El Dorado County Supervisors Forum
All the answers are posted verbatim as they were received from the Candidates. Responses are listed in alphabetical order of last name.
Please note: Candidate Curtzwiler asked that if you have an unanswered question, please contact him directly: firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-308-5265.
If you could change one thing in county government, what would it be?
Brown: Accessibility of your elected representative. I will make myself available on Saturdays for those who are unable to meet during the week. And always return phone calls and emails promptly.
Grego: The inability of government to provide the appropriate services in the appropriate time frame.
Piper: I would look to update the County Charter to impose term limits on all county elected offices not just the Supervisors.
Novasel: I would make mental health a top priority. There is a crisis, not just in our county but in all of America, in mental health care. We see more and more examples of inadequate care for citizens who need to be helped. Alarmingly, individuals with violent mental issues are the ones who end up at our children’s schools or in shoot outs in public places. All this while mental health funding has decreased and the need continues to rise. More and more, our counties have been burdened with the job of care provider and institutional manager while making due with less. We must begin to provide adequate care for this part of our society for the safety of our community and the health of these individuals. Stronger partnerships of police, health care providers and other social workers is critical. Communications between agencies need to be improved for the good of our society.
Swanson: El Dorado County has acknowledged that its internal employee culture is very troubled. This week, the Board of Supervisors approved spending up to $250,000 to implement a plan to turn-around its dysfunctional workplace through a “Respectful Workplace” training, coaching and intervention program. This is an alarming amount of money spent to correct a culture that never should have been allowed to exist. According to testimony from the consultant, citizens and employees, many employees work in fear of bullying and retribution. Without an effective workforce, the County can’t deliver vital services we need. Until the bully-boy culture is fixed, core service areas such as mental health, child protective and senior services, and economic development are severely compromised. This is a fundamental issue that must be changed immediately and without spending excessive amounts of taxpayer dollars.
What is the best way to bring together members of communities with diverse viewpoints and interests? Please provide an example when you’ve helped make this happen.
Brown: By sitting down with all sides and discuss different viewpoints and come to a collaborative solution. Without anger or raised voices. Being a skilled mediator makes a difference. Too many to list. I was able to convince 4 Board members and my Superintendent to change their views on filling a Librarian position that was about to be vacant from a retiring position. All five wanted to cut the position and share three other Librarians between four High Schools. After careful deliberation we have four spots on a 5-0 vote.
Grego: You have to begin by listening to their concerns and perspective. Then you find common ground and agree on particular goals.
During the campaign process I was invited to participate in an endorsement interview process. After completing the 10 page questionnaire, I knew that the group would not be receptive to my particular answers. At the meeting they asked me why I came. I told them that I came because my job as Supervisor will be to work with all different groups, some of whom I may not agree with, however, we need to work together to come up with the best solutions for the residents of our county. Two weeks after the interview, I received a letter of endorsement from this same group.
Piper: Provide venues for all of the members an equal opportunity to be heard so a potential common interest could be found that may bring the two factions together. When I was a member of Search and Rescue each team used to have their own club and identity and it became necessary for all of the groups to form one agency. I served on the oversight board (Search and Rescue Council) there was a great deal of issues to work through to make one cohesive group.
Novasel: The best way to bring together members of a community with diverse viewpoints is to hold a public, well-noticed “town hall” type of meeting where all sides of a controversial issue are presented and discussed. When people are educated about all sides of an issue, consensus is easier to reach. A good example is when the original Meyers Community Plan was written. There were rumors and false information circulating at first. Once all members of the community were properly educated on the facts the Plan was adopted and our community was very pleased.
Swanson: The Loop Road (Hwy 50 Realignment) project is an example of both good and bad process for bringing diverse communities and interests together. After 30 years of discussion and debate, the project took off when planning and environmental funding was secured. Staff geared up and began work relying on the planning documents and data assembled over many years and in a very different economic reality. The public and the City bridled at what seemed to be a ‘done deal’. As the City’s representative on the Tahoe Transportation District (TTD) board, I pushed the staff to slow down, explore additional project alternatives, hold a series of workshops with the property owners and residents, and then expand and validate the work to date in series of facilitated meetings with a diverse community panel. This course correction has turned around perception of the Loop Road project. And, while all are not in agreement, the project has transparency, input and buy-in from the key interest groups.
