Opinion: Change for the better on Tahoe’s South Shore | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Opinion: Change for the better on Tahoe’s South Shore

Heidi Hill Drum
Tribune Opinion Columnist
Should this be considered "affordable housing" in South Lake Tahoe?
Courtesy Photo |

My column last month was about trying to work together because life is short — and you only get to do it once. Why spend energy on negativity when we could be collaborating and improving our towns together? That is the goal of Tahoe Prosperity Center and the reason I became involved with the organization.

Since then, it seems folks keep dividing the “camps” even further. A group of local residents want to put an initiative on the ballot in the city for a project that is only in half of the city. The time, money and effort fighting this could be put to better use in our community. Yes, change is hard, but let’s be real, folks — our community needs change. Desperately. Status quo is not working and things will never “go back to the way they used to be.”

Here are two photos I took a few weeks ago. The first is what is considered “affordable housing” in our communities. It saddens me that so many families find themselves living in these conditions (tarps on the roof, windows and little insulation) because we don’t have enough options like the Aspens or Domus (newly built affordable housing projects in South Lake Tahoe and Kings Beach). To those proposing the ballot measure against the South Shore Revitalization project, how about taking the energy and money you are using to fight the “powers that be” and put it into fixing problems like not enough affordable housing?

The other photo is of Ted Kennedy playing music in front of Azul and California Burger. Ted co-owns three great South Shore restaurants and two in North Tahoe. This photo was taken on a Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. on a non-holiday week. The people in the photo are a mix of residents and visitors enjoying a beautiful afternoon. They are also supporting Bread and Broth because Ted gives back to the community. I ask again — how is this bad for our community? Redevelopment is a good thing. Change is a good thing. Local business owners like Ted are a good thing.

The Shops at Heavenly Village has 73 percent of its businesses owned by local residents. Being in this redevelopment is a good business decision. Our Measuring for Prosperity report bears that out since sales tax revenue back to the city from these businesses is higher than in the rest of town. Will every existing business survive change? No, but redevelopment is not the only reason they may not be here in five years. And, visionary businesses like the Driftwood Café, which moved from an old motel to its current location at the Shops at Heavenly have benefited from planning ahead for change.

I encourage those of you who want to see positive change in our community to please get involved. You can be a part of our Workforce Tahoe project to help solve problems related to a strong, local workforce. You can donate to the TPC or other small nonprofits making a difference in our towns. Please do what you can to turn the conversation from one of negativity to one focused on positive change for all who live here. Or, in other words “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Heidi Hill Drum is the executive director of the Tahoe Prosperity Center, a Tahoe Basin-wide organization dedicated to uniting Tahoe’s communities to strengthen regional prosperity. She has expertise in collaborative governance and is a 20-year resident of Tahoe. Heidi, with her husband John, are happily raising their two boys in South Lake Tahoe.


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