million dollars – that’s the amount of money South Shore’s Garry Bowen hopes will come his way from Google through Project 10 to the 100th. The money would be used to bring his idea to fruition.
Bowen’s is one of more than 100,000 entries in Google’s quest “to change the world by helping as many people as possible.” The project is in conjunction with the Internet company’s 10th anniversary.
Last year Google solicited ideas relating to community, opportunity, energy, environment, health, education, shelter and everything else. Google employees will narrow the entrants to the top 100. Then it’s up to the public starting Jan. 27 to vote and select the best 20. An advisory board will choose the final five. Those five will share the $10 million Google has allocated for Project 10 to the 100th.
To learn more about the project and to vote for Bowen or others, go to
Bowen’s proposal is about educating locals and tourists about the area. He’d like to create a kiosk for people to understand the science behind why the Lake is so clear and what needs to be done to keep it that way, as well as other environmental facts. But he wants it presented in a fun manner, not where people’s eyes glaze over. Water, soil, air, fire and other issues would be presented in an entertaining way.
“The information needs to be pretty solid if we are going to teach people about the world around us,” Bowen said. “I know there is a hunger for knowledge. We need to share with people why we are working on clarity. It’s for their benefit. A huge missing element here is public outreach and education.”
He envisions using Google’s hardware technology and Edwin Schlossberg’s ESI Design, which he calls the world’s premier interactive designer, for the software end.
Bowen would like to erect a yurt at the end of Linear Park on the old Shell station site next to Holiday Inn Express. He selected this site because it’s essentially a confluence of pedestrian-bicycle traffic, especially as Lakeview Commons and the South Tahoe Greenway bike path become realities.
This kiosk would be part of a trail network. Bowen envisions other kiosks being erected throughout the basin, ideally nowhere near a parking lot. He wants people to walk or bike to them so the environment is always a part of the learning process.
The kiosk would be in the yurt. No foundation would be needed, so no EIR needed because it would not impact the ground.
Bowen realizes the fine details like ownership, maintenance and information updates would need to be worked out. That can wait until he knows later this month if he made the top 100.
“I think Tahoe needs another attraction besides the Lake. It’s so politicized now. In some ways it’s so irrelevant to people,” Bowen said. “Why not build an attraction for them and put it in a place of natural beauty?”

Beach House restaurant in Kauai

unedited Tahoe Mt. News 1/09

Ambiance, service, food – those are the three main ingredients for a memorable dining experience. The Beach House in Koloa, Kauai, nails it on all three.
December was my first trip to this Hawaiian island, therefore my initial visit to the Beach House. My sister, Pam, first told me about the restaurant – it’s where she and her husband, Bob, had their wedding dinner three years ago.
It is the only non-resort beachfront restaurant on the Garden Island. Owners Roy Dunn and Mike Hooks used to own the Big Water Grille in Incline. The building has been built three times. The last time was after Hurricane Iniki leveled it in 1992.
We had reservations for 5:30pm in order to witness the sun sinking into the Pacific. With the temperate climate, window seating takes on a new meaning. The view is unobstructed by glass. Diners leave their seats to take pictures of themselves, the setting sun framed by the palm trees and enhanced by tiki torches.
General Manager Jordan James admits this can create havoc for the kitchen because food may be ready but no one is at the table. Still, with seating for 240, the staff seems to have figured out how to make it all work.
Sue’s seafood corn chowder was piping hot. My watermelon salad was exquisite. I was more than satisfied with the one vegetarian entrée – a portobello mushroom ensemble. Sue still talks about the roasted garlic black truffle ono entrée she devoured.
The restaurant is one of those where you don’t know the waiter is there, but the water glass is never empty, the wine is poured without interruption in conversation, napkins are folded when you’re off taking pictures.
It’s a good idea to make dinner reservations right after booking your flight.
Pam and Bob dined at the Beach House a couple nights after us. Pam tried the recipe that is below. She raved about the dish and said the $30 she spent was well worth it. Bob had the macadamia nut crusted mahimahi, which is the restaurant’s best seller.
Save room for dessert – the molten chocolate desire is outrageously phenomenal.
Fresh fish is guaranteed because the restaurant hires people to fish for them locally. Other fish comes from the surrounding islands.
Chef Todd Barrett said he doesn’t have one fish that he likes to work with more than another. Much of his time is spent on perfecting sauces for them. He hails from the Bay Area. Barrett will be on the South Shore this month to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday, to ski a little and show his 8-year-old daughter snow for the first time.

Wasabi Crusted Snapper

Serves 4-6 people, leftovers of butter compound can hold a couple weeks. This is good on any white fish.

1 lb unsalted butter
6 T wasabi powder or premade wasabi paste
Salt and pepper
Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

If using wasabi powder, make it into a paste. Then whip butter and wasabi in blender to make smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper. Whip in Panko so it is evenly distributed. Mixture should be pliable, but thick.

