How the local economy is doing depends on where you sit. If you are a retired with a pension and medical or a business owner that is doing well or a public or private sector employee with a steady paycheck, things look pretty good. But if you're a single mother or a married couple trying to get more hours for wages or insurance, you might not see it the same way. The same goes for a business that might be barely surviving. Unemployment is still way too high in this community. Recently released figures have unemployment at 12.3 percemt for the City of South Lake Tahoe compared with 6.5 percent for Mammoth and 7.2 percent for Truckee. I guess it's a matter of your perspective.
Several years ago people were clamoring for more events, but this past summer there were lots of them. My favorite was Neil Young and Crazy Horse at Harveys. Though I am sure everyone had their favorite, that was mine. We have been seeing an increase in niche events, those events that can get done with minimal permitting and hassle and don't require hundreds of thousands of dollars to start. A great example of this was the successful bike parade down Highway 50. Simple, creative, successful. Some of the events will continue to grow and attract media and visitors for South Shore and they complement the major events the area has. Keep it up, South Shore.
It looks like the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's Regional Plan Update is making its way to approval. While it's not perfect it is much better than what we have had. Perhaps the most important aspect is the change in thinking that is occurring as a result of the plan. You see, for the past 30 years the mantra from the environmental industry has been "building is bad for the environment" but, years later, we know that thinking has in fact hurt the environment. There has in fact been an environmental cost to doing nothing as no building just preserved the mistakes of the past. It may have made some people feel good that they were "helping the environment," but in most cases they weren't. The new plan acknowledges that rebuilding with the latest and best environmental practices is a must. It's about time. You owe it to yourself to find out as much as you can about the new Regional Plan.
I am already missing the fresh tomatoes from the farmers market. Isn't it amazing how many farmers markets we are seeing? The USDA is reporting in 2012 there are more than 7,800 farmers markets in the United States, up from 1,755 in 1992. Consider that McDonald's has about 14,000 outlets in the U.S. and farmers markets are halfway there.
What happens if Proposition 30 fails? By now you have probably heard about this proposition to increase sales taxes on wealthy Californians as well as a sales tax increase and, one would assume this proposition - put forward by a democratic governor in a democratic state - would pass. But what if it doesn't? A funny thing is happening on the way to election day: Californians are beginning to take a closer look as support for this measure is trailing in the polls. Voters are realizing the collected taxes go to the state's general fund and not to education; they realize that legislators will take the money that currently goes to schools and replace it with these new tax revenues so there is no new money going to schools. The governor has long intimated that, if Proposition 30 does not pass, school funding will be cut. What the citizens may be saying is, "go ahead, legislators, make your move and we'll remember come the next election." What is emerging is a big game of chicken. Given this state's politics, I thought this proposition would pass no problem, I might be wrong.
Even if you are a casual fan of baseball, don't miss the World Series. It's some of the greatest sports you will see. While I know everyone is football crazy; in the World Series, every play and crack of the bat is important. If it's on, watch it. Better yet, grab a couple friends and head to a local restaurant for some beer and wings and enjoy it even more.
It's sad to see the passing of Zan Barker. I first met Zan years ago when he ran Ski Run Marina and have always enjoyed talking with him over the years. His big, booming voice and community support will be missed. Rest in peace, Zan.
- Carl Ribaudo is a contributing columnist to the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He is also a consultant, speaker and writer who lives in South Shore. He can be reached at email@example.com.