Opinion: Unless Lake Tahoe builds a wall, development is reality

Thomas G. Traxler


The headline of this letter has been corrected from its original version to read, "Unless Lake Tahoe builds a wall, development is reality."

The original version read, "Unless Lake Tahoe builds a wall, redevelopment is reality."

According to a Nov. 11 email from Mr. Traxler, in reference to the original headline, "I never said this in my piece and it is an incorrect statement.  Redevelopment is an entirely different issue within the basin while new development is what is at stake with Martis Valley West proposal."

To be clear, Mr. Traxler's letter, upon submission, included the headline, "The Bigger Picture." The Sun created the new headline, and in doing so, incorrectly used the word "redevelopment" instead of "development."

The Sierra Sun regrets its error.

Having been a full-time Tahoe resident, business owner and a resort industry professional for over 23 years, I truly do understand the opposition to recent development proposals surrounding the Tahoe Basin.

I mean, who isn’t at least somewhat concerned about more people in this pristine area, crowding roads, restaurants, beaches and mountains … right?

By the way, the Tahoe Basin isn’t the issue — since it’s all “re-development,” as is the rule — but it also suffers from the same blanket opposition.

My profession frequently takes me to other resort areas, and like a lot of us, I’m frustrated that Tahoe hasn’t evolved as intelligently or expediently as most other mountain areas.

While there are understandable objections to any new development in our surrounding areas, for us to entertain the idea we might prevent it altogether is unreasonable. At what boundary do you draw the line?

Outside of the basin means Truckee, Reno and ultimately the entire Bay Area, and the population will grow. The reality is that a growing number of people will most certainly come — whether we like it or not (check out to learn more).

Unless Tahoe is building a wall, then it’s just reality.

In entertaining this reality, I think we should recognize some of our recent, prudent development proposals for what they are: large areas of protected open space, transfer tax revenues in perpetuity, benefits to our local communities, and a reduction in home density (vs. what is currently allowed) in exchange for what are to be the last build opportunities in these areas.

For Martis Valley West, the proposed homes satisfy a long-time private landowner’s legal right to their land, reduces the potential development potential by 44% (see to learn more) and contributes significantly to the surrounding infrastructure and economy.

To deny it is simply kicking the can down the road toward an uncertainty of what could be built in the future. Also, we’ve all heard the recent comments about the construction of so-called “Mc-mansions,” as if high-quality homes are a negative.

Do we want shanties and shacks? Plus, these are largely expected to be second homes, of which owners will use less than 30 days a year and rent out less than an additional 40 days as a national average — hardly the feared and highly voiced opposition concerning the impact on our roads, evacuation scenarios and concerns over resources vs. the scores of people who will drive up from the aforementioned surrounding areas.

As stated by just about all the conservation and environmental groups, we should remember that this is land that was always going to be developed to some extent.

The MVW West Parcel already has an extensive human footprint with resort cross-country, snowshoe and biking trails and is adjacent to the existing Northstar Resort area.

With this proposal, we have a responsible land owner and a well-established, proven developer who have been willing to work with the conservation groups to ensure the best possible scenario for smaller scale development — and from everything I’ve studied, they have worked to comply with everything the conservation groups and county have asked for and have requested all along:

It permanently protects over 6,300 acres in Martis Valley.

The conservation of the East Parcel will connect 50,000 acres of contiguous open space.

It’s 760 residential units vs. 1,360.

Relocates future development to an area more proximate to an existing resort.

When transferred, 40 miles of existing trails on private land will become public.

And it’s been revised to eliminate any residences and an improved campground (separate but noteworthy) in the Tahoe Basin.

This plan is a win-win scenario for the region and will help enhance and preserve it long after we are all gone. Let’s recognize the bigger picture as well as a good deal when we see it.

Thomas G. Traxler, RRP, is a full-time Incline Village resident.

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