EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. – Each of the four candidates for El Dorado County supervisor for District V were asked the same set of 13 questions, and they have been published once per day this week in the order received. Here is the fourth and final candidate, Brooke Laine.
1. Why are you qualified to be the supervisor for District V? How long have you lived full-time in Lake Tahoe/El Dorado County?
I have lived full-time in Lake Tahoe/El Dorado County for the past 58 years, I was born here!
Having spent 10 years serving on the city council and two terms as Mayor, I am the one candidate who is already up to speed having served at some point on all of the significant agency boards (TRPA, TTD, CTC, Solid Waste JPA, Ambulance JPA, Clean Tahoe, and LAFCO). I understand how to work within our government structure to get things done for our district. I know I cannot accomplish anything by myself. It takes working together with fellow board members, even when there are disagreements, to get things done.
2. Since the Meyers, Pollock Pines, Tahoma, and South Lake Tahoe regions will be looking to you to represent them, how will you make sure your one vote on the board counts? You also need to understand the West Slope. What are their issues, such as the General Plan process, what do you agree/not agree with?
One gains respect by giving respect. Initially, I will take time to get to know the other four (4) supervisors and what their priorities and concerns are. I will also share what District V’s priorities and concerns are with the other elected officials as well as staff. Beginning the conversation and establishing relationships is the important first step. When matters of importance to District V are being considered by the Board of Supervisors, I will represent the District, explaining the importance of the matter before them and why the solution before them is the best one. Also, when issues such as transit on the west slope are being discussed, I will speak to the transit needs in District V which often are not included.
I look forward to meeting with residents and learning more about the West Slope. Agriculture and their history are very important. Quality of life and a stable economy are important. Traffic concerns and safety during the heavy weekends need to be addressed. Fire resilience and home hardening are extremely important. Lack of affordable housing is creating pressure. Homeless issues are becoming prevalent in all parts of the county and need to be addressed.
3. Do you plan to attend meetings in Placerville?
Absolutely. The county charter used to require at least one meeting in each district each year. This is now optional. Reconsidering this change would be reasonable.
4. Are you a good collaborator? Share some examples of how you’ve collaborated with others from different points of view. How important is this skill on the Board of Supervisors?
Collaboration is a necessary skill on the Board of Supervisors: without it, nothing gets accomplished.
Cannabis: When cannabis was approved by District V voters back in 2016 by 65% in favor, I was asked by the city council to lead the process for establishing the city ordinance to legalize cannabis sales in the City of South Lake Tahoe. I personally did not vote in favor of legalizing cannabis as I had serious concerns for our youth and other general concerns. As the will of the voters, however, I accepted this responsibility and moved forward.
I worked with my fellow councilmember, Tom Davis. We set up a local committee made up of 15 local citizens representing all sides of the issue. We met for over three months to establish the rules and did so using a consensus-based model. We presented our findings to the general public and then to the City Council for ratification.
5. What do you think are the biggest issues currently facing District V and El Dorado County? What are your solutions for them?
Housing has not received the attention and prioritization by the county that it needs. Affordable and workforce housing is in demand and yet there are no county projects on the horizon. One solution: The County needs to help incentivize and/or mandate that large commercial projects that gain approval must supply housing stock as a part of the project. (for example, an Amazon Fulfillment Center must provide some form of workforce/affordable housing).
Snow Removal: The equipment that the county currently owns is not suitable in the Tahoe Basin as was witnessed during the enormous snowstorm back in December. Better equipment must be obtained and more staff secured and cross-trained in order to better serve the county residents. I will be proposing an increase in the TOT (currently at 10%) to be specifically used for snow removal.
Climate Change: I will support and promote the electrification of the County Fleet in order to help decrease greenhouse gas emissions. When I was on the City Council, I sponsored the 100% renewable policy — the first city in the country to adopt such an important step toward addressing climate change. I will be a proponent of a similar policy for the county.
6. During the pandemic, the supervisors faced backlash and verbal complaints as they tried to do what was best for the community based on the direction of the health officer. What would you have done differently, if anything, and how would you have handled the discourse?
The County is responsible for funding a full-time public health official. I feel the County Board of Supervisors was correct in following the professional opinion of our public health official. Our county and the other California Counties were also following the professional opinions being directed by the State of California & the federal government.
