Lynn Gibson: TBID means local control
I recently read an Opinion letter in the Sierra Sun that truly sparked my emotions and I felt compelled to respond to the biased misinformation I’ve seen printed about North Lake Tahoe’s proposed Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID). My 25+ year career developing retail and commercial projects around the U.S. combined with a 35-year love affair with Lake Tahoe and 11 years as a full-time local small business manager provides me with both macro and micro perspectives on the range of issues shared or not shared by locals and visitors. When you review the history and current position of Placer County’s allocation of Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) revenue, the TBID is necessary to positively affect full-time locals, part-time owners, vacationers and business owners, and I couldn’t be more supportive.
The North Lake Tahoe Resort Association (NLTRA) Board and staff agree with my sentiment that the Opinion letter publicly made false accusations and statements about who’s behind implementing the TBID and who benefits from it. I implored that writer to interview those involved, learn the facts, and only post opinions based upon facts. She declined.
I feel compelled to educate the public on the facts and history related to the TIBD proposal. I learned about this initiative when I served on NLTRA’s Board of Directors from 2016-2018. In meeting after meeting I witnessed volunteers and NLTRA staff devoted to preserving the vitality of North Lake Tahoe’s tourism-centric economy. This is a team who dedicates their precious personal time and careers to supporting the locally owned businesses that make our communities so unique. Their marketing message is very specific – it’s not to expand additional visitation during peak periods, but instead focuses on shoulder seasons and mid-week. It expands awareness and educates visitors on the range of experiences they can have in our region and being good stewards while they’re here.
Tahoe has a complex ecosystem and for over 65 years the NLTRA has demonstrated their collective ability to be at the helm and they will best navigate this next chapter in tourism. A large component of our economy has shifted from local ownership to large conglomerates (both public and private) with far-away headquarters, and small business survival during the shoulder seasons has become increasingly difficult. Most local businesses can’t just close for a couple months, they struggle – usually operating just to keep their employees employed.
During 2020, outdoor destinations across the country benefited from a substantial increase in visitors seeking sun, space and exercise. The unanticipated swell in visitors combined with limited hospitality, dining and entertainment options created impacts beyond our wildest imagination: trash (everywhere), traffic, overcrowding, noise, and unintended use of restricted areas. With populations growing both east and west of Lake Tahoe, management of resources, stewardship and workforce housing is critical. Placer County does not have a dedicated budget or staff for this. The NLTRA directed TBID targets day visitors (which accounts for over 40% of total visitors to the region) and ensures those individuals and groups contribute to our infrastructure and economic sustainability.
Under existing programs, the only way visitors contribute to our infrastructure and vitality is if they stay overnight and pay a Transient Occupancy Tax. These funds go directly to the “general funds budget” at Placer County and are not equitably allocated back to where they come from. The TBID assesses additional industries in an equitable way, and those dollars under the direct control of the local business community will expand our collective ability to address tourism impacts as well as efforts to support workforce housing. A TBID will provide the needed funds for assisting in solving the issues we face as a community.
The NLTRA has formal committees devoted to specific purposes and goals. Any decisions require a Board vote and include direct input from a broad spectrum of large, medium and small businesses. None of these cater to or are directed by special interests or large corporations. The NLTRA has obligations to manage to the highest standard stated goals in limited arenas, it is not random or whimsical. It is not influenced by any person or entity.
Mostly, it’s important to remember that a TBID means local control. Instead of Placer County managing the funds generated from North Lake Tahoe, the local business community will. I encourage everyone to do some research before assuming a mistaken tax is a bad thing for North Lake Tahoe. Meet with people who can share the details and facts and please form an educated opinion.
Lynn Gibson has lived full-time in North Lake Tahoe since 2010 and part time since 1992. In addition to managing a small retail business in North Lake Tahoe for over 10 years, she has consulted numerous local businesses and restaurants on marketing and operating strategies in resort towns. Prior to Lake Tahoe, Lynn spent 25 years working with shopping center and resort developer’s as well as local, regional and national retail and restaurant chains guiding real estate strategy, market densification, competitive analysis, and market positioning. She has been licensed in real estate in California for 35 years. Lynn served on the Board of the Sierra State Parks Foundation and the S.N.O.W. Sports Museum prior to the NLTRA.
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