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LTVA hurts Tahoe, say some residents

Sally J. Taylor

As the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority plans its future, some residents feel the community would be better off without the organization.

The beginning of the LTVA in 1986 was the beginning of economic decline on the South Shore, according to Nina Ingris, a 22-year resident and former owner of a health food store on Ski Run Boulevard.

From her business, Heavenly Nutrition, Ingris watched tourist dollars drain away. She feels the LTVA was the source of “lies” telling potential visitors that the town was already crowded.



Ingris arms her viewpoint with news clippings and memories of conversations from that period.

Soon after the LTVA was organized, she repeatedly heard customers say they were told by the toll-free reservations number operators that no vacancies were available at Tahoe. Those customer came up anyway and found plenty of room.



“I drove up the highway and saw vacancies all over the place,” she said of a particular year just before Thanksgiving. “How can you answer the phone (at Tahoe) and say Tahoe’s full?”

Just before the Fourth of July 1990, a television broadcast from the Bay Area declared Tahoe was full. When she called the station, she was told the information came from the LTVA.

Occupancies were down that holiday weekend.

“One motel after another started going belly up,” she said.

Ingris wonders if redevelopment planning had something to do with the misinformation.

“They would have had to pay more if (the motels) were full like in the mid-80s,” she said. Instead, “they’re victims to be demolished.”

The solution to Tahoe’s economic woes is not the LTVA, she said.

Jean Persson, co-owner of Tahoe Villa, also feels more needs to be done, perhaps even attracting new industry.

Frustrated with businesses of all sorts closing on the South Shore, she recently called a meeting of small-business owners to come up with a better program.

Response was discouraging and solutions were hard to find.

Small-business owners are in mourning over their economic losses, she told a small group earlier this month. Disbelief, apathy, discouragement and clinical depression have replaced the motivation to change things around.

Even Persson plans to leave Tahoe as soon as economically feasible.

While discouraged with the lack of economic progress from the LTVA’s programs, she’s not so sure that dismantling the LTVA is the answer.

“We’ve had two new groups,” she said, referring to the original LTVA and its restructuring in 1992. “I think when we cleaned up (in 1992) we may have thrown the baby out with the bath water.

“To me, it’s not just a mater of renting my rooms,” she said. “It’s always been important to me to have shopping, to be assured of good medical and dental care.

“When I can’t go in for my yearly physical, we all lose.”


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