Butter Sauce:
½-3/4 C dry white wine
½ shallot, diced
Fresh thyme sprigs
Several white or black peppercorns
½ C fresh lemon juice
½ C fresh passion fruit juice (lilikoi)
½ C heavy whipping cream
1 lb butter

In sauce pan, add the first six ingredients. Bring to a boil so the liquid is reduced in half. Then add up to ½ C cream to double the volume. Taste. If more lilikoi is needed, add 1 tsp at a time. Then over medium heat reduce the cream mixture by half so it is bubbly and thick. Then add about 1 T of butter at a time to double the amount of liquid so it comes ½ to ¾ C of liquid in pan. Stir constantly while adding butter. Once butter is melted and desired amount of liquid is created, strain out shallots, peppercorns and any pulp. It’s imperative to keep liquid warm, but not over heat so the butter doesn’t burn.


4-6 white fish fillets
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Use sauté pan that can go under a broiler. Put in a liberal amount of olive oil. Get it hot. Season fillets with salt and pepper. Throw them in pan. Sear first side so it gets color – 1.5-2 minutes. Flip the fillet. Spoon the wasabi mixture on top in an even layer. When the fish is still medium raw, finish cooking it under a broiler so the butter is cooked out and the wasabi is melted into the top of the fish. This should be 3-4 minutes. Fish should be 6-8 inches below the fire. Keep an eye on the fish.
The Beach House serves this dish with a vegetable medley and steamed rice.

County courthouse dispute

unedited Tahoe Mt. News 1/09:

By Kathryn Reed

Marjorie Johnson Springmeyer may have the last word regarding the property her family gave to South Lake Tahoe for a city hall in 1967. The Johnson Boulevard site was subsequently leased to the county to build a jail and courthouse.
The descendant of one of the South Shore’s pioneer families has been calling City Manager Dave Jinkens about the issue since the Tahoe Mountain News brought the current dispute to light in December. On Dec. 30 Springmeyer left Jinkens’ a voicemail saying her attorney is now involved.
It’s possible it will take a judge to resolve the courthouse dispute.
Springmeyer stayed late into the afternoon Jan. 6 to tell the council in person just what she thinks of the whole matter. She spoke for about 20 minutes about the wrongs that past councils and county boards of supervisors have made.
For some reason the city and county are confused about whether the 5 acres that the county was supposed to give the city as payment for being able to use the “city hall” land was handed over and if they were, which 5 acres they are.
The city is researching the matter. Staff believes the county still owes the city 5 acres. The county disagrees.
The issue has resurfaced because the county per California law was planning to hand the building over to the state last month. However, a 1972 agreement between the city and county says the city must approve of any such transfer.
It took two years of correspondence before city and county staff finally met in person Dec. 18 in Placerville. At that meeting a letter was given to the city signed by Lesley Gomes, deputy county counsel.
In part it says, “The purpose of this letter is to reiterate the County’s position that the statutorily-mandated ‘transfer of responsibility’ of the court facility on Johnson Blvd. from the County to the State pursuant to the Trial Court Facilities Act is not subject to the City’s approval. Without waiving this position, in the spirit of cooperation and in the interest of furthering the objectives of the statutorily-mandated transfer, the County is hereby accommodating your request and formally seeking the City’s consent to the ‘transfer of responsibility’ for the court facility on Johnson Blvd.”
At the Jan. 6 City Council meeting the council was briefed on the matter. Jinkens and City Attorney Cathy DiCamillo will continue to research the issues pertaining to the deed of the property and the 1972 agreement. It’s likely the council will take some sort of action on the courthouse issue when it next meets Jan. 27.

Planning Tahoe's future

unedited 1/09 Tahoe Mt. News story:

By Kathryn Reed

Reality vs. pipe dreams. That sums up much of this month’s discussion about South Lake Tahoe’s general plan.
Representatives from Mintier & Associates, the consulting firm putting together the document that will be the city’s planning vision through 2030, gave the City Council an update Jan. 6.
Although the council likes the idea of fewer strip malls, more green space, pedestrian-bike friendly thoroughfares and a city that is well laid out, individually they all said that’s going to be pretty hard to achieve because when the city was incorporated 43 years ago planning was a missing component.
They questioned how and why private property owners would give up their business enterprises to make greenways. They talked about some parts of town, like from Tahoe Keys Boulevard to Meeks Lumber, not falling into community plans. Community plans are something TRPA came up with.
The city must comply with Tahoe Regional Planning Agency rules. The bi-state agency doesn’t expect to have its visionary document finished until 2010. It is likely to be significantly different than the rules set forth in 1998.
City Manager Dave Jinkens believes the general plan should be the city’s bible and that regional and other plans should be secondary.
No action was taken by the city earlier this month. The consultant expects to be back in May to ask the council to make policy decisions.

