Ribaudo column: Ideology should not negate smart community investments in Tahoe
April 27, 2017
Some very nice recent changes on both sides of South Shore. The Crossings is finished, Tahoe Ale works is open as is South Tahoe Brewing. On the Nevada side Edgewood will soon open its new hotel. All these developments are positive for South Shore. We are still unable to deal with the one part of the built environment that needs it the most: the excess of motels and motel rooms.
When does ideology conflict with real world realities? I am familiar with the no-tax pledge that many Republicans subscribe to — I used to subscribe also. From where I sit not all taxes are created equal. Take for example the recent $52 billion in taxes the state of California is imposing on citizens for transportation and road improvement. The bureaucracy is so inefficient it's easy to see how those funds will never be maximized for their intended purpose.
Contrast that with the 1 percent increase to the Tahoe Township Transient Occupancy Tax that Douglas County just approved to assist in moving the event center forward; or the South Lake Tahoe TOT hike that was just approved to revamp the recreation center; or the parcel fee of several years ago that was used to improve the Lake Tahoe Unified School District facilities. Were these all added taxes? Have they or will they benefit the community? If spent correctly as promised, yes. So if that is the case, why the ideological opposition? What so often happens is we consider only the cost of doing something but rarely do we ever consider the opportunity cost of not doing something. Imagine the conditions the schools would be in without that parcel fee? All of these examples have oversight and the results quantified and or demonstrated. Some of these may just be smart investments at a community level.
While the Loop Road has had significant debate and discussion, not everyone agrees with it. But much input has been given and several good ideas have become a part of it — a credit to those who advocated for change. Most significantly is the potential of not just replacement low-income housing for the poor conditions that many live in but the potential for an additional new 200 units. The Loop Road is serious proposal that I believe will be good for the community, add new jobs and affordable housing, and improve traffic that during the summer backs up from Stateline to Ski Run. Those who oppose it should put up credible ideas on how to deal with these economic and community challenges.
The Big Picture
Living on the edge of both California and Nevada gives us a good view of how these two states operate. California has long been a high tax state while Nevada has prided itself on being a low tax state. Both believe their approach to serving their residents is the correct one. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. California would do well to respect its taxpayers, as was recently seen when the Legislature approved $52 billion for road improvements without putting it to a vote of the people. Nevada on the other hand would do well to invest more in its residents, whose education system is ranked second to last.
If you are out roaming around in Alpine County check out Ali's Café in Markleeville. Good food and a good cup of coffee. All the motorcycle riders know this place.
It's a Wrap
South Shore recently made big steps to redefining its future. The city recently approved hiring an architectural firm to design the new recreation center and Douglas County approved an increase in the lodging tax to fund additional studies needed for a proposed events center. The future of South Shore as a recreation and entertainment destination is moving forward.
Carl Ribaudo is a columnist, consultant, speaker and writer who lives in South Lake Tahoe. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.