Regarding the discourse and fallout from those decisions: This was an unprecedented time. People were scared. People were hearing differing information. All sides and opinions are important to be heard. I don’t want to be the backseat driver. We have found our way through it. Time to move on.
7. As a supervisor you will be taking roles on boards at TRPA, TTD, and the Tahoe Conservancy, among others. Tells us about your experience with these three (and others if you want to mention them) and what will you bring to the boards?
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency – Board Member 2018-2020
Tahoe Transportation District – Board Member 2018-2020
California Tahoe Conservancy – Board Member 2000-2002/Chair 2018–2020
CalTahoe JPA – Board Member 2016-2020
LAFCO – Board Member 2016-2020
Abandoned Vehicle JPA – Board Member 2016-2018
Solid Waste JPA – Board Member 1998-2002
Clean Tahoe – Board Member 1998-2002
I am an informed board member. I study the board packets, I ask questions of staff, and I keep an open mind prior to attending the board meetings. I listen to constituents during public comments and consider all opinions during deliberations.
8. If elected, how would you reach out to your constituents, why, and how often?
All phone calls and emails will be replied to within 24 hours. All requests to meet on specific issues will be honored and calendared. I will post regular office hours for constituents in the basin and constituents on the west slope. I will provide a quarterly newsletter to provide valuable information to the public.
An advisory council representing each of the eleven (11) communities will be established and I will meet at least quarterly with them to make sure I am aware of all of the issues of the day – large and small.
9. Transportation – do you understand and agree with TRPA and TTD’s Sustainable Transportation Funding Initiative and the Destination Stewardship approach?
I like the plan. Of course, a plan is only as good as its’ execution! This plan is still very much in its infancy. However, TRPA and TTD have been using grant funding for years and this has proven to be very unreliable. Finding sustainable funding is a much better long-term solution.
I really like the destination stewardship approach. Residents and visitors alike need to understand and protect this spectacular national treasure. The more knowledge we can impart and the more projects people are able to participate in will create the buy-in that we all must be involved in protecting Tahoe for generations to come.
10. Do you know what the County’s Strategic Plan is and what parts do you support/oppose?
The County’s strategic plan is rather boilerplate. However, in order to engage both the citizenry as well as county staff, I would recommend that when projects come before the board, the staff report clearly links back to the strategic plan and explains what part(s) of the plan this project affects and why. This keeps the plan at the forefront and fresh in everyone’s mind.
11. Housing – what are your plans for housing (West Slope and Tahoe Basin)? Do you agree with Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless’ plans for the HomeKey project that has bought 3 hotels to house the homeless?
Housing shortages are rampant in our county, state, and across the country. I understand the need for workforce housing, affordable housing, and smart growth for both the West Slope and the Tahoe Basin.
Local governments need to partner with private sector investors by providing incentives, mandates, land, and/or financial contributions to help create affordable workforce housing and attract necessary grant funding to secure deed restricted housing.
Repurposing dilapidated commercial properties such as hotels & motels into smaller units for long-term occupancy should always be a consideration to providing immediate housing stock.
I completely support the Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless. This is a situation that cannot be ignored and we need to work harder on bringing services such as mental health, job training, etc. to this part of the community.
12. Economic Development – how would you encourage more employees to live/work in Tahoe?
In Tahoe, we are starting to focus more on this issue. We need to provide incentives to convert old motels into better long-term housing, make it easier for multi-family projects to proceed, support mixed-use building with housing over the commercial first floor. We need to look at how the legalization of Accessory Dwelling Units will fit into our community, infrastructure, TRPA regulations, etc.
Housing has not received the attention and prioritization at the county that it needs. Affordable and workforce housing is in demand and yet there are no county projects on the horizon. One solution: The County needs to help incentivize and/or mandate that large commercial projects that gain approval must supply housing stock as a part of the project. (for example, an Amazon Fulfillment Center must provide some form of workforce/affordable housing).
13. What are your feelings about the JTC and plans to move it back to Placerville eventually?
I am very concerned about this decision. The Lake Tahoe Unified School District sold this land to the County specifically for the purpose of having a local Juvenile Detention Center to house juveniles closer to their families as well as having their legal affairs handled in a nearby court. I am concerned that the decision to move the JDC down to Placerville will separate our juvenile’s from family support that is so important in these types of situations. Juveniles also are entitled to legal representation but their representatives are in Tahoe and often unable to meet with and help their clients. There was good reason to purchase the land and build the center locally. This plan to move it needs to be reviewed.