Community leaders focus on positives at 2nd annual State of the South Shore event

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The Tahoe Chamber and community leaders reflected back on the past year Friday during the chamber’s 2nd annual State of the South Shore address.

Steve Teshara, the chamber’s CEO, hosted the event with other speakers including the Chamber Board President Bob Anderson, South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tamara Wallace, El Dorado County Supervisor Sue Novasel, Douglas County Manager Patrick Cates and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Executive Director Joanne Marchetta.

Fallout and recovery from the pandemic was a major theme of the event. Anderson pointed out that the 2020 State of the South Shore was the last live event they had before stay-at-home orders came down.

Anderson said that the chamber pivoted to economic support, providing over 100 businesses with personal protective equipment and launching the Go Local program which gave incentives to shop locally. They also hosted many of their usual events virtually such as Sample the Sierra, Blue Ribbon Awards and their LevelUP seminars, as well as, 29 virtual town halls and 35 industry specific town halls.

Wallace also touched on the pandemic, mentioning the city spent more than $1 million on help for businesses, which was significantly more than it had received in CARES Act funding.

The city is currently developing its five-year strategic plan. One of the items for discussion is economic diversification, because as the pandemic showed, the city cannot solely rely on tourism dollars.

Novasel went through COVID facts, including vaccination numbers. As of Thursday, the county has given out 38,000 doses of the vaccine, 23% of which went to Lake Tahoe. Seniors have received 57% of those vaccinations.

“I can report that we have not wasted a single dose,” Novasel said.

In Douglas County, Cates was proud of the county’s financial response to COVID, which included an immediate hiring freeze and a stop to capital improvement projects that didn’t have outside funding or weren’t already started. With the conservative budget, Cates is expecting the county to end the fiscal year 14% over budget. Part of that bump is coming from transient occupancy tax that is 49% up from what they predicted.

While COVID was a large part of the discussion, the speakers also talked about what’s ahead. Marchetta said three areas of focus for TRPA are housing, transportation and recreation. The whole basin needs more affordable housing, a connected public transit system and more recreation opportunities, especially after the crowding and trash issues seen at the more popular recreation areas.

Transportation and housing are front of mind for the chamber and the city as well. Both Wallace and Teshara shared excitement over the Sugar Pine Village project at the “Y” which will bring more affordable housing units. Wallace also mentioned a project through the Tahoe Conservancy, also at the “Y,” which will be deed restricted to be affordable homes for locals to buy.

Looking forward, Novasel said the county will be focusing on the results of the census and redistricting, which the state said they are expecting to start in September. While the results are not in yet, Novasel suspects her district might grow because of the growth happening in other parts of the county.

Overall, despite hardships from the panic, the community leaders were pleased with how the year went and are excited for the future of the region.

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