Guest opinion: Telling the right story
January 4, 2017
From an insider's point of view, it is not hard to see that 2016 was a year of progress for South Lake Tahoe. New businesses opened, entrepreneurs flocked to the area, old buildings were razed to make way for the new and residents became more engaged in local government.
Despite the visible energy and successes in the community, from an outside prospective, not much looks like it has changed. I was in Oakland a few months ago and was talking about Tahoe with a new acquaintance I met. After hearing I lived in South Shore they asked, "that's the run-down side of the lake, right?" I was caught off guard by this comment, but also understood why they would say that.
Whether you like it or not, this is the image the outside world holds about us. How visitors perceive Tahoe is vital to our successes. If we are perceived as a dying town, tourism will drop off, residents will leave, and our economy will shrink.
But there is good news! We have a winning story, one of excitement, new ideas to share and opportunities around every corner. We simply need to start sharing the right story with the world. Our old story was gaming, late-night parties and skiing. We need to start speaking about world-class recreation for all seasons, entrepreneurial spirit, business opportunities and a community to call home.
This is something everyone can do starting today. Next time someone asks you about Tahoe, tell him or her what is new and exciting. Let all your friends from far and wide know how Tahoe is the place to be. Share exciting news about Tahoe with whomever will listen. Most importantly, change how you talk about where you live. Lake level and snow totals shouldn't be the only headlines people read about Lake Tahoe.
Both California and Nevada approved marijuana for recreational use this November. This will open the door for new industry and tax revenue in both states. On the California side, the city of South Lake Tahoe has the power to decide whether or not businesses will be allowed to sell marijuana in city limits. This is a decision that will be heavily discussed over the next few months.
Unfortunately, it seems that the city is only hearing one side of the marijuana debate so far. At the December city council meeting, councilmembers heard presentations about the legalization of marijuana, all of the presenters at the meeting held an anti-marijuana viewpoint. I urge the city and councilmembers to seek out both sides of the argument to fully understand the topic before making any decisions.
Recreational use of marijuana is not going to go away if the city blocks its sale in town (there are already more head shops in town than Asian massage parlors). We can either pretend like it isn't there, and keep drug dealer employed, or embrace marijuana and be a leader in the industry. The potential tax revenue from the sale of marijuana could be the boost our community needs to achieve our goals.
And no, allowing marijuana in our community will not destroy our "family friendly" atmosphere.
Devin Middlebrook is the executive director for the Tahoe Regional Young Professionals. For comments, questions or more information on how to get involved, please email Devin at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.TahoeTryp.org.