What is your view of development in the shore zone? Do you support more or fewer piers, buoys, boat ramps, houses, etc.?
Brown: As a County Supervisor my jurisdiction would be the unincorporated shore line North on 89. Scenic Beauty and Environmental sustainability would be my first concern with any addition to these areas. I think it would be hard to make a case for more of those in the areas of the County.
Grego: While I am a strong supporter of private property rights – the lake is not private property. As with all development, buoys and piers should be kept within reasonable bounds. As far as houses on the shorezone, if a person owns property on the lakeshore, they should be able to build within the parameters of the planning documents. They should not lose their property rights simply because they own on the shoreline.
Piper: I do not support further congestion of the shore zone. I would only support repair of the existing structures and removal if the structures become abandoned or un-repairable.
Novasel: Shore zone development must be controlled. One of the roles of the TRPA is to control scenic thresholds throughout the Tahoe Basin. Piers, buoys, boat ramps and houses can have negative impacts on our scenery as well as the health of our lake. There are rules and regulations set forth through the new Regional Plan Update (RPU) of TRPA’s Regional Plan which address some of these thresholds and other regulations that still need to be reviewed by the planning agency. I support the RPU and the thresholds contained within it.
Swanson: I support maintaining as much public and open space as possible around the shore zone. One of the big benefits to life on the South Shore is the amount of public access we have to Tahoe’s beaches. Where there is development, it should be approved in a fair and transparent manner and deliver value to the public. I am somewhat comfortable with public benefit projects that have been discussed, as long as there is a clear public benefit. These include the potential rebuild of the pier at Lakeview Commons and the ferry project at the Ski Run Marina. I am less comfortable with expansion of private piers, buoys and home development. It should be easier to get a deck built in Meyers than it is to expand and increase construction activity in the shore zone.
Everyone agrees that jobs are needed for economic health in El Dorado County. What specifically is your plan to create more jobs?
Brown: I would work with all our regional partners to achieve a shared vision of economic sustainability. I will be creating an economic advisory group for the Basin. The County has an Advisory Group which currently does not have representation from the Basin. I would change that as well.
Grego: We need to make working with the government more business friendly. As I have already discussed with our new Economic Development Department, we need to be prepared in the future for many changes in industries.
Piper: I would look to improve the infrastructure to attract business’s that will provide living wage jobs. Specifically look to attract a dot com business in the Tahoe basin that would open a full campus. In the Camino/ Pollock Pines are revive the old mill with an industrial plant that will also provide living wage jobs. Also require public works projects to hire a percentage of local workers.
Novasel: Jobs are created when there is growth in business. I support the County’s General Plan and TRPA’s RPU which address smart growth throughout our district. We need to promote our year-round recreation-based economy and I will work to improve relationships between West Slope and Tahoe Basin recreation providers in order to create more jobs. The Recreation Master Plan currently in process between the City of South Lake Tahoe and the County identifies needs and opportunities - and must be implemented.
Basic infrastructure also needs addressing. Web-based businesses have created new employment opportunities in which tele-commuters can work for large companies from their homes in Tahoe. This makes basic broadband access critical. I plan to create a workshop on internet service in order to identify and create a plan to improve internet access.
Business incentives to spur new business and promote job creation must also help dissolve barriers to small businesses that want to locate within our county. These businesses are the backbone to our workforce and our county should provide them help to become successful employers of our unemployed citizens by offering training and assistance by lowing start-up fees.
Swanson: Jobs and Economic Development are hands-down our most pressing issues. I will pursue a three-fold strategy that start with stabilizing and expanding existing business, giving them incentives to grow and/or build. We must build on these strengths particularly in the areas of agri-tourism and eco-tourism, cultivating a well rounded product in those industries. Incentives that get government red tape ‘out of the way’ and enhance zoning are so often the missing ingredients to existing business expansion. They are also key to my approach to growing new business.
Second, El Dorado County must develop the infrastructure necessary to draw new economic growth. That infrastructure begins with adequate cell and broadband coverage, continues into recreational facilities including bike paths and continues with road improvements. Businesses seeking new locations want to move to attractive communities with high quality housing stock at a variety of price points, good schools and a technological and physical infrastructure capable of supporting their operational needs. We lag behind in these areas. We must not be afraid to invest in ourselves. I’ve watched District 5 suffer for years because public and private owners have failed to maintain their assets.
