Ribaudo column: Tahoe’s housing, mental health issues should be top priorities
Shifting priorities. For as long as I can remember the primary concern the Lake Tahoe community faced was the protection and enhancement of the lake, and for a good reason.
The lake is recognized by most everyone as the source of who we are. The efforts have included somewhere around $2 billion over the past 25 years in environmental improvements and progress has been made. But our world has changed and so has the community’s needs, and housing and mental health have emerged as critical issues. It has become clear to me that concern for the environment as the top priority needs to be shared with the same focus on concern for housing and mental health.
Concerning housing. The only way I think we will see improvement and the investment needed to build needed workforce housing is to create the focus and effort we have seen with the environment. Protecting Lake Tahoe has spawned an industry that has resulted in funding and programs; that same focus and purpose need to happen with housing.
We will not get it done with just meetings and blue-ribbon panels, and it won’t get done with just the public sector and community groups focusing on the effort. It is time for the private sector to step in and lead this effort by forming a workforce housing coalition that includes the casino industry, Vail, the lodging industry, Barton Hospital and Aramark, along with the college, school district, the city, etc. Those groups must step forward and become actual project proponents.
If the housing problem doesn’t get fixed and these employers don’t step forward to be part of figuring out this complex problem, they will be seen as a big part of the problem.
LimeBike Blues. I have watched with interest the introduction of the LimeBikes that have been placed in South Shore to encourage people to ride instead of using their cars. No question that problems occurred, and it makes no sense to point fingers at this point.
What is important is what we can learn from the situation. What has become obvious is that the introduction of new products, services and experiences can be messy and imperfect. We often assume this process is ready, aim, fire, but it really isn’t. It’s ready, fire, aim.
Can we step back and learn from this and how to make the introduction of new ideas in South Shore much better? Or do we continue in the same “new idea, meets resistance, becomes political, splits part of the community, etc., etc.” model we have seen? Change will continue to occur; can we find a better process to adopt new ideas? Or not? What is not acceptable is the vandalism that has occurred with the LimeBikes. Those responsible have done nothing but damage the reputation of our community.
The Big Picture
The more I read about it, the bigger the disaster becomes with regard to the California retirement system. CALPERS, which is responsible for the public retirement system, is over $100 billion short of what it needs. Those funds come directly from the taxpayer, reducing the funds available for community services. Not sure how we sustain this problem with a tourism economy.
If you haven’t been yet, check out the new Verde Mexican Rotisserie at the Y. It’s the second location, with the original in Meyers. Just as tasty but a lot closer.
It’s a wrap
I had the opportunity to attend the Creating Equilibrium Conference at Squaw Valley over the weekend and what has become clear to me is we need bigger ideas to solve the major problems that confront South Shore. Our incremental thinking is too small. Big thinkers and problem solvers wanted.
Carl Ribaudo is a columnist, consultant, speaker and writer who lives in South Lake Tahoe. He can be reached at email@example.com.