I read the Tahoe Transportation District Executive Director Carl Hasty's column on the "Revitalization Project ...," also more commonly known as the "Loop Road," in the July 14-17 edition of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. Tearing down about 93 residential and commercial properties and displacing hundreds of people in the City of South Lake Tahoe to build a road is destruction, not revitalization, as the title of the article suggests.
Reading Hasty's column is like taking a step back in time. Property owner Mike McKeen, concerned residents and property owners and the City Council have made it clear that the current Loop Road alignment and the use of eminent domain is unacceptable and that other options should be pursued and evaluated. Reading Hasty's column suggests that at least in his mind, i.e. because the TTD Board has not met to give direction, the unacceptable and destructive Loop Road alignment is still very much an option. Direction from the TTD Board to their staff (Hasty) on this matter is supposed to be given at TTD's next meeting on July 20 on the South Shore.
More road alignment and pedestrian-friendly options are needed to be studied and evaluated by TTD. Environmental and relocation documents that include the present road alignment must stop. New options including suggestions made by the Councilman Hal Cole, and the use of pedestrian bridges or undercrossings need to be fairly evaluated and vetted in this community. Keeping the present Loop Road alignment in play is not an option that is acceptable to the community and the City Council (in whose city the road would be built). It won't be built so, no matter how much propaganda and neutral massaging the present Loop Road alignment gets by TTD staff or its paid consultants, it is not going to happen.
Keeping the destructive Loop Road alignment in play will further anger the residents and business owners of South Lake Tahoe. TTD staff's pursuit of this failed approach could motivate electors of the city and business owners to seek other methods of remedy to prevent this destruction of their property and property right, property values and the dislocation of hundreds of renters. The City Council is directly elected by the people of the community to represent and fight for the city's "public interest" over and above special interests, and we support their opposition to this road alignment. The Loop Road destruction project option needs to stop now. In this instance, TTD staff's persistence to build the road "no matter what" is not a virtue.
- David M. Jinkens, M.P.A., is a South Lake Tahoe resident and community advocate.