Opinion: City council stifles South Lake Tahoe’s future
Tribune Guest Column
This past week the South Lake Tahoe City Council made a decision, to repeal the plastic bag ban for local retail stores, that I believe has set back our community. This was an opportunity for city council to make a decision that reflected the will of its citizens and allow South Lake Tahoe to appear as an environmentally friendly city, as we claim to be.
The three council members that voted against the plastic bag ban — Hal Cole, Tom Davis and JoAnn Conner — all state that they are looking out for small businesses, and that the additional cost of transitioning from plastic to paper bags is too much of a burden for South Shore businesses to bear. In their own words “a plastic bag costs business owners $.02 where the paper bag is $.20.” With over 15 years of sales experience, I can tell you first hand that $.18 will not make or break a sale. It is not difficult or uncommon for businesses to pass on small costs to the consumer.
The actions of the three council members who enacted the repeal not only hurt our community, but hurt each and every small business in South Lake Tahoe. In a recent Tahoe Chamber survey, businesses in the South Shore believe that the No. 1 issue facing our community is workforce development and attracting young, talented employees. Here in the South Shore we are years behind other communities when it comes to attracting young talent, especially when you look at our neighboring communities such as Reno and Sacramento that are already taking our top level talent. Our wages are much lower here on the South Shore, our Internet speed is not up to par and we don’t have any sort of an open-air promenade suitable for young families to eat, shop and gather.
This was an opportunity, a moment for our city to look progressive and act on our values. This was an important statement that demonstrates our community cares about the future and preservation of South Lake Tahoe. Creating a desirable place for young professionals to live, work and raise their families should be a priority of our city council. How will our small businesses survive if young people don’t want to live here? Millennials are a very passionate group … they won’t eat at places that use Styrofoam, they prefer their food to be organic or from a trusted source, they have the power of the Internet in their hands, and now because of the poor decision making of our city council, they will have one more reason to skip South Lake Tahoe for their career location.
Justin Sinner is the membership services director of the Tahoe Chamber, an organization comprised of over 650 businesses representing over 8,000 jobs in the South Shore region.