Editorial: Keep the faith — The new year will obliterate the trauma of 2007
For many, it seems, the end of a year prompts sighs of relief.
For South Lake Tahoe residents and tourists, 2007’s demise may be particularly welcome. The year ushered in a perfect storm that damaged the South Shore’s environment and economy.
Local businesses were first pummeled early in 2007 by the perfect storms that weren’t. The area suffered through a dismal winter season when snowfall amounted to about 60 percent of normal.
The measly accumulations kept some tourists away and caused many area merchants to weather a slow shopping season. The South Shore hoped to make up for it with a robust summer tourist season.
That hope exploded on June 24, when winds whipped flames from an illegal campfire into the surrounding bone-dry forests near the North Upper Truckee and Tahoe Mountain areas.
The resulting fire would destroy 254 homes, shatter lives and disrupt the economy. Though town officials opted to proceed with the town’s annual Fourth of July celebration, despair hung like the still-smoldering fire’s thick smoke over the famed lake and mountains.
News accounts from around the world publicized the South Shore in ways residents and tourists hoped they would never see. The area’s worst fire in history drew an exclamation point on a year that had prompted residents to band together, but whose effects are still being felt.
The good news to the start of 2008 is that some Angora fire-area homeowners have already begun to rebuild, the area’s ski resorts are humming and the South Shore’s bustling with holiday tourists.
Good omens, all.
For 2008, a few resolutions are in order:
1.) Government officials, administrative agencies and citizens must work together to prevent catastrophic wildfires, safeguard homes and simultaneously protect the area’s glorious environment. The acrimony from both sides following the Angora fire threatened to derail further negotiations on such issues as defensible space, but recent compromises on a variety of issues is encouraging.
2.) Government officials, administrative agencies and citizens must compromise to sustain the area’s tourism and maintain critical city resources. Without sustained and vigorous tourism, South Lake Tahoe will flounder. Likewise, the city will suffer if it can’t recruit and retain devoted police officers, firefighters and other public safety personnel.
3.) Community leaders and citizens must figure out how to lure families back to live on the South Shore. The continuing controversy over the reassignment of students on the Nevada side of South Lake Tahoe illustrates the seriousness of the problem.
4.) On the heels of resolution No. 3, community leaders, government officials and citizens must not let spiraling home prices drive residents away and prohibit others from moving here. Compared to other areas in our region — most notably in and around Sacramento — the South Shore has so far staved off the worst of the home foreclosure crisis, but affordable housing in our area is a myth for most.
“Poverty with a view” is just as applicable to middle class workers as it is to transient snow enthusiasts.
None of the above is easy, of course, but the South Shore is blessed with a dedicated, intelligent workforce. We’re confident they’ll find solutions that will benefit our area for decades to come.