Plans for the Y

The much maligned Y Community Plan, also known as the Tahoe Valley Plan, is expected to see daylight soon. The draft environmental documents should be released this quarter. The public will have 60 days to make comments once it comes out.
TRPA and the council must approve the document.
In the meantime, TRPA’s community enhancement program (CEP) that was unveiled 18 months ago is making slow progress. So slow that the Governing Board later this month is expected to offer one-year extensions to project developers.
Of the nine proposals, two are on the South Shore – both at the Y. All structures would have to meet minimum environmental building standards.
The thrust of the CEP is that a project must go above and beyond the normal environmental improvements. In turn, property owners would be allocated commercial floor area and tourist accommodation units that are usually difficult or expensive to obtain.
Neither of the Y projects would use TAUs.
Preliminary ideas were submitted for the Kmart-Raley’s center and Mikasa properties. However, neither has developed the more detailed plans needed to progress. The original deadline to do so was next month.
Teri Jamin, South Lake’s community development director, believes both projects are “headed in the right direction” and deserve the one-year extension.
An out of town family trust owns the old Mikasa-Millers Outpost site. Separate owners have the deed to the former AAA building where the League to Save Lake Tahoe is headquartered. Those people have expressed an interest in being part of the development process.
“It makes sense to expand the site for circulation and traffic,” Jamin said.
However, she cautions that if a long-term lease is signed, then the CEP would be dead in the water. Raley’s has the lease and has sublet the property. The company did this to prevent a grocery store from occupying the building. Years ago Safeway was there.
In the preliminary plans, the Mikasa site would be a combination of retail and residential. An outdoor movie screen would top one building. It would be for special events, not full length features.
Across the street, the multiple owners of the Kmart-Raley’s center also submitted preliminary documents to TRPA for the CEP. It’s possible the wing where Starbucks is would be removed. Retail would be moved toward the transit center.
Although the original plans called for re-establishing a gas station, TRPA already nixed that idea.
Housing on top of Kmart and Raley’s would ideally connect the residential community behind the stores. A park has long been proposed for the property behind Raley’s on Tata Lane that was used for overflow council parking. TRPA likes this concept.
If the projects come to fruition, TRPA will have achieved its goal of reducing fine sediment that reaches the Lake and the city will have improved an intersection it has wanted to declare blighted.

Bike trail issues on South Shore

unedited 1/09 Tahoe Mt. News story:

By Kathryn Reed

Even though the bicycle was invented long before the automobile, the human powered vehicle often takes a back seat to its four-wheeled counterpart.
South Shore cycling advocates are not letting this thwart their efforts to put lanes and trails in, and to improve exiting routes. South Lake Tahoe’s Recreation Department should hear in March or April if it qualified for a $500,000 state bike trail grant. The city must come up with 10 percent in matching funds – it has 10.01 percent set aside.
Gary Moore, who runs the rec department, wants to use that money to repair current trails that often require mountain bike tires because of the size of the cracks.
“It doesn’t make sense to move on (new trails) when you cannot ride on the ones we have,” Moore said.
He would like to fix the Al Tahoe path, Linear Park and the route that runs behind Meeks-Motel 6. The latter gets a ton of snow because an agreement allows the snow from the motel parking lot to be pushed onto the trail.
Moore told the City Council last fall that it’s possible to use a combination of latex and asphalt like what was used on the airport runway. It costs more, but lasts longer. The freeze-thaw that occurs in the mountains makes cracks develop at a rapid pace.
No entity in El Dorado County has received money from this particular grant program so city staff is hoping that fact is a bonus.

Issues at the Y

City Council members and staff have gotten an earful about the narrow lanes at the Y since Caltrans reconfigured the intersection. The lanes make it a worse nightmare for bicyclists than before the state workers came to town last summer.
It’s no easy task for pedestrians to cross either now that snow has fallen.
The council entertained a motion Jan. 6 (deadlines got in the way to know the vote) to authorize Qualcon Construction to “perform corrective pavement striping” at the Y. The $37,800 expense would not impact the general fund.

Caltrans weighs in

The Highway 50 Project is really about protecting the Lake and has little to do with anyone using the road. It’s about stopping road salt, oil and other muck from reaching the Lake. Right now three pipes between El Dorado Beach and Rufus Allen Boulevard bring gunk from the highway to the water.
Ty Polastri, who runs the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition, said had been meeting with Caltrans officials frequently. Those discussions led to a compromise – Caltrans will put in bike lanes when it does the Trout Creek to Ski Run Boulevard project next year.

Meyers to Stateline

The draft environmental documents for the South Lake Tahoe Greenway that would run from Meyers to Stateline have been delayed. Sue Rae Irelan, project manager with the California Tahoe Conservancy, says summer is now the target date for release.
The project is caught up in the state’s Dec. 17 stop work order. So nothing is happening with it right now. This won’t change until politicians figure out how to deal with the budget deficit.