Third, use the resources of the county’s Economic Development Division and jobs creation network, Sierra Economic Development Corporation (SEDCorp) to recruit new business. I would harness these resources using a model that has worked well nearby. While working in the design/construction industries in 1990’s Sacramento, I was very impressed by the accomplishments made by SACTO (Sacramento Area Commerce & Trade Organization) to draw new businesses into the region. Working with the Metro Chamber and City/County government, major players in tech, manufacturing and retail were drawn to the region. A similar effort needs to be implemented in El Dorado County if we are to expand our employment base. This effort needs to link the Chamber resources with public sector in partnership to create new economic opportunities. This effort begins by identifying what industry sectors we wish to draw to El Dorado County, performing a SWOT type analysis then implementing plans to market the identified targets.
If elected, how will you keep in touch with voters and residents in District 5?
Brown: I have already stated many times that on key issues where the public needs to be notified I would do it through the mail box. I would have regular public meetings in multiple locations throughout our District for citizens to come bring me their thoughts and ideas.
Grego: I have already joined the Camino-Pollock Pines Community Center as I believe that I will be having meetings there on a regular basis for those who want to stay in touch with local government. I would like to do the same thing in Meyers, perhaps at either the fire station, park or the CCC building.
Piper: Utilize an email bulletin board to anyone who wishes to participate regarding agenda items and votes that affect the district as well as issues that are county wide that would also have an indirect impact on the district. Also hold monthly regular meetings in the district so all residents can have a voice regarding District 5 and the rest of the county.
Novasel: I would attend community meetings in all of District V, including any area plan meetings, local Chamber of Commerce meetings, and other local organizations and events that affect our communities. These meetings would be in addition to being sure that my office did a very good job of setting up the annual “town hall” meetings. This would include meetings in Tahoma, Pollack Pines, Meyers and in the City of South Lake Tahoe, where county services and issues could be discussed and addressed. I also plan to develop an on-line newsletter that describes actions and decisions which affect specific areas within District V, in order to keep our community abreast of current issues.
Swanson: Maintaining an open and responsive dialogue with the residents of District 5 is a core principle. That means I will keep an open door and regular office hours for constituents to come in. More importantly, I will continue to do what I have always done, go to the people. I will attend community events, sit in regularly on group meetings – from Kiwanis to the sustainability collaborative, to high school civics classes to senior centers and coffee shops – in all segments of the district. I’ve always had touchstones in the community who give me advice on city issues. I intend to expand that base to ensure I am hearing from all sides on the issues. Additionally, I commit to being the first Supervisor who Tweets, posts on Facebook, publishes a regular e-newsletter and blogs regularly on community issues. I’ve had a Facebook page for over a year for City Council. As Supervisor, I will continue the same practices.
How will you resist pressure from Nevada economic interests and west slope developments for excessive development?
Brown: I am pro jobs. I would support development that first ensures environmental protection, provides for true public benefit, and creates long term sustainable living wage jobs.
Grego: By making their agendas made public early in the process, working with local groups to get the word out and participate in particular meetings.
Piper: One can resist pressure from and entity by not becoming beholden to them.
Novasel: TRPA’s new Regional Plan Update is a solid plan for future growth within the Tahoe basin. I believe that this plan best represents smart growth with environmental protections that properly balance the need for business growth with the desire for keeping our lake blue and beautiful.
Swanson: My vote is my own. It does not belong to any economic interest. My track record as a city council member shows that independence. I strive to be fair, consistent and reasonable. I make decisions based on three criteria – 1) was the project/issue treated fairly and consistently by staff? (no favors) 2) if so, does it meet city and TRPA requirements? And 3) does it improve the quality of life, the economy, or the environment? With this framework for decision-making, I have been able to withstand pressure from all types of interest groups.
District 5 covers a diverse range of communities stretching from Pollock Pines through South Lake Tahoe and onto Meeks Bay. What qualities will you bring to the role of supervisor to make sure all communities are properly represented?
Brown: I am the only candidate who speaks to “Uniting Our Communities”. I have a long history of representing all that I am elected or appointed to. I am able to find the common ground that unites us, and still defend and support our unique differences.
Grego: I am a good listener and a bridge builder.
Piper: I will do my best to be sure to appoint a member of each community to one of the many committees that serve under the supervisor so there is equal representation.
