July 28, 2021

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Tahoe’s Workforce is Disappearing, As Many Can No Longer Afford to Live There

Tahoe’s Workforce is Disappearing, As Many Can No Longer Afford to Live There
200 miles east of Silicon Valley, “A disproportionate number of people who purchased homes in Tahoe in 2020 are employees of some of the largest tech companies in the Bay Area,” a real estate brokerage firm specializing in data analytics recently told Outside magazine.
Of the 2,280 new-home buyers Atlasa identified throughout the Tahoe region in 2020, roughly 30 percent worked at software companies. The top three employers were Google (54 buyers), Apple (46), and Facebook (34)… There is, however, one glaring issue with all this rapid, high-priced growth: the people who actually make a mountain town run — the ski instructors and patrollers, lift operators and shuttle drivers, housekeepers and snowcat mechanics, cooks and servers — can no longer afford to live there.
Just last year Sierra Sotheby’s found more than 2,350 homes were sold across the Tahoe Basin, for a boggling $3.28 billion (up 86% from the $1.76 billion in 2019), according to the article, which calls the popular tele-working destination a “Zoom town.”
Now the region’s heading into its summer tourist season — but “with a shorthanded workforce, businesses are unraveling,” like the restaurant that simply closed for a week because “We literally do not have enough cooks to operate…”
The evidence is showing up in the ways businesses are cutting back during the peak of the busiest time of year, a time when small business owners in Tahoe typically are trying to make as much money as possible so they can survive the slower times of year…

While the hiring crisis spans far and wide across the nation, in Tahoe, the linchpin is housing. At Tahoe Dave’s, Dave Wilderotter, the owner of Tahoe Dave’s Skis and Boards, starts his employees at $20 an hour. Most of his employees make too much money to qualify for affordable housing. But they don’t make enough money to pay Tahoe’s rent prices, which have risen by 25% to 50% in the past year. Tahoe’s workforce is disappearing because many of them cannot afford to live here any more… Making matters worse, Tahoe’s already minimal long-term rental housing stock is getting eaten up by the very hot real estate market. Many landlords are selling homes they’ve been renting to local workers, leaving those tenants without many options…

“This isn’t just tourism that’s being hit,” says Alex Mourelatos, a business owner on Tahoe’s North Shore who also serves on multiple boards for the North Tahoe Public Utility District and nonprofit groups. “It’s every service industry. Every industry across people, dentistry, legal, everything, Planned Urban Developments, all the special districts, firemen, teachers, all of them.” The hiring crisis has even affected critical services like public transportation. Bus drivers are so hard to come by that the Tahoe Transportation District made the unprecedented decision to shut down an entire bus route down the East Shore.

The district had shuttles but no one to steer the wheel.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.