Barton Meadow changes possible

unedited Tahoe Mt. News 1/09 story

By Kathryn Reed

Human recreation needs, Lake clarity and wildlife habitat are the major components being considered as plans go forward to change Barton Meadow.
In December, Peter Eicher and Adam Lewandowski of the California Tahoe Conservancy presented to the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission the four alternatives under review for this area that is also known as the Upper Truckee Marsh. Four alternatives exist for restoring the portion of the Upper Truckee River that comes out at Cove East in the Tahoe Keys; and four alternatives are provided for recreation on the other side of the river – Barton Meadow.
Unlike most projects, the draft EIR/EIS will not have a preferred alternative. Instead, officials want people to pick and choose from the proposals to devise a final version. A draft of the environmental documents for this expanse in the middle of South Lake Tahoe is expected to be released in late spring. At that time public comment will be formally sought.
Because funding to improve this CTC owned meadow is likely to come from federal agencies an environmental impact statement is needed.
CTC wants to begin work on the three-year project in 2011. Costs are roughly estimated between $15 million and $20 million. That money has not been secured.
The recreation component could affect Cove East, but will have the most impact on people living on the other side of the river in the Al Tahoe neighborhood.
Although no one from the public was at last month’s meeting, past public gatherings have created an outpouring of concern about parking. Residents don’t want their narrow streets filled with people accessing meadow trails that lead to Harootunian and Barton beaches.
Gary Moore, city recreation director, said discussions have begun regarding the possibility of issuing parking permits to residents so law enforcement would know which vehicles should be parked in the area.
Many of the commissioners were in support of the proposal with the most recreation benefits. This includes creating a boardwalk along the beaches that would also come with a crossing over the river so people could travel to Cove East. The idea is that this would serve as a critical link between bike routes.
However, the Cove East trail is dirt and doesn’t work for road bikes. The composition of a boardwalk may not be conducive to road bike riding either.
Some commissioners expressed an interest in building a trail through the meadow. The CTC guys noted this would not be good for wildlife.
One alternative for river restoration has it returning to what it was like in the 1930s when it had several branches flowing into the Lake. This would impact canoeists and kayakers who like to exit along Venice Drive or go out to the Lake.
Another alternative had no beach access from Al Tahoe. Moore was adamant that blocking off the meadow will not deter people. He likes the approach that providing a distinct route gives trail users what they want and keeps people out of sensitive areas.
More information is at

Transit changes in Tahoe

unedited Jan. 09 Tahoe Mt. News story

By Kathryn Reed

Chaos is a mild word for what ensued after all but Councilman Bruce Grego voted to terminate Area Transit Management’s contract to run South Lake Tahoe’s bus system.
Andrew Morris’ company was supposed to turn over operation to interim operator MV Transit on Dec. 15. Morris called John Andoh, BlueGo transit administrator, the night of Dec. 11 saying he was stopping operations the next morning.
Not only did MV operate the city’s bus system ahead of schedule, the company took over Heavenly Mountain Resort’s routes. ATM abandoned the ski resort contract without warning.
Heavenly can run 30 buses on a peak day for its seven routes. About 400,000 ride its buses each ski season.
“It was a little rocky that weekend especially picking up the Heavenly service,” said Rick Angelocci, assistant city manager. He is on the South Tahoe Area Transit Authority (STATA) board which oversees the BlueGo bus system.
Andoh said the system is not running at 100 percent efficiency, but expects to be at that level by the end of February.
Morris did not respond to an email inquiry from the Tahoe Mountain News.

Rough road

Andoh admits riders are upset about late buses, drivers not knowing routes and dispatch being hard to reach. He is addressing every complaint. Free bus passes, taxing people to their destination and sending out another bus have been solutions.
When ATM abruptly left, company officials also took drivers’ names and numbers so it was a scramble for those left picking up the pieces to track down workers.
MV has been on a hiring spree. Drivers are working overtime.
“A lot of employees didn’t transition (from ATM to MV). They didn’t get their BlueGo operator card from the police department or they had felonies or their paychecks bounced and they were mad at transit altogether,” Andoh said. “I have Andrew (Morris’) creditors calling me. A lot of employees’ checks bounced that Friday.”
The entire bus garage, which is on city property, was a mess when ATM crews left. Three dumpsters of trash were hauled away.
“We had to go in and do repairs to the heating system. Neither of the hoists to lift the buses was working. We had to fix the tire changer and garage doors,” Angelocci said.
Andoh is documenting everything and keeping track of all expenses related to what is being spent to cleanup after ATM.

Other concerns

“I believe the beef is with who Mr. Morris bought ATM from,” Mike Weber said Dec. 9 hours after relinquishing his seat on the council. He calls Morris a friend, but said that is not a reason he would have voted to keep ATM onboard. Weber went on to criticize Morris for being an absentee owner and only showing up when he felt threatened.
A slew of safety infractions are what led the city to ax ATM. Morris has run ATM since purchasing the company from Ken Daley in November 2006.
“A lot of skeletons are out of the closet as a result of the transition,” Andoh said. He said employees are talking about missed routes and parts taken from one bus to fix another.
Andoh is also tracking down a complaint from a woman who said while ATM was the operator her 4-year-old daughter was caught in the rear door of a bus and dragged several feet. This could be an interlock brake system malfunction.
“(ATM) had written on one of the repair reports that the interlock braking system was not a safety issue,” Angelocci said. “That’s why we were concerned about ATM continuing the system.”