Novasel: An important duty of the District V supervisor is to assure fair representation. By having a strong voice – a strong supervisor – who has a track record of getting things done while treating others fairly and with honor, our district will be properly represented. I will listen to all community members throughout District V. I will insist on good processes so that I can make decisions based on the facts of any issue. I will insist on mutual respect for all citizens. These are qualities that I bring to the table. And these qualities will ultimately increase my effectiveness for proper representation of all citizen living within District V.
Swanson: The ability to travel well and often! It is essential that our Supervisor is willing to venture regularly into all corners of the district. My career has always demanded travel and immersing myself into new communities. As a board member with the Tahoe Transportation District and the California Tahoe Conservancy, I’ve learned much about South Lake Tahoe’s neighbors around the Basin, and worked collaboratively to achieve shared goals like bike paths, environmental and road improvements. We all succeed together is my philosophy. That mindset is what will allow me to represent my dynamic and varied district properly.
What is your position as Proposition 42?
Brown: After reading the text, I find no provision for enforcement or compliance of the Existing Public Records Act, and the Ralph M. Brown Act, Which are both law and legislative bodies are already required to comply with. This in my opinion only forces the local agencies to pay for costs associated with current law, shifting from the State. It is a cost saving measure for the state. http://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_42_%282014%29,_Full_Text_of_Constitutional_Changes
Grego: One of the biggest problems in our government is that we have too many restrictions on what we do and how we do it. We need to elect people to office who will make reasonable decisions based on the good of the whole – and not re-elect the same people who choose to vote for special interests. While I have no problem with that money going to highways – we certainly need more road work completed – however, I do not believe we should push ourselves into a corner saying that that is all that it can be used for.
Piper: I support the proposition for its right for public access but question the validity of the costs associated with it.
Novasel: Records state: “The state generally must pay local governments for their costs when it increases their responsibilities--a requirement that state officials consider when reviewing proposals that increase local government costs. Under current law, the state must pay local governments for their costs to implement certain parts of the Public Records Act (such as the requirement to assist members of the public seeking records and to tell individuals seeking records whether the records can be provided). The amount of money the state owes local governments for their Public Records Act costs is not known yet, but is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars annually.” I am fundamentally opposed to unfunded state mandates which impose extraordinary stress to local budgets, thereby denying local agencies to properly fund much-needed local programs and public services (see my first answer about mental health). There needs to be a law which requires local conformance while requiring the state to continue to pay for this mandate.
Swanson: I have always supported and believe in the Brown Act and the California Public Record Acts. The public should have access to government documents and public meetings at all times. Proposition 42 will make sure access to these documents is not a discretionary item that can be withheld as a cost cutting move. Without access to open meetings and public records our government can not be transparent.
Tell us about the County Supervisors role in the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency?
Brown: I have answered this question clearly multiple times. In print and at forums. In fact I was the only candidate who read and understands the Compact. The position should be filled by a qualified person with no agenda, who represents the best interests of the Basin and the residents, period. I personally believe it would be too easy for a conflict of interest to arise on an issue between the County and TRPA. The TRPA should have the best possible representation.
Grego: No different than in any other agency – to represent the needs and desires of those whom they represent, while keeping an eye on the bigger picture. We need to work closely with our neighbors, state and counties to not only protect our lake but to see that our methods are sustainable.
Piper: By having a seat on the TRPA this ensures an active voice for all the members of our district to be sure we are fairly represented and heard.
Novasel: El Dorado County has a seat on the TRPA governing board which carries with it a huge responsibility for bi-state governance and regulations for the entire Tahoe basin. This seat has always been filled by the El Dorado County Supervisor who represents South Lake Tahoe. This is arguably the most important seat that our Supervisor holds. The TRPA has the ultimate responsibility for all land-use, environmental thresholds and scenic requirements and regulations. Having a seat on this board should not be passed on to anyone other than our local Supervisor, in my opinion, due to its powerful impact upon our citizens, business and our every-day life in the Tahoe basin.
Swanson: The Supervisor is 1 of 14 voting members of the Governing Board, representing a local jurisdiction. It is without doubt the most important activity for the Supervisor as far as the Basin goes. Historically, El Dorado County’s board of supervisors has accorded Tahoe’s supervisor much latitude in policy and voting. This gives the El Dorado County representative an opportunity for greater leadership than is possible from other local government agencies. As TRPA takes on issues such as the retirement of Tourist Accommodation Units (TAUs), resolve residential allocations and hydrological boundaries, the Supervisor will play a key role in determining economic development policy for the next 20 years.
