Guest column: South Lake Tahoe City Council is not your punching bag (opinion)
I recently attended the City Council public forum on the U.S. 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project. However, this statement has nothing to do with that project. It is about the staggering lack of civil discourse in this community.
Immediately after the meeting began, people began openly threatening council, using the number of years they have lived in this community as justification for their belligerence. “The longer I’ve lived here, the more my opinion matters.” Sorry, but I disagree.
It is very apparent to me that there is a small but extraordinarily vocal minority in this town that is dead-set on keeping our community from moving forward. They are obstructionist and play into our fear of change. Or maybe our collective apathy, because civic engagement can be exhausting.
These people block attempts to fundraise for road repairs, then complain about the potholes. They yell about traffic, then block attempts to fund pedestrian and bike lanes.
As a community, we have to get out of this mode. I venture to say that most people in South Lake Tahoe actually want progress. We want fewer cars on the roads, and we want those roads to be safer for bikes and pedestrians.
We want tourist revenue for our city to implement great redevelopment projects.
We want more affordable housing.
There are champions of these causes in town who work tirelessly to progress them — some of them even spoke at the meeting. But almost always, their voices get drowned out by the picketers yelling “No Change!” outside of Grocery Outlet.
We can do better than this. We may not always agree with our elected leaders, but we should respect them, and voice our opinions as legitimate concerns and actionable solutions. Kudos to City Council for hosting these types of forums, emphasizing their belief that community voices matter, even if they know that many of those voices will be openly hostile.
Ultimately, if we want Tahoe to keep getting better, we need people to show up and also be respectful. We need the people yelling “Do Nothing!” to not be the loudest voices in the room.
To my fellow South Lake Tahoe community members: If you’ve never been to a public meeting, I challenge you to check one out. You will almost certainly learn about an interesting project to improve our community.
At the very least, I can guarantee it will be a wildly entertaining experience.
Katie Riley is a South Lake Tahoe resident.