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Tackling problems working together

Ted Long

Our city, much like our country, is very much divided. Nationally we argue about a war and the lack of a real energy policy that to some, ties us to that same war. If its about oil, then it seems that a policy and real effort, such as the “going to the moon” effort of the sixties, would create a solution that would free us from oil dependence and the domino effect of foreign resentments and hatred.

Our city also struggles, torn between those connected to the past, yearning perhaps for a rural existence much like the days when cattle filled our meadows and life was certainly simpler. I would imagine that we all, in some way, miss those days. Fifty-cents-a-gallon gas, the Sunday afternoon ride to visit friends and relatives and a three-bedroom home under $50,000. And others, who seem certain that the “old days” are gone forever and if we are to maintain any kind of middle class we have to be more realistic and progressive, to survive.

All of us running for office lately seemed to want a middle class for our town. Each candidate claiming to have the secret, to new and better paying jobs and affordable housing, yet those same candidates seem opposite in views or methods.

If there was ever a time to work together this is it. Most of the lake has gone to the wealthy, the last holdouts are Kings Beach, which is making the change from housing the working class to the more North Shore standard of bigger is better, and our city.

The City of South Lake Tahoe is really the only area remaining with a realistic shot at a real middle class existence, affordable housing and jobs. While some of us have been “doom sayers” and the evidence has been strong – teachers laid off, city workers living off the hill, real estate prices soaring and recently yet another major commercial closing with the loss of another 70 jobs – I believe there is still time to make the changes needed, if that is what is truly wanted.

What creates a successful middle class are good schools, shopping and jobs. What creates good jobs, shopping and good schools is a strong middle class. It is a true dilemma. Only working together can we solve this seemingly contradicting problem.

I say if the commitment is here to save our lifestyle as we have known it, if that is what we want, then let’s set aside our differences for a moment and in that moment let’s find what we have in common. Let’s draw on those strengths and work together, business and labor, growth and no growth, young and old, first to define our goals then, through that synergy, to get it done.

Personally, I would like to see a wonderful new civic center, the three government entities coming together, creating community and cost savings. Our southern entrance needs to be cleaned up and new and better shopping, residential and recreational facilities created for that area. Highway 50, Lake Tahoe Boulevard, needs to be improved with sidewalks, bike paths, lighting and landscaping. All these things are on the drawing board but need a real community effort to make them a reality.

It seems to me that in our differences we have found the energy to accuse and attack, to insult and threaten. Imagine what we can do working together. I am not sure what it takes to get on with it, forgiveness, big people or just getting off it, as we used to say in the seventies. I for one would like to see a new day for our town. I say, without working together, the future is predictable and that future, without our joint effort, is one without affordable housing and jobs.

Perhaps a huge town meeting, or let’s begin with the elected leaders and appointed decision makers getting together and making peace for the good of the whole. My congratulations to Norma. My advice: Don’t write a book. Anyway that’s what I think. Thanks for listening.

– Ted Long is a South Lake Tahoe city councilman, and former candidate for El Dorado County supervisor.


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