Would you support El Dorado County buying the South Lake Tahoe Airport back from the City? What do you think is the best use of the Airport property?
Brown: Well currently the City has remodeled the terminal into offices and occupies these offices. When they moved there they gave up paying rent at their old offices, which was quite costly. So if the county purchased the Airport the City would again have to pay rent or move. So that is something to consider. I would have to do more research into the viability of re-opening commercial service as an economic engine for the Basin.
Grego: I doubt that they would want it as it is quite costly. The best use of the airport would be as an airport with a commercial airline. While I don’t see that happening in the near future, it should be used for events to enrich the lives of people and businesses in our community.
Piper: I would like the City or the County to make the airport fully functioning with a regular passenger flight schedule.
Novasel: The City of South Lake Tahoe purchased the airport for $1 many years ago when its usefulness and value was seen more as a liability than an asset. Although today many people feel it could become a viable commercial aviation center, past experience and a recent city survey indicate that without $1 - $2 million in local subsidies annually, the airport could not survive. The drain on our county could have an equally negative impact on our already depleted funding sources. I believe that, for the near future, the best use for the airport is to continue its successful use as a private/charter small aircraft center under the care of the City of South Lake Tahoe.
Swanson: I would not lead an effort for the County to take over the airport. I will remain an active participant in the Airport Master Plan update process going on now. The County can and should be an active partner in evaluating how and where the airport fits into the Basin’s long range success. Also, if we are to reduce the Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and improve air quality, the airport will play an important role in delivering visitors to and from the Basin. It is unrealistic to expect the airport to be dismantled. The FAA repayment penalties alone are in the multi-millions.
Please describe you vision of Meyers in the next 10-20 years?
Brown: Self determination. I would support the Board of Supervisors passing a resolution to form a Community Services District. It is the citizens of Meyers vision that matters. I want what is best for them. And I am convinced that forming a Community Services District will help them take control of their future. I would help in every way I can.
Grego: Bus stops going out to 89 in Christmas Valley, as well as walking/biking paths that connect to various points of interest. Two different points to cross the highway without taking your life in your hands and without interrupting the flow of traffic, which can be brutal. I also want to help facilitate more activities and amenities at Paradise Park. New businesses in the empty buildings which have been cleaned up and now look welcoming.
Piper: This would not be my vision but the collective vision of the residents of Meyers.
Novasel: I have lived in Meyers (Christmas Valley) for over 30 years. As a member of the original Meyers Community Plan team, I helped develop a plan for the future of Meyers. After nearly 4 years of work on the plan, we succeeded in having the power lines lining Highway 50 buried, thereby improving the scenic corridor of the area. We worked on other ideas to improve the corridor that included: adding a chain-up/rest area to help relieve Sunday congestion; creating a new “Welcome to Meyers” sign to give travelers a sense of arrival; using an incentive program to create new town centers; and adding design elements to give our community a rustic, alpine appearance.
The new Meyers plan is similar to our original plan. But there is still work to be done on the plan – there are differences that need to be discussed and either approved by our community or changed. Meetings need to include all stakeholders and be properly noticed so that the Meyers community can have a proper voice in planning the future of their community. The most important part of planning is implementation. I will make sure that the new Meyers Area Plan, along with all community plans throughout District V, have the ability to be implemented properly for the next 10 – 30 years by having county staff available and willing to help our residents create the vision that they see for their communities.
Swanson: It’s not my vision of Meyers that counts – it’s the residents’ collective vision that should happen over the next 10-20 years. I hear from residents of Meyers that the vision is a still-rural community that embraces an outdoor lifestyle with easy access to bike paths and trails, and year round recreation in the mountains. They also say that future Meyers should have a central gathering place or places, a small but vibrant commercial strip with a few good restaurants, limited retail and commercial space.
The residents will finally have a means to cross 50 without taking their lives in their hands and the Tveeten property will be a park space. Hopefully, somewhere outside central Meyers there will be a world class outdoor environmental education and activities center.
How as supervisor will you help the county to both enforce and comply with El Dorado County and TRPA policy?
