Editorial: Redevelopment priority should be the people
While any redevelopment project must decidedly bring a net benefit to the local economy, a second, more important caveat must also be met before the residents and their elected representatives move forward with the proposed convention center/condominium project in downtown South Lake Tahoe: Ensuring a net benefit for the workers and residents of this town.
The Marriott-anchored Heavenly Village in downtown (the completed “Phase 1” portion of the project) has arguably improved the aesthetic quality of the state line area of Lake Tahoe Boulevard. But redevelopment has many faces.
South Lake Tahoe residents, before they authorize their elected city council to move forward with the next portion of redevelopment, have to be satisfied that the project will not only improve the looks of a blighted area, but also bring jobs that are the lifeline of the local economy. Redevelopment should also be used to encourage local ownership of businesses. And then there is the question of character. How do we rebuild the character we lose when we tear down a whole section of town that has been there for decades?
The first phase of the downtown redevelopment has brought with it new jobs, but arguably few that offer long-term livable wages by South Tahoe’s cost of living standards. Over generations this can be a problem because fewer families will be able to live here, the workforce will become increasingly transient and those of us who remain will live among empty vacation homes. Does this improve the character of our community?
Retail development is the lifeblood of tourism, but diversity in the economy is equally important for the long-term survival of our sense of community. The goal of redevelopment should be to benefit the community first. Increasing property and sales tax revenue is great, but not if it costs us our community.
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