Making Tahoe work takes commitment (opinion) |

Making Tahoe work takes commitment (opinion)

If you’ve lived in Tahoe for more than a month, no doubt you’ve heard someone say, “I moved here 30 years ago to ski one winter and never left.”

For some people it’s a badge of honor. They toughed it out and made it work. Others still seem bewildered they ended up here. Then there are people like me: mid-30s, good job, some good friends, been here a few years … but still not sure if Tahoe is home.

Our 2016 Leadership Lake Tahoe Class asked other Tahoe residents if they are working their dream job and, if not, what is holding them back? We heard a lot of the same issues my classmates and I face — high housing prices, limited job opportunities and lack of a true town center. So how did the people who came to ski one winter, but never left, make Tahoe work?

“I moved here 44 years ago right after college and planned on staying a couple of years to get skiing out of my system before settling into a teaching job,” says Karen Houser, former director of the Boys and Girls Club, ski instructor, ski school director, firewood business owner and Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition board member. “Well, that all changed and I never left. And although I have used my teaching path in other ways, my life took a different route.”

To make Tahoe work, maybe you need to be a special kind of person looking for a unique place that challenges you to adapt and grow. Tahoe offers so much: world-class recreation and a balance between urban and rural life that is hard to strike.

Mike Frye came to South Lake Tahoe 40 years ago to “escape the crowds … most of time.”

Mike has been on the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority team since 2007, but has also worked at Kirkwood Mountain Resort and South Tahoe High School.

“I promised myself in graduate school while sitting on Emerald Bay that I would figure out how to get a job here,” he said.

And he did, by pushing himself to take some leaps and working different types of jobs because “It felt good and natural to be here. Tahoe provides the platform for a lot of activities I love: skiing, hiking, and biking with drop dead gorgeous scenery.”

If you want to make Tahoe work, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

1. Am I willing to work hard and be flexible on what I want?

2. Am I willing to integrate myself into the community?

3. Can I think creatively and generate opportunities for myself and others?

This is what Leadership Lake Tahoe is all about. Picture 25 professionals learning the inner workings of South Lake Tahoe one month at time. They tour facilities like the El Dorado County Jail, ask panelists like city councilman Austin Sass tough questions, and identify what makes South Lake Tahoe a unique puzzle. We are continually asking ourselves how or if we are making Tahoe work for us, and how we can help others make Tahoe work for them.

That’s why we are holding the “Make Tahoe Work by Working in Tahoe” leadership summit on May 6. We understand that we all face similar challenges and need to work together to support Tahoe and to support each other for this to be a place people want to make their home and continue to protect. You should join us in this endeavor. Let’s innovate together. Be a part of the movement to make Tahoe work, not by changing the place we all love, but by working together and creating opportunities that complement Tahoe’s environment.

As Karen Houser says, “Create your own destiny and make Tahoe what you want it to be.”

For more information, visit

Morgan Beryl is an associate transportation planner at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. She is part of the 2016 Leadership Lake Tahoe Class and has called South Lake home since 2012.

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