Brown: As supervisor my job would be to enforce County Policy. We have one seat out of fifteen on the TRPA, fourteen voting. Our job is to support the Compact and work with the TRPA within the boundaries of El Dorado County and the 5th District. Forging strong partnerships leads to better collaboration on issues of compliance and enforcement.
Grego: TRPA should enforce their own policies. The county has more than enough to do without being mandated to do more. We need to spend our time, money and efforts on serving the people of our community in safety, mental health etc.,
Piper: By fulfilling all of the duties as the elected District 5 Supervisor.
Novasel: The County Master Plan and TRPA’s Regional Plan Update includes incentives and processes that can spur businesses to redevelop run-down properties or add new businesses to our communities while improving our environment. As the County takes more responsibility to implement TRPA regulations, I would like to see a permanent County Planner brought back to the Tahoe basin, as was the case in the late 1970’s. This would not only help with enforcement of regulations and ordinances but also improve the plan approval processes as well.
Swanson: It is my impression that County planning and public works staff work well with TRPA staff and vice versa. That means that both sets of regulation are enforced in the Basin.
The key to successful enforcement is that the staff must be empowered to enforce the regulations without fear of interference by elected. Code enforcement has improved greatly in the City because we’ve changed our culture to empower staff this way. My larger concern as Supervisor is avoiding projects like the Road Runner canopy that is so out of keeping with the environment we’re trying to create in Meyers. The project slipped through because it met all County codes and TRPA’s yet it is aesthetically offputting.
What do you think about the current conditions and status of our roads throughout the region?
Brown: Our roads need much improvement throughout our region. We need to work to eliminate gridlock as well.
Grego: They are a few decades behind on maintenance.
Piper: The road maintenance throughout the region has suffered since losing our logging revenue. Logging paid for our schools and roads. The county has not done an adequate job of finding new funding for our roads.
Novasel: Our roads are some of the worst in California. Funding priorities must be set and timelines for completion must be worked on in order for roads to be improved to acceptable standards. I have not seen a timeline for such work and, once in office, would insist that proper schedules be set immediately in order to assure proper work is done in a timely manner.
Swanson: Our roads are in deplorable condition and receive too small a piece of the county’s public works pie.
What would your position be if a ‘catalyst’ type project was proposed for Meyers?
Brown: I would only support projects that fit the Meyers residents vision for Meyers. Projects that provide public benefit. I have addressed Meyers and what I think about the residents being able to have self determination on their future.
Grego: The plans for the Meyers area should reflect what the community wants – not what the planners see as the newest and greatest. Why have plans if they are not what we want? I know they are required by law – but I would hope the original intention was to build a community in a manner that was organized and effective.
Piper: I do not support the ‘catalyst’ type project.
Novasel: Meyers residents have made it very clear that we do not want a large, expansive “catalyst” project in Meyers, such as proposed by a planner this last year. I am opposed to such a project because it does not make sense for Meyers and our vision of a rural, small commercial corridor. Modifications to the new Meyers Plan Update should be made immediately to ensure that community voices are heard and proposed density and height changes are taken out of the new plan. Only then will our community in Meyers trust that the catalyst project is truly “dead”.
Swanson: Meyers residents are clear that they do not want a ‘catalyst’ project now. I don’t see one happening in the future either.
What are your plans, if any, to implement bus service throughout the region, particularly to neighboring counties like Alpine?
Brown: To implement bus service to a neighboring county would have to be a collaborative effort. This is more than a simple answer.
Grego: I have no plans for Alpine. If we were to consider service to neighboring areas it would have to be proved that it would be worth the cost for the amount of ridership. Our transportation systems have mostly been failures when it comes to providing for themselves. I am on the Regional Coordinating Council, trying to find ways to get those with limited abilities to vital services and it is a struggle to find appropriate services for needs. We are making progress though.
Piper: Providing bus service on a regular schedule would be cost prohibitive but a dial a ride service could be more realistic.
Novasel: Public transportation is an important component to making communities bikeable and walkable. I support researching transit options to all neighboring communities within and outside of the Tahoe basin.
Swanson: Bus service can be implemented in Meyers and the region, but only if new sources of revenue are pledged to make service viable and supportable. Expansion plans should address connecting to Placerville where constituents need to access many social and medical services. My goal is to make public transit free to the user using a combination of public and private financing.
In the event of a major catastrophe within the Bay Area and residents fled to El Dorado County what is your strategy for an emergency/disaster plan?
