COVID-19 Message from Supervisor Gustafson | April 10

COVID-19 Message from Supervisor Gustafson | April 10

Dear Beloved North Tahoe Community: 

KEEP IT UP!  We are doing a great job staying home and socially distancing.  The curve is flattening, non- essential trips in our County are down over 70%, according to the Unacast Social Distancing Scorecard as of today.  Facing this pandemic is very hard. It has changed everything about our lives in the last month.  So many have closed their businesses, lost their jobs, and we are all fearful about the virus and about our future.  We will have much to do when it comes time to begin recovery – but for right now, what we are doing is making a difference.  We’ve got this – keep it up!

There have been a number of residents asking what we are doing to enforce Governor Newsom’s Executive Order and Placer County’s Health Officer’s Order. 

First, public education is the most important weapon in our war against this virus.  Placer County has been very proactive, with both local media and out-of-town media, educating the public through many channels about the Orders and health recommendations.   These efforts aren’t easy given the nature of our North Tahoe community.       

Let me provide some other insights.  Over the last two decades, North Lake Tahoe has continued to lose full-time population.  Those of us who are full-time residents make up a dwindling percentage of our community. Nine out of ten homes that are sold in this area are sold to buyers who do not live here full-time.  The most recent numbers indicate 68% of the homes in our community are owned by part-time residents.  The remainder are owned or occupied by full-time residents. 

Only 13.5% of all the homes in the community are used as short-term rentals.  For short-term rentals, Placer County does have the ability to issue citations and fines for those in violation of the “non-essential” order.  At the beginning of this crisis and before petitions and social media posts, property management firms indicated guests were cancelling in large numbers, and that the property management firms were cancelling the others.  Because some of the online platforms weren’t responding as quickly as our local management firms, Placer County initiated a series of emails and a letter to all short-term rental owners.  Our hotline and enforcement personnel, as well as our online contractor Host Compliance, have been tracking and responding to reported issues.  The results have indicated continued decreased activity with the most recent reports showing less than 3% of the units are being rented and each of those has been warned, cited, or further investigated.          

While we can’t enforce restrictions on part-time residents, Placer County has notified our part-time residents about the stay home order and suggested they stay in their primary residence during this time due to our area’s limited medical resources.  The vast majority of our part-time residents haven’t been coming here during this time.   For those who are, they aren’t coming here to hurt us – they are coming here to protect themselves, their properties, and their loved ones. While we may not agree with their decisions, we must respect them as neighbors and fellow human beings. 

Some have asked about establishing “check points” to regulate travel for visitors and part-time residents.  Federal and state highways are not under local control.  Speaking with our Sheriff’s Office, they will not set up check points, but they will continue to advise all of us that we should eliminate non-essential travel due to the risk of overwhelming medical services in our communities.   They have also assured us that law enforcement is not being used in any area of California to enforce what is “essential” or “non-essential travel.” 

I want to assure you that Placer County is in daily communication with Nevada County, the State, and our hospitals to ensure that they have the resources needed as well as the plans in place to serve all our communities.  Because of Californians’ early actions, and if we continue to act responsibly, we are hopeful that our hospitals won’t experience the issues that we are witnessing in other states.  Flattening the curve is essential for all of us.           

Please remember that our community is a complicated fabric of humans and whether we know them or not, our-part time residents are not the enemy – the virus should be our focus.   Let’s be civil, caring, and supportive.  We are all in this together. 

Many experts suggest that in times of chaos we can reduce our stress levels and stay healthier by focusing on what we can control – ourselves and our own actions. 

– Stay home.

– Avoid non-essential travel.

– Socially distance.

– Wear a face covering when we leave home.

If we practice all these, it shouldn’t matter who is in the house down the street, at the grocery store, or on the trail.

And a few other suggestions:

– Care for others.

– Donate where you can.

– Volunteer.

– Support a local business.

Reach out to those who might be facing this alone.

Let’s keep it up – we are making a difference!

Cindy signature

Cindy Gustafson
Placer County District 5 Supervisor