Editorial: The decade ahead
December 29, 2009
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth and final editorial documenting the lessons we learned from the 2009 recession. Read them in the Editorials section of http://www.sierrasun.com.
Simply put, it was a year of economic contrasts. Locals were tightwads this year and#8212; for good reason and#8212; while an international company built one of the most expensive developments in the region’s history. Because of this, we will remember 2009 as the year the development era began to be replaced by the luxury era.
This also summarizes the challenges we will need to address in the next decade.
It’s no secret, and it is not up for debate. We are going luxury. From the Boulder Bay project renovating the Biltmore by the lake, to the Ritz-Carlton at Northstar, to Placer County’s vision for the entire North Shore, these high-end properties will bring clientele that price out most of our local residents.
But we do not want to suffer the same pitfalls as the Aspens of the world, who lost its identity in the 90s when its leaders traded local residents for fur shops and real estate offices. To this day, workers are forced to live at least 30 minutes away from the reason they moved to the mountains, ensuring that the same lifestyle that put Aspen on the map no longer exists. So let’s learn from them instead. Here’s advice from one long-term Aspen resident on what Tahoe should do:
and#8220;In the next decade,and#8221; he said, and#8220;Tahoe will need to recruit and facilitate long-term, diverse industries. You must implement coordinated policies to protect local businesses and workforce and#8212; like affordable housing and rent programs and#8212; in order to welcome in the new era of luxury in good conscience. And most importantly, you will always need to improve your environments for shopping local and#8212; which includes affordable rents, interesting inventory and a good workforce. If we had done that before, and not after the luxury invasion, I’d still live in Aspen, and that’s where my children would be growing up.and#8221;
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These tenets he speaks about will only become more challenging to accomplish as the region changes.
In the next decade, luxury will be booking itself a permanent stay in the region, and the mint on the pillow will not be meant for locals. Our and#8220;mintand#8221; will be public policies handed down by leaders to protect our quality of life, and our opportunity to live in such a beautiful place. So let’s learn from Aspen, instead of repeating it.
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