Looking forward

Angelocci said STATA will meet to decide what action as a board it might take against ATM. Heavenly and South Lake Tahoe could pursue legal action independently, though those decisions have not been made.
The city expected to meet this month to figure out if ATM owes franchise and fuel fees, and what other money should be recouped.
Andoh is credited with keeping the system from totally collapsing. He practically worked around the clock, including riding routes to help educate drivers. He said at the end of December he was able to take three days off. However, those three days were spent in Phoenix checking out that city’s light rail.
In the long run, the STATA board wants to hire one company to operate the entire fleet that services South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado and Douglas counties, the casinos, Kingsbury Grade and Heavenly. Request for proposals will be accepted until Feb. 13. The board expects to make a decision in May.
The plan is offer a three-year contract with two one-year extensions.
Before the ATM brouhaha Andoh had been asking for comments about local and basinwide bus service. He is accepting them through Jan. 16. Write him at: John Andoh, TRPA, PO Box 5310, Stateline, NV 89449; call (775) 589-5284; fax (775) 588-4527; email
In other BlueGo news, fares for those 17 and younger changed Jan. 1. Valid identification is required to secure the $1 one-way fare, $3 day pass, $8 10-pack or $35 monthly pass. Kids 4 and younger ride free. Summer youth passes (June 1-Aug. 31) cost $45.
For additional BlueGo info, call (530) 541-7149 or visit

Monday, February 23, 2009

SLT man dies in back country

By Niesha Lofing
Published: Monday, Feb. 23, 2009 - 10:48 am Last Modified: Monday, Feb. 23, 2009 - 2:42 pm

Authorities have found the body of a South Lake Tahoe skier who had been missing since Saturday, the victim of an avalanche.
El Dorado County Sheriff's Search and Rescue teams found Christopher Trethaway, 39, in a fresh avalanche west of Cascade Lake in an area near Maggie's Peak, said sheriff's Lt. Les Lovell.
There was no one else with him.
Search and rescue personnel initially found a ski pole and hat about 9:30 a.m. today near a fresh slide and concentrated their efforts in that area, he said.
Trethaway's body was found at 10:56 a.m.
Authorities estimate Trethaway died Saturday afternoon.
"Due to conditions, it's difficult to give an exact time," Lovell said.
Trethaway had been reporting missing by a friend about 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Searchers found his car parked at the Bayview Trailhead near Emerald Bay, with only one set of shoes inside the vehicle.
Despite limited light and stormy conditions, rescue personnel searched the immediate area but did not locate Trethaway or information about his whereabouts.
Lovell said the area is very prone to avalanches and the search and rescue teams had found evidence of several recent avalanches.
"There's a very icy snow pack and a lot of wet, heavy snow on top of it, so it tends to slide," he said.
An autopsy will be performed to determine the time and cause of Trethaway's death.
People killed in avalanches often either suffocate or suffer traumatic injuries due to the falling snow, Lovell said.
Sheriff's officials are asking people using the backcountry to tell others where they intend to go, how long they plan to stay and how many people are in their party.
Officials also are thankful of help they received from allied agencies and volunteers during the search.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Relay for Life in Lake Tahoe


The Relay for Life to raise money for the ACS, the American Cancer Society, is scheduled at Kahle Community Park for August 8 and 9, 2009.

The kickoff party/rally/celebration will be THIS FEBRUARY, on the 25th a Wednesday, only a week and a half from now!

WHERE: The kickoff will be at the Boys and Girls Club, 1100 Lyons Avenue in South Lake Tahoe, CA from 5 - 7 P.M.

WHY AND HOW: The kickoff will be in the form of an open house this year. We will be open at 5 P.M. to register teams, to answer questions and accept volunteers for the relay committees. After you have the materials and information that you need, you do not need to stay for any longer unless you wish to.

IT'S AN OPEN HOUSE! A short program will be presented from 6-6:30 including a cancer survivor, a luminaria ceremony and an introduction of the new co-chairs and committee chairpersons. After the program, there will be time for more registration and networking. ACS professionals from the Reno office will be present as well. They can offer help, educational materials about cancer, ideas for raising donations and information regarding how the funds that we raise are used.

