My View: Notes from the Front Row (Opinion)

Carl Ribaudo
Tribune columnist

Local Musings

The Caldor Fire aftermath. The differences are staggering. While life on South Shore has returned pretty much to normal, not more than 10 miles away in the forest leading to Tahoe, devastation is heartbreaking.

As you crest Echo Summit, the devastation is right before you on both sides of the highway. Scorched black trees tell the story of the destruction of the Caldor Fire.

Carl Ribaudo

Parts of the forest along the way have turned into industrial timber operations as crews come in and do the cleanup that is so desperately needed to reshape the forest to prepare for its rebirth. The fierceness with which the fire attacked us is incredible; 60 days from the spark to 100% containment in the process, over two hundred thousand acres burned. It is amazing how some houses were burned with just rubble left while others seemingly in the middle of the forest were spared. While here in the basin, we are getting back to ordinary waiting for snow for the holiday season, many lives have been dramatically changed. They are our friends, our fellow residents we shouldn’t forget them

The once beautiful forest filled with people camping, biking, swimming, hiking, bike riding is now the place of ghosts. It will take years, if not decades, for this forest to return. For many, it will not be in our lifetime. As the poetry tells us, the wheel turns, and now, we can perhaps watch and the simple pleasure of the forest coming back to life.

•It’s interesting to read the Baseline Report on the Tahoe economy from the Prosperity Center. It’s a good read and provides an excellent overview of where the economy is and its challenges. Unfortunately, the same report in one part or another could’ve been written 30 years ago, 20 years ago, or ten years ago. The economy is pretty much the same, and as the report indicates, it is increasingly concentrated in tourism. While the report outlines the need and benefit of economic diversification, the challenge has become more significant over time as the lack of housing is in even greater need. I have always been a big supporter and still am for diversification, but it begs the question many destinations across the West ask. How can you diversify an economy so heavily dominated by tourism, given the lack of available housing? In another study, the Prosperity Center also analyzed housing needs, and the South Shore needs approximately two thousand housing units. In light of this, maybe we should be asking what the South Shore economy looks like if there are minimal numbers of new housing units? What does the economy look like then?

Many tourism destinations have matured over the decades and find themselves in similar situations; few have successfully diversified their economy. Can we make it happen?

•While not unheard of for a City Councilperson to get arrested for a DUI, the arrest of Councilman Bass raises an eyebrow and is troublesome for several reasons. First, a matter of judgment, driving Highway 50 at night while under the influence, and second the issue of “other substances found in the councilman’s car. For the moment, the jury is out while this situation continues to unfold, and the facts become more clear. It will be interesting to see how the District Attorney handles the case. To be clear, it’s not over, and the councilman may have an even more significant issue on his hands.

Don’t Miss

•It’s been great to see all the fundraisers to assist those that have lost so much in the Caldor Fire; A big thank you to everyone. It’s not over. Many will need much more help to get back on their feet. Give where you can. Let’s not forget anyone.

It is a Wrap

•A bomb cycle and atmospheric river used to be called a big storm. While this one storm is no solution to long-term drought. It’s an excellent start. Driving to Placerville after the storm, it was great to see the American River, which had been reduced to puddles, if only for the time being, raging. We have had a hell of three months, from smoke to fire to normal to now a bomb cycle atmospheric river. Never a dull moment. A nice mellow winter with some good snow would be welcome.

Carl Ribaudo is a columnist, consultant, speaker, and writer who lives in South Lake Tahoe. you can reach him at

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