My Turn: North Tahoe fire assessment isn’t frivolous
October 7, 2007
I just heard the strangest story, unfortunately it is a true story, verging on conspiracy theory and paranoia.
I think the city is trying to come to the mountains. Before you laugh and say “of course it has” hear me out.
We have, without a doubt, the best fire protection district ever, here in North Lake Tahoe. Manned by committed, hard-working and well-trained professionals, who love this mountain even if some can’t afford to live here (topic for another time).
Every day, some times more than once a day, these people put their lives on the line to save you, your home and your neighborhood (and occasionally your dogs, cats and children).
So here they are (well, the board is) asking for a little, urgently needed, increased financing, not to build a new building (although they need several) but to help you ” every single one of you ” by providing more, absolutely necessary services for fire protection for your homes and families.
The money will be used to help fight fires, provide fuel-reduction services, upgrade the communication systems and even help pay for water dropping helicopters in case of fire.
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This is not a frivolous “let’s raise taxes” sort of thing. If the Angora Fire didn’t scare the breath out of you then maybe the Tahoe City Washoe Fire did; it was sure close enough. Did anyone notice the absolutely amazing speed of response to this fire? Without these men and women and the ability of the management members, we were destined to have a Tahoe City version of the Angora Fire.
The assessment of $4 per month is far less than two Starbucks, one pack of cigarettes or a fast food lunch. It is less than one glass of wine or a Wet Woodie. It’s less than 2 gallons of gas, drop one trip to the post office and you have this assessment paid.
Interestingly enough, it isn’t the cost that has people squirming, it’s the fact that, by law, an assessment is public and it will be somewhere recorded that you choose to not vote for it.
An explanation is in order here. The reason for this ballot method is that property owners need to be the ones who decide on this assessment. Unfortunately nearly 70 percent of our homeowners are not registered to vote here so a regular (secret) ballot vote doesn’t work. This is an entirely unintended consequence but necessary in the light of the issue.
OK, I can almost understand not voting for it, if it wasn’t my life and yours they are trying to protect. What I can’t understand is the absolutely silly and juvenile thought (this is the strange story) that if you vote against it (or don’t vote for it) then they won’t save your house if it is burning or rescue you if you need emergency medical services.
Believe me, this scenario would never happen in Tahoe (or anywhere for that matter). For one thing they wouldn’t take the time to check out how you voted before responding to an emergency call. For another they have a much bigger sense of propriety and ethics to even consider the thought. It appalls them that this is even an issue. As one member told me, “How can they even think that way?”
Come on people, this is a community, a group of disparate people, who have chosen to live and work together because we love this place. Get your silly self off the “too-much-TV-and-movie” paranoia. No one will come get you or refuse to come get you just because you chose to vote a certain way.
If you really don’t want to spend the money protecting yourself and your loved ones then don’t sign for the assessment. No one will ever know and no one will hold it against you. But even then, why would it stop you from for voting for it?
North Tahoe Fire protection District needs your support and we need theirs. Please, sign this assessment into action, breathe easier, feel safer and skip one latte per month. I am.