I agree with B Gorman's recent guest editorial that "collaboration is the key to our future." Collaboration between local and regional governments, large and small businesses interests and our environmental community is essential for the South Shore and the city of South Lake Tahoe. Creating a sound vision that is beneficial to all parties is at the core of any plan for success. Successful collaboration must also be fair and equitable to all parties for good public policy and ethical reasons.
A lot of work and effort has gone into development of a "vision plan" for the South Shore. I am proud of the work, initiative, and effort of our fine Nevada neighbors to articulate their vision for the Stateline area. I wish we in South Lake Tahoe had done the same thing, because our economic health and future is important too. Building a successful South Shore economic plan should not be made at the expense of existing smaller business, property owners and residents of California who reside in South Lake Tahoe. There is a better way to collaborate and cooperate.
The currently proposed "preferred" alignment for the Loop Road will require the use of eminent domain - legal taking of private property without the consent of the property or business owner - to remove existing South Lake Tahoe businesses, take other private lands and force existing working-family city residents to move somewhere else. This is not only bad public policy, but it is morally wrong. South Lake Tahoe should not be viewed as "stepping stones" for the prosperity of others.
A successful South Shore Vision plan must encourage private-sector investment, attract federal and state funds, lead to the creation of good-paying jobs, improve the appearance of the South Shore and make needed environmental improvements. Such a plan can be achieved if those advocating collaboration and working in the process respect the rights of existing businesses, property owners, and residents of our city and convincingly demonstrate that their vision is good for the people of South Lake Tahoe.
I, too, am disappointed that the Sierra Club and Friends of West Shore felt the need to initiate litigation over the adoption of the Regional Plan by Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Our friends in the environmental community and their advocacy groups can certainly exercise their rights to litigate and ultimately the Courts make the decisions on the merits of the case, but these actions can be costly to defend and slow down economic and environmental progress. Environmental protection and improvements and a strong and vital local economy are not mutually exclusive notions. They are linked and compatible ideas that must be reconciled through good planning.
Those of us opposed to the current alignment of the Loop Road are neither against sound economic development nor collaborative planning. Nothing is farther from the truth. Our message has been the same over time. We are anxious to work with TTD and others in a planning process that is transparent and respects the rights of all. We support the development of a strong economic growth base for the South Shore and for the city of South Lake Tahoe. We want to see planning that encourages a more diverse and vibrant local economy. We support government policies that encourage, supports, and nurtures as a matter of written policy (not just talk) existing businesses in the city and South Shore and invites new private-sector investment that is compatible with our plans. We support environmental improvements and protection.
Leaders of city government want what they believe is best for our city. As directly elected leaders of the community, they know that our city and South Shore needs to be prosperous. They want to see positive improvements that help all of our people and their constituents. They want to be able to provide excellent services to the community and our visitors, and they want our city to be safe, vibrant and attractive. Most city residents share these views and they are anxious to participate in a visioning and planning process with all governmental agencies and private parties that helps South Lake Tahoe and the entire South Shore.
I appreciate B. Gorman's efforts to move forward with a collaborative, fair, and beneficial planning process for us all. I urge all governmental and private parties who are collaborating to do the same.
- David Jinkens is a retired South Lake Tahoe city manager.