WHAT ELSE? There will be door prizes and the Boys and Girls Club members will have beverages and baked goodies to sell to begin their fundraising. Veggie and turkey wraps will be available to those who need sustenance after work. I am the kickoff chairwoman. I need some help at the kickoff on the 25th and some help getting ready. Does anyone make veggie and turkey wraps, have a recipe or can get them donated? Can anyone come and greet the potential volunteers as they arrive at the open house then direct them to the desired areas? Are you able to obtain or donate a door or raffle prize. (Door prizes are to reward those who attend. Raffle prizes are to start raising funds.)Are you, or do you know, a cancer survivor who'd like to speak for 5 to10 minutes about his/her experience? Do you have suggestions or can just show up? And so on... If you'd like to help, or volunteer someone else, please call me at 775-586-8330 or e-mail me at

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Eye Floaters

Eye floaters -- some say it's a condition we all suffer from. Although I wear glasses to read, and seem to need them more and more, I have not been hampered by eye floaters.

I was recently asked to review a product to get rid of eye floaters. One of the main sections of the ebook talked about the psychological issues involved. I'm a firm believer that mind over matter can often cure us of things that ail us. I know mental stress can become a physical ailment. I see this all the time in my massage therapy practice. I also know that once there is an injury, that that body part is likely to be a sore spot from then on.

Being open-minded to the physiological-physical relationship is a necessity. The eye floaters ebook stresses this as well.

The ebook says, "People who wear glasses are more prone to
being Sufferers of Eye Floaters. This is primarily because these are people who have a greater awareness of their eyes and their vision. They have had to question the quality of their eyesight and thus are more aware of the changes that can be noticed when
pertaining to their eyesight."

The ebook says eye doctors are apt to not be able to do anything for eye floaters. I'm not sure how true this is because I have no personal experience.

Assuming, though, that it is true, then the methods outlined in the ebook might be worth trying for those who do suffer from eye floaters. Like all ailments, looking outside the box beyond conventional Western medicine is a good idea. Too often drugs and surgery are choices of medical experts in the United States. While drugs and surgery have their place, they are not always the best solutions nor should they necessarily be the first choices.

Medical care is a personal choice. Second opinions should be sought. And taking responsibility for yourself is a must.

"Again, doing such things and others that evade the problem of Eye Floaters is counterproductive. They do not help and they demand lifestyle changes that are just not right," the Eye Floaters ebook says.

The ebook touches on surgery and supplements. But for the most part the author of the ebook is all about mind over matter. I can't see why it would hurt to try this. Diet is another concern. I certainly agree that what we put in our bodies can play a significant role in how our body operates.

Go to for more information.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

South Lake Tahoe needs volunteers

JUST A REMINDER that the City of South Lake Tahoe is currently soliciting for applications for the following:

Airport Commission

Latino Affairs Commission

El Dorado County Commission on Aging

General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC)

City Sustainability Commission












NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the City Council of the City of South Lake Tahoe is soliciting/resoliciting for applications for appointment to the following commissions/committee:


The City Council will be appointing five (5) members to serve two-year terms on the Airport Commission. Appointees shall consist of at least three (3) members who reside in the city limits. The Airport Commisison meets quarterly. Please Note: Applicants who submitted an application during the previous solicitation period will be also be considered for appointment and will not need to resubmit an new application.


The City Council will be appointing five (5) members to serve two-year terms on the Latino Affairs Commission. Appointees shall consist of at least three (3) members being Latinos. Applicants shall reside or be employed within the Tahoe Basin portion of El Dorado County . The Latino Affairs Commission meets meets a minimum of six (6) times per year. Please Note: Applicants who submitted an application during the previous solicitation period will be also be considered for appointment and will not need to resubmit an new application.


The Council will be appointing one (1) member to serve a two-year term. The El Dorado County Commission on Aging (COA) acts in an advisory capacity to both the Area Agency on Aging and the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors on matters pertaining to and/or of concern to senior residents. The Commission’s responsibilities include recommending funding priorities for Title III/VII Older Americans Act Programs, Community Based Services Programs and the Multipurpose Senior Services Program. The Commission advocates on behalf of all older persons in the County of El Dorado . The Commission on Aging meets on the third Thursday of each month at various locations throughout the County.


The Council will be appointing one (1) member to serve a two-year. Applicants must reside within the City Limits. The GPAC meets in conjunction with the Planning Commission at their meetings which are held on the second Thursday of each month and will assist in the update and revision of the City’s General Plan.


At their January 27, 2009 meeting, the City Council approved establishment of a City Sustainability Commission. The City Council will be appointing seven (7) members from the following categories to serve two-year terms: One (1) Chamber of Commerce representative, One (1) Local Business Owner/Operator, One (1) Education representative, One (1) Environmental Advocate representative, One (1) Labor industry representative, and Two (2) members from the General Public. The first priority/task of the Commission will be developing a work program (within the parameters set by the City Council) within 60 days after the Commission commences its first meeting.

Applications may be obtained at the City Clerk's Office located at 1901 Airport Road , South Lake Tahoe , California between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. , Monday through Friday. Applications can also be downloaded from the City’s website at, mailed, faxed or emailed to interested parties upon request to the City Clerk’s Office. Completed applications must be returned to the City Clerk's Office no later than 5:00 p.m., on Wednesday, February 25, 2009.

