On Politics: A quick history lesson on Incline Village (opinion)
It’s almost the Summer Solstice and a substantial increase in vehicular traffic, trucks towing boats and recreational vehicles parked aside the road is a sure harbinger that snowbirds and second homeowners are returning for our unbeatable summer weather and outdoor activities.
A sure sign of a surge in tourism is the diminished availability of hotel rooms and rentals.
Since it also is an election year it occurred to me that many part timers and new arrivals may be unfamiliar with the political history of our little mountain community and how certain differences in outlook came about. As it’s also approaching Independence Day, I decided to offer a historical summary borrowing a literary style from our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln.
Two score and 17 years ago (June 1, 1961 to be precise) our founding fathers brought forth upon the North Shore of Lake Tahoe a new Nevada community (called “Incline Village General Improvement District or IVGID), conceived in spectacular natural beauty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, yet recognizing that as life progresses some make a lot more money than others.
Not surprisingly those in higher income brackets despised paying state income taxes, which made a ready market for real estate in the new community since Nevada has no income tax.
Having the power to levy taxes but with nobody living here to pay them, the founding fathers issued tax anticipation bonds using the proceeds to build roads, water and sewer systems. This resulted in buildable lots. Next they sought to market the lots to people who would move here and build homes. They targeted airline pilots who were highly compensated and were free to live anywhere because they could always catch a hop to wherever their plane was based. As technology made telecommuting practical, executives from many other industries fled high income tax states and built or bought homes in Incline Village.
In 1965 IVGID added recreation to its charter and that created the political divide that can be seen today. Some Incline pioneers (let’s call them the “Hatfields”) welcomed acquisition of beaches, golf courses and a ski hill as major attractions for tourists, a sort of “Cony Island” surrounded by devastatingly beautiful scenery.
Other Incline pioneers (let’s call them the “McCoys”) wanted exclusivity and minimal demand for recreation facilities, a sort of “Sleepy Hollow” with a crystal clear lake and snowcapped peaks. IVGID filed a restrictive covenant, which provided that the beaches could only be used by property owners (which pleased the McCoys) and “their tenants and guests” (which displeased the McCoys).
In 1996 the Crystal Bay General Improvement District found that its water system did not meet federal standards and would cost a heap of money to improve. As a result it dissolved and merged into IVGID. Crystal Bay property owners were assessed IVGID’s recreation fee but not the beach fee because they were not within the restrictive covenant. This made some owners unhappy and they joined the McCoys in agitating for change.
Then a California lawyer moved here, affiliated with the McCoys and began a series of lawsuits and ethics complaints against IVGID and its trustees, all of which were dismissed. At the urging of Hatfields, IVGID sued the lawyer for bringing frivolous lawsuits and costing taxpayers attorney fees. IVGID won.
McCoys continue to attend IVGID trustee meetings to criticize and argue. As Lincoln (kinda) said: “Now we are engaged in a great civil war testing whether that (community) or any (community) so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.”
And so, snowbirds and new residents, that’s how we got where we are. The current slate of candidates for IVGID trustee are divided along these traditional lines.
When you vote this November you will have to decide whether you are a Hatfield or a McCoy.
As a Texas politician once said: “The only thing in the middle of the road are dead armadillos.”
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada State GOP Central committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.