Ribaudo column: Housing in Tahoe — ‘like a bad toothache that doesn’t go away’
May 24, 2017
I was disheartened to hear that lake water clarity had decreased by 4 feet, according to UC Davis. You would think after almost $2 billion spent on projects to improve clarity we would be in better shape. The latest report by UC Davis attributes the clarity loss to climate change and its impact on the lake.
Given that climate change is outside the control and if this trend continues it really calls into question the viability of trying to achieve the 100-foot clarity challenge. I am not suggesting for a moment that we diminish our efforts to be stewards of the lake. But I am suggesting it might be time to realistically discus what the goal is.
Housing, it's like a bad toothache that doesn't go away. Sadly, I have heard too many stories of people who can't get housing (many with kids) and it's a terrible situation we are in. But we are not alone. I work in many destinations all over the state and most everyone is in the same situation, especially those near the coast. Here are the numbers that scare me. According to the state of California, there are 39 million people living in the state with 44 million expected by 2030. At the same time the housing supply in California is woefully short. Recent studies indicate the state needs to build 180,000 new housing units per year to keep pace and currently 80,000 are being built, far short of demand.
Another key issue that complicates the issue is housing is controlled at the local level and most every community votes down new housing for fear of the impacts like traffic and crowding; that raises the price of rental housing. Add to this the technology that Airbnb and others have developed and no matter where you look it's ugly. One must wonder if the state of California is outsourcing its low-income housing to Nevada, Arizona and Texas.
Back in 2008 Red Hawk Casino opened and it had a significant impact on our local economy — lots of jobs lost, schools closed and more. Since that time, the South Shore has been redefining itself as a recreation and entertainment destination. We are making great strides. Hiking, mountain biking, road biking and more have become integral parts of the available activities in South Shore. Voters have approved and we are moving forward with a new recreation center which is symbolic of the importance of recreation to the community.
Entertainment has become a major focal point of South Shore for visitors and locals alike. Have you looked at the entertainment schedule for both Harveys and MontBleu? It's impressive. Rock, country, indie, there is something for everyone and with Douglas County moving forward with the development of a performing arts/special events center, entertainment will be part of the South Shore for a long time to come. Add to it new beer and restaurants and so far, so good.
The Big Picture
Now that recreational marijuana has become legal in California there are some who think pot tourism will be the next big thing. I am not so sure. I recently completed a study in Mendocino County that looked at the issue and the percentage of people who indicated they would travel for pot was not as big as I thought. This might change as the pot tourism experience gets more defined but so far it doesn't.
Don't miss America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride on June 4. I'll be riding motorcycle support and look to say "hi."
It's a Wrap
It's so sad to hear of the passing of Chris Cornell. Another great voice lost. Mental health continues to challenge this country and this was a sad reminder.
Carl Ribaudo is a columnist, consultant, speaker and writer who lives in South Lake Tahoe. He can be reached at email@example.com.