Opinion: Coming together as a community to create a prosperous future
Tribune Opinion Columnist
Last Wednesday, Tahoe Regional Young Professionals kicked off a new event series called Tahoe Town Hall. The first event focused on local ordinances with a panel of speakers from the City of South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Panelists spoke about their jurisdiction roles around Tahoe and the process for creating and enforcing ordinances. They also explained the history and future of vacation rental home ordinances and South Shore’s single-use plastic bag ban.
While the panel shared important information, the biggest takeaway from the night was the community members who filled the room. They were truly a reflection of our community — old-timers and newcomers, professionals and students, business owners and workers, plus elected officials and voters. The audience was civil, asked relevant questions and participated in real conversation.
This is what our community needs to be, and can be, to create a prosperous future. It should not be a mystery that we have a hard road ahead. A recent report in Moonshine Ink revealed that 47 percent of workers in the region commute outside the area for work and 59 percent commute into the region. The study conducted for this report also found that 47 percent of employers find the availability of suitable housing impacts their ability to recruit workers. There is a frightening amount of truth behind the statement “poverty with a view.”
I know smart and qualified people forced to work seasonal jobs because that is all they can find. I have also spoken with small business owners struggling to find the qualified employees they need to grow. Friends are thinking of moving out of the area so they can afford to buy homes. We all face these issues; they are complex and multi-dimensional, and solutions are not going to be easy.
Clearly, the way we have always done things is not working for us anymore. The tired rhetoric of the old guard and new guard needs to end. We need to learn from the wisdom of those who came before, but also embrace new ideas flowing into the community. Stop telling newcomers to our community they are not “true locals” until they have been here for any number of years. How do you expect to build a strong and resilient community when that is how you welcome people?
I know we can meet these challenges if everyone in the community starts acting like the crowd at last week’s Tahoe Town Hall. Show up for the issues that matter and make your voice heard in a meaningful and constructive way. The time for squabbling, petty arguments and refusal to change is over. Not everyone will agree, nor should they, but to halt any progress because of it is dangerous. We must all work to build a better future or there will not be a Tahoe to call home.
Devin Middlebrook is the civic engagement committee chair for the Tahoe Regional Young Professionals. For comments, questions, or more information on how to get involved please email Devin and firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.TahoeTryp.org.