My Turn: Regional Plan Update – economic sustainability at Tahoe? |

My Turn: Regional Plan Update – economic sustainability at Tahoe?

Ellie Waller
Special to the Sun

TAHOE VISTA, Calif. – True redevelopment is a good idea, but adding hundreds of new units and hundreds of thousands of square feet of new development is just more development without any concept of true economic sustainability.

Where is the economic study? All we get is marketing studies, which is a sloppy way to bypass really knowing what our economy is. Economic models are just that – models, the specific requirements for proven success have not been identified. Is relying on more real estate development and begging for jobs from the ski industry the answer to our economic woes?

The Regional Plan Update is based on marketing studies using large scale hotels and large new tourist high rise areas as a basis for more development.

Can you tell me just how many living wage jobs will be created with the new development envisioned with this Regional Plan Update? A majority of the new jobs will likely be minimum wage, minimum hours related to services and retail and short-lived construction jobs.

The Regional Plan Update is a developer’s dream, with many incentives to entice the companies like Vail Resorts and other out-of-basin corporations to purchase and build within the Basin.

Examples of the Regional Plan incentives that encourage building without how it impacts jobs in the long run are many. For example: Transfer of Development Rights program – if you sell your cabin to a developer and he or she tears it down and restores the site, the developer could receive the right to build up to six new units in Kings Beach, Tahoe City or Incline Village; if you own and tear down 350 square-foot motel units, you can build a hotel/timeshare with 1,200-1,800 sq. ft. units; even better, you can now develop pristine open space with new homes, condos, hotel and commercial buildings.

Economic sustainability is not based on overloading each small community with services, too many timeshare units or tourist shopping districts.

We cannot control the weather or the economic climate – these are global systemic problems not just isolated to the Lake Basin or region. For comparison, consider how often weather forecasts are correct.

The Regional Plan Update is too experimental and our basin too fragile to risk for more ski villages and over-developed town centers. The Regional Plan is a radical departure from the current plan and will create a radical change in the Tahoe Basin forever changing its future.

Ellie Waller is a Tahoe Vista resident.

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