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North Lake Tahoe

The City of South Lake Tahoe, with its 21,000 residents, lies along the SW shores of the Lake in El Dorado County. As the largest of El Dorado County's two cities and a significant cash cow for the county, it gets some respect from its Board of Supervisors. Up north, and diagonally across the Lake, are several unincorporated communities of North Lake Tahoe in Placer County. They are also cash cows for their county, but, unlike South Lake Tahoe, they don't feel the love. The Placer Board of Supervisors, you see, is all about wall-to-wall development of the Loomis Basin, on the bleeding edge of growth in the booming Sacramento Metro region over 100 miles and a massive mountain range away from the 12,000 or so North Lake locals.

Something like 15 million people visit Lake Tahoe every year, which means the area ought to have some serious urban infrastructure. It does for sewage and garbage, which must be removed from the Tahoe Basin. But for most everything else, Tahoe has an infrastructure that's more fitting for a rural area. And that has placed severe stress on local roads and the housing stock. Things were tough enough on the locals until the Pandemic came along and made those problems much worse: Bay Area techies exploited the area for remote work and Placer County responded by embracing short-term rentals (STRs). It did not take long for the locals to notice that their neighborhoods were turned into STR/Motel 6 ghettos thanks to AirB&B and VRBO. Locals' trips to the grocery store or to run other errands suddenly took hours, not minutes. Traffic on blue-bird ski days became nightmare traffic jams from Donner Summit to the Lake.

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State Highways 28 and 267 meet in Kings Beach.

Efforts to assert local control were met with hostility by Placer County, as evidenced by the corporate money and political muscle thrown against Incorporate Olympic Valley's (IOV's) valiant try for municipal self-government in 2012-2015.  Despite the State Controller's finding that Olympic Valley was on solid financial ground, the process of getting the proposed city to the ballot was too formidable a barrier. Still, IOV's effort stimulated some thinking among North Lake's residents. The momentum of the IOV campaign, coupled with some Placer County land use decisions that locals defeated in court, plus the disruption caused by the STRs, have rekindled interest in local control for the Northshore. The Tahoe Region's cities have all thrived; North Lake Tahoe is beginning to realize that it, too, can enjoy similar success as a municipality.

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