Letter to the Editor: Keep the horse-drawn carriages; New recycling bins bad for bears; Over-development and over-tourism; Decline of local journalism

Don’t ban horse-drawn carriage

I am writing in response to Jodie Wiederkehr’s recent letter discussing the petition to ban horse-drawn carriages worldwide, particularly in South Lake Tahoe. I recognize the good intentions of Ms. Wiederkehr and Angie Reegan, but I respectfully disagree with their stance on banning carriage rides in our city.

Being an animal lover and having owned horses throughout my life, I am committed to ensuring the well-being of all animals.

Horses are magnificent creatures, their strength, resilience, and affection for humans are remarkable. Horses prefer to have a purpose–being ridden or having a job to do, rather than being confined to a stall or corral all day. They naturally spend most of the day standing which is behavior originating from survival instincts, and they lay down just a few hours a day. The twelve Belgium Draft horses are rotated in and out of service, equating to a workload of about two to three days per week for each horse.

Since 1965, this is a true Legacy Business in South Lake Tahoe. What is to happen to their horses, their employees, if they are no longer allowed to tour the streets of South Lake Tahoe? These horses are in good health, nourished, groomed, shod, and show no signs of stress or agitation. The tour is relatively short, the terrain is flat, and the horses seem accustomed to the surrounding traffic.

With over 4,000 signatures from well-meaning individuals to ban the carriage rides, but these individuals were presented with selective and negative information.

I would rather focus on fostering better driver awareness to protect our local bear and other wildlife.

Donarae Reynolds, South Lake Tahoe

Where are the bear huggers?

South Lake Tahoe Refuse is getting ready to implement a new trash collecting system. It requires their customers to separate, rinse and bin their trash in three containers. Their response to inquiries is, that the State of California is mandating this recycling effort, AB1383.

All very nice, but what about the bears? Some of these receptacles have no lockable lids. Do they really think they are fooling a Tahoe bear by rinsing a container? One container does have a lid, that apparently opens with a latch, again no challenge for our bears.

They have been known to open sliding doors, as well as car doors. Their sense of smell is seven times better than that of a bloodhound , and 100 times that of a human. !

Nobody seems to be considering the unintended side effect this new system will have not only on bears, but also during heavy snow in winter.

The next question was, will this also be required by Nevada residents, since SLT Refuse also services the East Shore? Again no answer by the representative. Apparently they will have to negotiate a separate agreement with the Tahoe Township in Douglas County.

If the intent is to increase recycling, then SLT Refuse should be willing to pick up all the yard waste, not just one ‘ paper bag’. I want to see how a paper bag is going to hold up in our weather. And the bottom line, who is going to foot the bill for all this ‘free’ stuff?

One thing is evident, Tahoe Bears are smarter than the legislators in Sacramento!

Betty Klein, South Lake Tahoe

Over-development and over-tourism

I was struck by the sheer hubris of the TRPA’s Chairwoman Cindy Gustafson and Vice-Chairwoman Hayley Williamson in their recent Opinion piece. They say they are utilizing “science-based policies to manage growth”. All I see is over-development and over-tourism being promoted by their leadership.

The biggest and best thing that has been done to improve the Lake’s health in recent memory is a gift from God and God alone. The amazing snow pack and rain water of the 2022/23 Winter season blessed the Lake with huge volumes of crystal-clear water to materially increase the Lake’s clarity. TRPA did nothing to achieve that.

And then there are the things that the TRPA Chair and Vice Chair conveniently forgot to include in their self-congratulatory piece. Like, Lake Tahoe’s having a super high level of micro-plastics – more than almost any lake in the United States.

Or, what about the tons of trash left on Lake Tahoe’s shores during the 4th of July. Yes, the TRPA is largely responsible for these tons of trash in my opinion because it is constantly encouraging over-tourism and doing nothing to scientifically study how much tourism Lake Tahoe can handle. Fifteen million visitors at Lake Tahoe each year – three times as many as visit Yosemite.

I am not impressed by much that the TRPA does these days. Most of the recent large projects approved by the TRPA such as the Tahoe Beach Club and Latitude 39 condo project in Stateline, the Nine 47 condo project in Incline Village and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel project in Crystal Bay are all for rich people, with condos in the multi-millions and hotel rooms that will cost astronomical prices.

Tahoe residents, we can do so much better than the current cast of characters running the TRPA. The Lake is crying out to us for change. It is our job to demand a TRPA Board that actually cares about the Lake first and foremost.

Brett Tibbitts, Zephyr Cove

The decline of local journalism in South Lake Tahoe

The Tahoe Daily Tribune, founded in 1946, has been an integral part of the South Lake Tahoe community for over 75 years. As the city’s only daily newspaper, it has provided residents with local news, sports, events and more. However, in recent years, the Tribune has suffered the same fate as many local newspapers across the country – declining readership, reduced staff, and questionable ownership decisions that prioritize profits over journalism.

Recently, the Tribune posted a job listing for a reporter position offering between $16-19 per hour. This low salary is less than a living wage in South Lake Tahoe. Many capable journalists are unable or unwilling to accept such poor compensation. This has led to high turnover and a reliance on new, inexperienced reporters straight out of college.

At the same time, much of the Tribune’s limited content comes directly from press releases by local businesses, events, and government agencies. These are published with little editing or effort to ask critical questions. The paper has become more of a bulletin board than a watchdog for the community.

Real local journalism takes time and money. It requires experienced reporters building sources, researching stories, attending meetings, and interviewing residents. The Tribune’s barebones staff simply does not have the resources or direction to do this consistently.

As a result, South Lake Tahoe citizens are less informed about key decisions being made by local leaders that impact their lives. Backroom deals go uncovered, data goes unanalyzed, and officials face little accountability. This is a disservice to all who care about our city.

It does not have to be this way. The city should consider purchasing the Tribune and running it as an independent nonprofit focused on civic journalism. With stable funding and a mandate to prioritize local reporting, the Tribune could once again be a valued voice for keeping residents informed and leaders transparent.

Existing nonprofit news outlets like the Texas Tribune, Voice of San Diego, and WyoFile in Wyoming demonstrate this model can work. The city would not dictate what is covered but rather empower journalists to focus on what matters to South Lake Tahoe.

By saving the Tahoe Daily Tribune and making it a community asset once again, we can restore the local news coverage that is essential for engaged self-governance. Now is the time to act, before it is too late to revive this valued institution.

Seth Dallob, South Lake Tahoe

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