If you have any questions, please contact Susan Alessi, City Clerk at 542-6004.

Susan Alessi

Susan Alessi - CITY CLERK


1901 Airport Road

South Lake Tahoe , CA 96150

(530) 542-6004

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wanna live in Tahoe for $150?


Club in Need of Community and Regional Support

(South Lake Tahoe, Calif.) – The future is at stake for the Boys & Girls Club of South Lake Tahoe ( Despite budget cuts, staff reductions, belt-tightening and a creative fundraiser to raffle a $650,000 home in Tahoe; projected measures show the club is likely to see a drastic reduction in services – up to 70% – and an enrollment cut from 800 to 200 children.

To supplement local donations and grants to fund its programs, last year the club initiated a home raffle as a major fundraiser and source of self-sufficiency. With the current economy, raffle participation has not generated the type of support necessary for the club to fully fund itself. The success of the raffle will determine the long-term future of the Lake Tahoe chapter of the Boys & Girls Club.

“At this point, we need every adult in Tahoe to purchase a ticket and spread the word to keep our chapter in the black and maintain services for all kids throughout the year,” said Steve Rude, BGCLT board president. “We need to sell 7,000 raffle tickets and we still have 5,000 to go.”

Home raffle tickets are on sale for $150 each, or two for $200: a feasible way to get into a $650,000 house in Tahoe during these tough times. If less than 7,000 tickets are sold, the raffle winner will be awarded $100,000.

The Boys & Girls Club offers programs and services that promote and enhance the development of children by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness and belonging. The BGCLT addresses the increasing number of kids left unattended after school in the South Lake Tahoe community as an affordable, positive option for families.

Tickets can be purchased until 5:30 p.m. PST on Sunday, Mar. 1. The winner will be announced Saturday, Mar. 21 at 12 p.m. Entry forms are available online at or by contacting Boys & Girls Club at 530-542-0808. Enter to win by faxing or mailing entry forms the Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe: P.O. Box 17846, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96151. Ticket orders can be faxed to 530-542-9185.

The new home is a 2,100 sq. ft. three-bedroom, two and a half bath with mountain and forest views in a quiet neighborhood. A perfect primary residence or second home, it’s located 15 minutes from downtown activities, the lake and award winning ski resorts.

“We’re hoping for another miracle,” said Karen Houser, BGCLT executive director. “We realize the economy is tight but South Shore has great capacity to share. Hopefully, the community will help us stay operational for kids and families,” she continued, “even if it’s just telling friends and family about our raffle.”

Raffle ticket purchases make the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, weddings, or any special occasion. Visit or call 530-542-0808 to learn more.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Jenna Palacio

Weidinger Public Relations 775-588-2412

Monday, February 9, 2009

Heavenly ski resort wants water

Water may be the next precious resource mined in Nevada. Heavenly wants to drill for the liquid gold to supply its ever-growing snowmaking operation.
North America’s largest snowmaking resort wants to tap into water on land it leases from the U.S. Forest Service that is outside the basin. Right now to cover its slopes with fake snow on the Nevada side the resort buys water form Kingsbury General Improvement District.
Heavenly and the USFS are looking to drill two exploratory wells this summer. One would be near the top of Galaxy lift, the other near there Lower Milky Way and Orion’s Belt trails intersect.
If sufficient water is found to warrant putting in permanent wells, more details of the National Environmental Policy Act would need to be followed.
Comment on the proposed temporary wells by Feb. 23 by sending emails to with Heavenly Mountain Exploratory Water Wells in the subject line, or calling (530) 543-2769.

A sexy Valentine's book


Valentine’s Day Keeps on Coming

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, California – From acclaimed writer Shanti Milan comes the second edition of her hot selling book
Get Ready, ‘Cause Here I Come.
Just in time for the most romantic day of the year, Milan’s book is all about everything couples need to ensure both partners are orgasm rich. Valentine’s Day should be about more than chocolate and roses – it should be about incredibly satisfying sex.
Milan’s little book of pleasures will have you wanting to join the mile-high club, looking at hiking in a whole different way and realizing chocolate sauce isn’t just for ice cream.
Lingo like “up periscope”, “giddy up cowgirl”, “table screw”, and “the twister” are designed to become everyday vocabulary, and more important, every day and night additions to your sexual repertoire.
Get Ready, ‘Cause Here I Come is for everyone – men and women, gay and straight, sexually satisfied and those seeking to spice it up a bit , young and old, singles and couples.
To interview Milan, arrange a time by emailing her at To order the $9.99 paperback, go to, Borders Books, Barnes & Noble or

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ski deals for laid off state employees

For Immediate Release
Contact: Savannah Cowley
(530) 583-6985
Furlough Fridays' $30 lift tickets are valid on the first and third Friday of each month

[Squaw Valley USA] February 4, 2009 – On the heels of Governor Schwarzenegger’s order to furlough salaried and non-union California State employees to take two unpaid Fridays each month off of work, Squaw Valley USA announced today that the resort is offering $30 lift tickets to all California State workers affected by furloughs, on the first and third Friday of each month, beginning February 6, 2009.

