B’s Business Viewpoint: Economy, environment flourish together
Ryan Summerlin April 25, 2014
The economy has been a hot topic for the South Shore in recent years, and while we make strides toward progress, we often simultaneously take steps backward because of litigation and apathy within the community.
Fortunately, the South Shore has recently seen triumphs through the successful outcome of the Regional Plan Update lawsuit, as well as the settlement of litigation between two Lake Tahoe residents and the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. These two victories — no small feat for either — are positive signs for our community, as they allow for the economy and the environment to flourish together.
The RPU lawsuit, which was filed by the Sierra Club against the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), threatened to slow progress in the South Shore and Tahoe as a whole. The RPU included updates to incentivize relocation of development out of environmentally sensitive areas to community nodes thereby supporting the local economy while respecting the natural environment. TahoeChamber joined other organizations in funding an Amicus Brief in support of the RPU, as our board felt so strongly about the case. Fortunately, a federal court ruled that the TRPA’s efforts were a positive force in the future of the lake.
The fireworks lawsuit proved to be trying and frustrating for business owners, as the fireworks displays are nationally renowned. Attendees bring a significant source of income for hoteliers, retailers and recreation providers. In fact, the whole community benefits from these fireworks shows. Community members were outraged, engaged and committed to do whatever it would take to preserve these events. Fortunately a compromise has been reached whereby we maintain a triple bottom line outcome. The “community” — continues to enjoy traditional family holiday celebrations, the “environment” is protected when community members come together on cleanup days and the “economy” benefits from the infusion of revenue that provides ongoing jobs and services for residents of the South Shore.
Seemingly unrelated is the Leadership Lake Tahoe program facilitated by TahoeChamber to train future leaders in the recognition and resolution of South Shore issues and challenges. Twenty-two individuals, all of whom live and work or own a business on the South Shore, have trained the past year to learn about issues that impact the community including public safety, economic development, social services, government and tourism among many other topics. On May 10, the 2014 Leadership Lake Tahoe class’s education and experiences will culminate in “Elevate Your View”, a one-day summit that will expand upon these issues for the general public. Visit www.elevatetahoe.com for more information.
These three disparate activities are all positive for the future of Lake Tahoe, but why? They are three indicators that South Lake Tahoe will no longer let apathy, litigation and negative people dictate the community’s path in the future. It proves that community members are voicing their opinions and taking action for the benefit of Tahoe for today and years to come. Our voices need to be heard to achieve economic vitality, maintain a sense of community and protect the environment we all respect and enjoy.
“B” Gorman, B.S., J.D., A.C.E., is the president and CEO of TahoeChamber.
— “B” Gorman, B.S., J.D., A.C.E., is the president and CEO of TahoeChamber.