Grasshopper Soup: Allow a vote on future plans

Bob Sweigert
Special to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE and#8212; The Tahoe City bypass, the development of Squaw Valley and Homewood, and the local population have a permanent, symbiotic relationship that must be respected. There is no doubt that, in the long run, the entire fate of Tahoe City, maybe even the entire future of the ski industry, depends on how we maintain the integrity of that symbiotic bond.

As long as the ski industry needs a work force, local communities must thrive. A Tahoe City bypass could actually close homes if it has an adverse affect on business. Local business needs a boost, not a bypass. The local economy, especially in Tahoe City, is already gasping for air. To put it more at risk is not in the best interest of anyone.

No one wants to be pessimistic, but economic depression could result from a bypass, in spite of our best projections. If that happens, future plans for the newly expanded Squaw Valley operations and the Homewood development may be in vain. The work force may not be able to afford to live here, and even business owners might have to leave.

The issue of a Tahoe City bypass and the fate of Fanny Bridge, regardless of which plan is finally implemented, matters less than the manner in which the local and state agencies, together or alone, allow the people to decide on the plan, or not.

Therein lies the real issue, in my opinion. Public input is not enough. Public control, by local people, should be the deciding factor, not the best projections of the local ski industry or the TCPUD. That means a vote.

A great deal of extensive, thoughtful hard work on everyoneand#8217;s part has gone into the whole process. There are plenty of great ideas being discussed and presented, but they have not been put to a vote, and the final decision should be up to the local people.

Why? Because the people should always come first. The effect development will have on them and the future socio-economic conditions that may result should be on us, the people. Government of the people, by the people and for the people must be assured.

Hearing from locals without letting them vote is unacceptable, in my opinion. Reliable local sources tell me that some individuals in local agencies may not want a vote by the people. If that is true, they are, in my opinion, wrong.

Obviously, deciding who should vote, and how to count votes, are decisions someone will have to make. Those decisions should be made by elected local boards, not appointed local officials, certainly not by an individual, and certainly not in private behind closed doors. But the decision to implement a bypass, or not, should be up to the people.

Future use of the recently purchased Tahoe City Golf Course by the TCPUD should also be decided by a local vote. Merely allowing public input at meetings is not enough.

All projections of possible outcomes for this symbiotic relationship should be considered.

A bypass, at the most, is only needed off and on for a total of 3 1/2 to 4 months each year. And it will have a major irreversible effect on the rural, mountain character of the area.

Improved emergency vehicle access to and from the West Shore may or may not be a good reason to do something that could harm us in other serious ways.

Nobody really knows if development in Homewood, Squaw and Tahoe City will succeed long-term or not. We should hope it does, but we must consider the very real possibility it wonand#8217;t.

The skiing will always be here. But that clearly doesnand#8217;t mean additional rooms and beds will remain full year around. If past visitor days mean anything, rooms will not remain full long enough throughout the year to support new development. Nobody really knows.

The most important thing now is to put the bypass to a vote, and abide by that vote.

If it isnand#8217;t in the works to allow a vote, then the works donand#8217;t work.

Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, former college instructor and ski instructor. He has a B.A. and an M.A.T. from Gonzaga University. He has lived at Lake Tahoe for 28 years.

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