Candidate Pierini wants more county jobs for Tahoe, better snow removal
September 18, 2005
Editor’s note: This is the second in a series on the four candidates running for El Dorado County’s 5th District supervisor seat. The profiles will be printed in alphabetical order according to the candidates’ names.
He counts raising two children as his greatest accomplishment, but Lou Pierini’s biggest claim to fame is arguably his role as a lead plaintiff in the lawsuit to stop a tax on South Lake Tahoe businesses via the city Tourism Promotion Business Improvement District.
The small-business owner said he is the only one running for El Dorado County’s 5th District Supervisor seat who has held elected office. Pierini served four years on the board of the South Tahoe Public Utility District.
He owns Lake Tahoe Coin Jewelry and Loan.
Pierini’s goals as supervisor include ensuring Lake Tahoe gets its “fair share of goods and services from the county.” He would push for consistent and reliable snow removal and for repaving roads. He’d also like to find a home for Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, expand library services and improve the look of Meyers.
“We should make the entry into Tahoe look like Tahoe,” he said.
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Pierini’s other main goal is getting more county jobs up to Lake Tahoe. That will keep families up here and address declining enrollment at schools, he said.
“We have to create jobs via different government programs and private enterprise that pay well enough for people to make a living here,” Pierini said.
And he would never approve a county-wide BID, he said.
South Lake Tahoe’s BID is flawed, Pierini said. One of his opponents, attorney Dennis Crabb, was a legal architect of the city’s BID.
There is no precedent in creating a BID for an entire city, Pierini said. The BID is also unfair, he said, because the businesses who will benefit most from tourism are not in the district and are not required to pay: casinos, lodging and ski resorts.
And because the payment limit is $3,000, those businesses with the highest revenues in the city were not likely to oppose it, Pierini said. He indicated a certain grocery store, if charged at the same rate as small businesses, would have had to pay $50,000 to the BID.
South Tahoe’s BID monies are earmarked for marketing, while most BIDs in California were created to improve infrastructure.
After controversy erupted this spring, the BID was approved by the South Lake Tahoe City Council in July. A judge has ordered the money not be used until a lawsuit challenging its legality is concluded.
“We will prevail in the end, because it’s so wrong,” Pierini said.
Pierini held elected office as a board member of the South Tahoe Public Utility District from 1989 to 1993.
As part of his tenure with the district, he traveled to Washington, D.C. to negotiate a water rights settlement with the Paiute Indian Tribe, who live on Pyramid Lake.
Lake Tahoe is a reservoir and feeds Pyramid Lake through the Truckee River. The agreement ensured the dam at Tahoe City would allow enough waterflow down the Truckee River to keep fish spawning and to maintain a healthy fish population at Pyramid Lake.
“It guarantees us a set amount of water rights, a set amount of acre feet to use here in the basin, and that’s never been done before,” Pierini said. The agreement prevented further litigation on water usage and smartly excluded water used for snowmaking, he said.
In his time at STPUD, the district “created capacity through conservation instead of expansion,” by offering rebates on low-flow toilets. Another accomplishment, he said, is that most of the people the board hired are still there, which means “we hired good people.”
The 5th District Supervisor also serves as a governing board member of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
In that role, Pierini would encourage staff to come up with ideas that have more give and take, and to vet those ideas with senior staff and board members at committee meetings prior to them coming as official agenda items for approval.
Pierini said his opponent is responsible for declines at the city as former city attorney and as private consultant for several projects.
“Dennis Crabb has been in charge of giving legal advice to the city for 20 years, first as city attorney, outlasting five or six city managers and mayors,” Pierini said.
“So all these declines we’ve seen at the city in terms of goods and services, tourism dollars, everything, it ultimately goes to his watch,” Pierini said.
“While I was city attorney,” Crabb responded, “the city made significant strides in revitalizing the community, in a number of ways, and when I left, the city had a balanced budget and a plan called Destination 2000. After I left the city, there were a number of things that occurred, most of which had to do with forces beyond the control of the city.”