Brown: We at the Board of Supervisors work directly with the Sheriff’s Office and Office of Emergency Services to formulate that plan. There is already one in place as I have been to a presentation in the Sheriff’s Office relating to that plan. That is a multi agency collaboration. One Supervisor does not come up that strategy.
Grego: There would be a lot of open land where we would be able to put up Red Cross Shelters on the west end of the County. My bigger concern is for a wildfire in our populated areas. I recently attended an emergency plan meeting in Pollock Pines, and have spoken with our City’s fire chief regarding the evacuation of the disabled. Preparation is key to weathering any storm.
Piper: I would consult with our county office of emergency services to be sure they are up and functioning with the county disaster plan and make sure they have all of the resources necessary to serve our county residents and the visitors who come to our county for help.
Novasel: After the Angora Fire, many of our local emergency agencies came together to develop plans for disasters and emergencies. These first responders such as fire, police, sheriff, CHP and others collaborate to plan strategies for many different scenarios. Although I am not aware of any such plans should the Bay Area residents need assistance from El Dorado County, I am sure that the Emergency Response Teams that have been developed would be prepared to help in many instances.
Swanson: I would rely on the expertise of our first responders in the Basin and El Dorado County to provide an integrated response that provides for traffic control, emergency shelter, rescue teams deployment to the Bay Area and public safety inspections of facilities in El Dorado County. We’d be likely to experience some damage in case of a large event in the Bay Area. I’ve served 4 years on the board overseeing our EMS services. As a result, I know that our teams are highly skilled and trained to work in collaboration with other agencies and FEMA.
Do you live in the unincorporated area of South Tahoe or in the City of South Lake Tahoe, and why did you choose to live where you do?
Grego: I live in the city limits on Gardner Mountain. We wanted to live in the city because they have better snow removal service than the county.
Piper: I live in the City of South Lake Tahoe because of the location.
Novasel: I have lived in the unincorporated area of Meyers (Christmas Valley) for over 30 years. I love the beauty and serenity of the Tahoe Basin and, because of that, have no plans to ever live anywhere else.
Swanson: I live in the Bijou neighborhood of the City of South Lake Tahoe. My family fell in love with the older neighborhood, the Bijou Meadow, convenient access to bus service our little cul de sac.
All things considered, are vacation rentals good for neighborhoods, or not, and why?
Brown: Not when they outnumber the actual residents who live in any given neighborhood. The users can be loud and disturb the otherwise peaceful neighborhood. So no they are not necessarily good.
Grego: It is a double edged sword. On the one hand they provide little year round obligations to our service providers, but they also provide less business to our local economy. As I mentioned before, I am a strong proponent of individual property rights, and as such, the property owners can do with their property what they like within the confines of our laws. The biggest problem I see with vacation rentals is the disturbance they create in the neighborhoods. For the most part the rules are not being enforced and needs to be.
Piper: Anytime a business is operating in a residential neighborhood that creates noise and traffic there will be conflict with the neighbors. This makes it difficult for neighborhoods to be harmonious. This would also affect resale value of the neighboring homes.
Novasel: Vacation rentals serve a useful purpose to our community by offering tourists viable accommodation options. However, the county has rules and regulations that are not being enforced. The County’s vacation rental ordinance was largely modeled after the one developed, after much effort, by the City of South Lake Tahoe. The structure for an effective ordinance is there. As to enforcement, there has to be an active, monitored, and enforced registration system, which is currently lacking. The result is a lot of lost revenue, and owners of homes used as vacation rentals who don’t know the standards or regulations to which they are expected to operate.
Neighborhoods should not be subjected to loud or crowded rental groups which impact our communities. In order to keep the peace, code enforcement officers need to make sure that vacation rentals throughout the county are registered and monitored so that rules and regulations are upheld.
Swanson: Vacation rentals are a part of life in a resort community. They provide a valuable form of lodging for visitors that provide a more ‘local like’ experience. We’ve experienced the downside of vacation rentals in part because the economic slowdown in Tahoe forced full-time residents out, making too many homes available for investors and part-time residents. Many neighborhoods lost a healthy balance between full-time and part-time occupancy. The key to making them a positive influence on a neighborhood is good management and supervision from County building and law enforcement officers. Lax enforcement leads to noise, parking, and garbage problems that disrupt neighborhoods.