Eastern District 5 Bulletin | August 3

Eastern District 5 Bulletin | August 3

The six weeks between the beginning of July into early August are traditionally our busiest time of the year in Eastern Placer County and this year part-time residents and visitation numbers may even be higher. We may also experience these higher occupancy numbers for a longer period of time this year, given changes in school schedules and workplace telecommuting allowances due to COVID-19.

Many people I hear from express their concerns that “outsiders” of any kind – part-time residents, overnight and day visitors – are exacerbating the spread of COVID-19 in our community.   Although we can contract the virus from any infected person we come into contact with, contact tracing efforts indicate that family gatherings of local residents remain the greatest source of transmission.   I urge you to review the reports that are published by Placer County, Nevada County and Tahoe Forest Hospital.  While the virus will continue to spread until we reach “herd immunity” through exposure and hopefully vaccination, our numbers in Eastern Placer have not grown in proportion to occupancy and visitation.  

Recent information shows we are averaging approximately one new case per day (see chart below).   These new cases bring our Eastern Placer total infections since March to somewhere between 0.3-0.5% of our total population. 

Despite increases in occupancy by part-time residents and visitors, our growth rate is below the other areas of Placer County.

Cases summarized by date of receipt with the exception of 14-day case rate, which is calculated by date of specimen collection to more closely align with CDPH reporting.*The 14-day case rate per 100,000 is the sum of new cases with specimens collected in the past 14 days per 100,000 residents (e.g., total new cases by specimen collection date for past 14 days/398,843 *100,000 for the County). This figure is lagged by 3 days as new cases continue to be received. Note: North Tahoe population used is year-round census population. Created 7/31/20 by Placer County Public Health

COVID-19 is a serious threat and we must stay focused on slowing the spread.  Physical distancing and face-coverings continue to be the best advice for protecting yourself and your loved ones. 

With that high level of occupancy and visitation, I continue to receive many emails, calls, and social media posts with suggestions and stronger, that Placer County shut down certain businesses and lodging, and/or close Tahoe to outside visitors. One of the things that makes the Tahoe area such a desirable place to live is that we are surrounded by public land. This is also what makes the Tahoe area such a desirable place to visit, and the County cannot prevent the public from using federal and state highways to access these public lands.  Federal and state funding and resources have been heavily invested in our region for the benefit of visitors as well as local residents.  We cannot take action on our own without the support of State and Federal leaders.  The only action the County could take would be enacting ordinances and restrictions that would close the businesses and services local residents rely on to make a living and try to carry on with daily life.  Any action at the County level would need to be based on evidence directly tied to the source and fortunately at this point we are not seeing a spread of the virus commensurate with the exceedingly high visitation levels.  Such action would also require a majority vote of the Board of Supervisors and we would consult with law enforcement and our District Attorney to ensure that they could and would enforce such closures. 

In our free society, law enforcement resources focus on a very small percentage of the population. We maintain peace and order because the vast majority of people are following the law.  As a nation, we do not staff law enforcement at the levels that would be required to enforce every ordinance and law for every incident of violation.  The Placer County Sheriff is an independently elected official dedicated to serving the community under local, state and federal laws.   Under the Sheriff’s direct authority, the Sheriff’s Office provides law enforcement services based on the highest priorities for public protection and safety.   While behaviors of some are very troubling and need to be addressed, the Sheriff’s Office must be trusted to focus on the greatest risks to overall public safety. 

Understanding that we can’t enforce our way out of some of the issues we are facing, many organizations and volunteers have recognized that expanding the focus of education efforts is the best way to let visitors know how to safely and respectfully enjoy the Tahoe area. Many local groups have come together to create public education campaigns on COVID-19, stewardship of the environment, and being a “good neighbor”.    The Take Care Tahoe program evolved a number of years ago to educate the public on stewardship of the region’s environment.   The incredible efforts of the 45 public and non-profit organizations participating in the Take Care program are remarkable, and have now been expanded to include efforts to educate on COVID-19, with a series of billboards, signs, and information directed to those visiting the region.  In addition, Placer County created the “Good Neighbor” campaign focused on short-term rental issues in the community.  Repeated messaging to owners, posting of Good Neighbor policies, and a 24/7 hotline have assisted our enforcement efforts.   Placer County and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association have also worked closely to develop the Stronger Together, Know Before You Go, and Mask Up Tahoe campaigns, focused on educational messaging.   

We are also currently developing an Ambassador program in partnership with the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association to address issues we are witnessing throughout the community. Volunteers can help with visitor and community education, trash pickup, distribution of face coverings and hand sanitizer and more. If you’re interested in participating, please contact Erin Casey with the County Executive Office in Tahoe at 530-369-1950 or ecasey@placer.ca.gov for details.

I appreciate the many suggestions and questions.  I can’t possibly respond to each one but am trying to use these bulletins to explain the issues and questions that are most frequently raised.

Stay safe, physically distance, be considerate to all, use a face-covering, and help educate everyone in our community.  

Please don’t hesitate to contact my office if you have questions or need any assistance with County issues or concerns.

-Cindy Gustafson, District 5 Supervisor


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Placer County approves new rebate program for lodging projects

The Placer County Board of Supervisors approved a new transient occupancy tax rebate program intended to spur investment in lodging projects in North Lake Tahoe. Learn more


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The California Department of Public Health released additional guidance this week for some personal services to begin outdoor operations; including hair, massage, nail and skin care services. They also offered new guidance to help restaurants adapt to providing outdoor dining service. Find all the latest reopening guidance on our Reopen Placer website



Contact information:

 175 Fulweiler Ave., Auburn, CA 95603 

Supervisor Cindy Gustafson: cindygustafson@placer.ca.gov

District Director Lindsay Romack: lromack@placer.ca.gov

District Aide Kelly McCaughna: kmccaughna@placer.ca.gov

Temporary Assistant District Aide Judy Friedman: jfriedman@placer.ca.gov