My Turn | Regional Plan Update: I vote for no project
Special to the Sun
KINGS BEACH, Calif. and#8212; Recently the TRPA released its proposed plan(s) for development in the Tahoe Basin over the next 20 years. It is a 780-page document that very few people will read and is obviously not designed to provide accessible information on proposed projects to locals.
When Tahoe locals are unhappy with the changes that the TRPA has instigated in our communities, their response will be, and#8220;Well, we made our proposal public and everyone had the chance to view it.and#8221; What they are really hoping for is that nobody will read the proposal and consequently oppose it due to lack of knowledge.
So, on behalf of the real local community who is too busy to read a 780-page paper, Iand#8217;d like to ask a few questions of the TRPA that matter to me as a North Lake resident. I challenge any representative from the TRPA to answer the following questions in simple language, if they really feel confident that proposed development is actually good for our communities.
Question 1: Who is going to pay for all this development? Locals? Taxpayers? To me, it doesnand#8217;t make a lot of sense to sink a great deal of money into development without considering where the revenue to pay it off is going to come from. Also, if development is paid for by out-of-town investors (as much of it almost certainly would be) where would the profits go? Does it really serve our communities to sell our land to out-of-towners for development in the hopes that it will generate a few minimum wage jobs?
Question 2: What are the true environmental impacts? Maybe you have been to the beach over the past few years and noticed an increase in the amounts of algae and plastic in the lake. The TRPA claims to and#8220;cooperatively lead the effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe region now and in the future.and#8221; How does plunking down a Northstar-style village at Homewood help to preserve the natural environment of Lake Tahoe? Increased tourist traffic is the number one contributor source of chemicals in the Lake, subsequent algal blooms, and loss of clarity. It is widely recognized that the development of the 1960s Olympic era has been one of the major contributors to environmental degradation of the lake. So, tell me TRPA, how does proposing similar development on the somewhat undeveloped West Shore serve your mission of and#8220;preserving our natural environmentand#8221;?
Question 3: What impacts can I expect to my quality of life while this development is going on? The current road constructions make travel between towns on the North Shore difficult, and when summer tourists arrive it becomes downright dangerous. In the past year a young boy was struck by a tourist in Kings Beach, and two locals were killed at a pedestrian crosswalk in Incline Village. The proposed development and its desired tourist influx will only exacerbate these problems, and putting in a few roundabouts wonand#8217;t fix them. For locals this means that we have to worry about the safety of our children and families while tourist-centered development goes on in our communities.
Question 4: How will this proposed development benefit locals in our communities? Minimum wage resort-style job creation is not a sustainable economic policy. These jobs pay just enough for a transient person to eke out a living for a season or two and then leave. How does that build strong communities in our region?
We all want to see job growth in our community. We all want to see safe streets and buildings that arenand#8217;t falling apart, but blind corporate development is not the way. We should invest in locally owned and operated businesses that serve the real needs of people in our communities, instead of investing in massive, environmentally hazardous projects that only serve tourists and out-of-town investors. Tahoe deserves better than that. We as locals are better than that. These projects are not about preservation, they are about the exploitation of us and our natural resources. The best way to preserve our resources is to invest locally, work locally, and think locally.
Lastly, let us not look at this proposal as an inevitable outcome but for what it really is; just a proposal. We have an opportunity to make the voice of locals heard and change our economic trajectory from one that serves tourists to one that serves us.
and#8212; Doug Fischer is a Kings Beach resident.
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