Tahoe activist group scales new heights | SierraSun.com

Tahoe activist group scales new heights

Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun file photoDave Harlow walks through the Village at Squaw last winter. The new North Tahoe Citizen Action Alliance hosted a film night this week that focused on new development trends in resort communities.

At its second-ever meeting, the North Tahoe Citizen Action Alliance hosted a documentary film night Wednesday that attracted an audience of 70 to the North Tahoe Community Center.

The films, “The Lost People of Mountain Village” and “Resorting to Madness,” addressed recent trends in resort towns nationwide, namely the development and expansion of ski resorts, skyrocketing property values and the deterioration of social, economic and environmental fabric in small tows.

“The consensus at the end [of “Resorting to Madness”] is get in there and get involved,” said alliance President Jerry Wotel. “That’s what our organization is doing.”

In a community facing proposed development that could reshape local towns, the group’s founders consider communication and knowledge as valuable tools. The grassroots alliance has begun educating its members, giving them the knowledge to accurately, critically and effectively respond to complex planning issues.

“We want you to speak,” Wotel said to a room full of interested locals. “Our organization exists for communication in a large way.”

After Wotel opened the floor, residents commented about future development projects and local government representation.

“I definitely feel like the developers are hearing this too,” said North Tahoe resident Jerry Dinzes at the meeting, noting Homewood’s “green” development and the Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement project. “It’s kind of hard to compete with [developers] and all their media coverage.”

Established more than three months ago, the alliance has nearly 100 members across Tahoe’s West and North Shore. Many others left Wednesday’s meeting with an application in hand, ready to join the group, Wotel said.

Wotel said the group has more meetings and workshops in the works to continue educating its members, including discussions about Lake Tahoe’s water clarity and the California Environmental Quality Act.

“Even though our first goal is the citizen voice, we want an informed citizen voice,” Wotel said. “The informed citizen voice, we hope, will come from these public presentations.”

Wotel has already met with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Placer County to discuss his organization and its goals. He is scheduling a meeting with the League to Save Lake Tahoe.

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