Friday, February 6, is the first Furlough Friday in which all California State employees affected by the furloughs can ski and ride at Squaw Valley USA for only $30. To purchase this special $30 lift ticket, state workers must bring a valid state identification card or a recent (dated after Dec 31, 2008) State of California paystub and valid photo ID to ticket booth "D" booth (next to adult ski school), between 8:30 and 11 am.

Squaw Valley USA $30 Furlough Fridays are valid February 6, February 20, March 6, and March 20 or until the budget issues are resolved, and furloughs are no longer in effect.

Squaw Valley SnowSports School is offering 2-for-1 $49 Ski or Snowboard Lessons to all guests. For only $49 two, furloughed CA State workers (and all skiers and riders) can bring a friend and each can get a 2-hour ski or snowboard lesson for $24.50 per person. This offer is available to anyone and is valid 7 days a week!

The most up-to-date resort conditions, operation schedules, events and live mountain cams are available on

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Eco-friendly hotel in Tahoe

Eco-friendly 968 Park Spa Resort in Tahoe
Kathryn Reed, Special to The Chronicle

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Outside, it's awash in white snow. Inside, it's all about being green.

As the first truly eco-friendly hotel on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe, 968 Park Spa Resort is a serious option for overnight visitors for whom protecting the environment is more than just a bumper-sticker slogan.

"We are renovators, not developers. We use what's there," said Solomon Aflalo, who with his brother David bought the Stateline-area property for nearly $5 million at the end of 2007 (along with five silent partners). Most of the 2008 renovation was spent taking the 58-room, 1970s-era Days Inn down to the studs and creating a "green compliant" lodging oasis. It opened just before the holidays.

The mantra during the remodel of 968 Park was simple: Nothing ends up in a landfill. What wasn't reused was given away or sold. What stayed - and what was brought in - was put to use, sometimes in very creative ways:

-- All the furniture was custom designed from recycled wood. (The dressers are narrower that most, with the thinking that guests would prefer more room for themselves than for their clothes.)

-- Mirrors in rooms are from the old armoires. Molding was made from scrap wood from the old place.

-- In the entryway, reclaimed wood with chipped paint from years gone by mix with maroon and off-white fabric-covered benches, and ultra-modern fireplaces burn denatured alcohol that results in zero emissions. An old mattress spring serves as wall art behind one of the seating areas.

-- Each room features a print from local photographer John Paul, who used recycled paper and old frames.

An abundance of natural light mixed with modern overhead fixtures and the light concrete floors give the front room an open feel, and around the corner is a kitchen. (The theory behind this is that at a party everyone ends up in the kitchen, so why not create a familiar, comfortable setting for guests.)

Even the breakfast fits the eco-friendly theme: scones, croissants and other baked goods are provided by Alpine Organics. The hotel staff heats them each morning, so the aroma of fresh baked goods permeates the mountain air. Discussions are under way with an El Dorado County winery to provide an organic vintage.

The rooms feel upscale and rustic: A vessel sink is part of the vanity in the wide entryway, not far from the low-energy 42-inch flat-screen television and the 800-thread-count sheets on the Sterling mattresses, which are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

If fault is to be found, it's with the tiny bathrooms. The standard-size tub-shower combo seems at odds with the luxury of the room, though it fits with sustainability by not being excessive or expansive.

Despite the ecological angle, the hotel is not without amenities: Two massage rooms are on the bottom floor of the three-story hotel (in-room massages are available); there is a party-size hot tub and a sauna; and a $4,000 ionizer in the lobby purifies the drinking water.

Near the parking area (covered for smaller vehicles, uncovered for SUVs) there is a locker room for skis and snowboards, so gear doesn't have to be hauled to rooms.

Along with the sustainable practices inside the hotel, its proximity to Heavenly Mountain Resort's gondola means no driving is required. Across Highway 50 are the slopes and shopping. Stateline casinos are also within walking distance. The public bus stop and shuttles taking riders to Sierra-at-Tahoe and Kirkwood Mountain Resort are also close enough to walk to.

Summer travelers have access to the private Lakeside Beach. Without snow and ice, it's an easy walk.

968 Park Spa Resort: 968 Park Ave., South Lake Tahoe. $149-$349. (877) 544-0968,

Kathryn Reed is a freelance writer. E-mail her at

This article appeared on page R - 47 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Community garage sale

We are having a yard sale at the Douglas Drop-in in Gardnerville!!!Did you know we have two locations?

This event will take place Sunday February 8th.

Please bring anything that you would like to donate to Cheyanne at the SLT Drop-in center on Sandy way next to B of A behind fremont mall.

I need all donations by Friday the 6th at the latest.

Thank you so much for considering us,

Cheyanne Lane

Street Outreach Coordinator

Tahoe Youth and Family Services