Letter: ‘I am 100 percent in support of the re-alignment of Highway 50’
Once again, The City of South Lake Tahoe is being asked to make some big decisions. I am writing to dispel the misconceptions that the Loop Road Project will adversely affect local businesses. I am 100 percent in support of the re-alignment of Highway 50 out of our downtown core. As a long-term resident of South Lake Tahoe and a business owner of Pacific Crest Gallery in Heavenly Village, I will be directly impacted by the implementation of this US 50/Community Revitalization Project.
Early in the planning stages, I became involved with this project and educated myself as to the pros and cons of it. I listened carefully, not only as a business person, but as committed member of the South Lake Tahoe community. I participated in the Business Advisory Committee that looked at the who, why and how of this project.
“Who” benefits from the US 50/Community Revitalization Project? We all do! Visitors and locals alike. This project is more than just the re-routing of Highway 50. It brings with it funding for the economically and socially disadvantaged of our community in the form of affordable housing, sidewalks and street lights. The few that will be displaced from the route area will have the opportunity to live in housing that is new and beautiful. I benefit and you benefit; as a merchant in Heavenly Village, I am only one of many that support this project. The merchants that I have spoken to look forward to opportunities that this project brings to South Lake Tahoe.
“Why” does South Lake Tahoe need to support the re-alignment of Highway 50? South Lake Tahoe’s economy is primarily driven by tourism — 50 percent of the total jobs in the basin are directly related to tourism and/or visitor services. Though we possess many qualities that make our community a popular draw, visitation has dramatically declined for a number of years. South Lake Tahoe needs to reinvent itself not only as a tourist destination, but as a fabulous place to live. We need to revitalize our business economy by strengthening our infrastructure, to attract businesses that enhance and protect our environment.
Re-routing Highway 50 and narrowing Lake Tahoe Boulevard to create a main street will enhance the environment for outdoor dining, strolling and shopping (away from the roar of passing semi-trucks and cars). It will help create a vibrant and attractive commercial core, a gathering place for locals and tourists to interact. The City of South Lake Tahoe has the ability to overcome the largest obstacle of achieving this at a minimal cost. Having a major highway through the center of our beautiful city has been a huge encumbrance.
“How?” This project will create a far more welcoming environment for locals and visitors. This re-alignment will strengthen our local economy by increasing local and tourist business revenue. Re-alignment also opens us up to funding for affordable housing for residents displaced by this project. Having a vibrant and progressive community is attractive to developers of affordable housing.
The City of South Lake Tahoe has made so many wonderful improvements — the Harrison Street project, Lakeview Commons, Van Sickle Bi-State Park, etc. None of these projects were without controversy, but viewed in hindsight they are wonderful additions to our city. The re-alignment removes a huge obstacle and allows the city to take one more step towards achieving a world class destination location for our locals and guests.
This project addresses so many of South Lake Tahoe’s needs. Needs, that if not addressed through the funding of this project, will have to be dealt with from our city’s funds. I am not trying to imply that this project is free. I am only saying that it addresses now, with money that is free to our community, what we inevitability will pay for in the future — environmental improvement for water quality, affordable housing, air-quality improvements, plus pedestrian, bike and transit needs. These funds, if they do not go to us, will go elsewhere. Another community will get the benefits of these funds.
Owner, Pacific Crest Gallery
South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
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