Tahoe Prosperity Center column: #TransformingTahoe
January 31, 2018
I was inspired this past week by two very different quotes. First, Carl Ribaudo's column on Jan. 25 and his comment: "It is time to change the way we deal with issues. We must move away from who yells the loudest to a new model that is focused on getting to the best-compromised solution."
That comment struck me because our community is stuck in the past — we spend too much energy blaming previous City Councils or leaders or planners or other people. But, is that important? The past is over and despite how much we might want to, we cannot change it. Of course there are always things to yell about — years ago it was the "evil redevelopment" at what is now the thriving Shops at Heavenly Village. Then it was the "hole in the ground" that is now retail and housing (albeit out of the price range for most locals.) And now it is the debate over vacation rentals.
There is no shortage of things to "yell the loudest" about, but it hasn't improved our community, environment or economy.
And, here we are in Lake Tahoe in 2018 with too much traffic; outdated motels right on our main highway; workers living in trailers held together by duct tape; seasonal workers needing to spend their evenings in the Warm Room because $10-15/hour is not enough to rent a local apartment; businesses closing on New Year's Eve at 9 p.m. because they didn't have enough staff to stay open; and the list goes on.
It is depressing if you are a glass-half-empty kind of person. I'm a glass-half-full person, which leads me to the second quote that jumped out at me.
This quote is from the yearly quote book produced by the global company, Eagle Protect, based here in South Lake Tahoe and one of the only B Corporations here in our region. The quote that struck me was by George Burns, who said: "I look to the future because that's where I'm going to spend the rest of my life." This funny comedian lived to be 100 years old and this quote is so meaningful.
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Think about it for a minute. We can't go back in time — we can only go forward. We can "look to the future" because that is where all of us will be eventually. We don't know how much time we have so shouldn't we spend it positively? Can we transform Tahoe if we work together instead of yelling? YES!
In Tahoe's future, the Tahoe Prosperity Center sees old motels turned into new workforce housing with residents walking to AleWorX at the Y, Blue Dog and Cold Water Brewery in mid-town and to the Farmer's Market on Ski Run Friday nights.
We see a mix of residents and visitors hanging out at the restaurants at the Shops at Heavenly Village listening to music every night.
We see less cars on the road because workers don't have to drive from Carson City, or Reno or even just the 5-10 miles from Meyers. We see new modular and tiny homes in place of trailer parks. And we see businesses staying open on New Year's Eve.
In order for Tahoe to be transformed, we must ensure it is a positive transformation for everyone — the residents who work in our tourism based economy; the business owners who have been here 20 years, 40 years or five months; the visitors who keep our economic engine humming and the community and environment we all care deeply about.
We can't pit the environment against the economy — we've done that in the past and it is time to look to a different future. We also see a new hashtag trend on social media: #TransformingTahoe — please use it to post photos of what you want to see in our community! And link it to the hashtag #TahoeProsperity so we can use those images as we work toward positive change.
Ultimately, we see a community working together on these changes. By fighting over every little nuance of every issue all we are doing is keeping the status quo in place and that doesn't help anyone. We will be releasing detailed data from our economic and community demographic report, Measuring for Prosperity, very soon. That data tells us that what we are doing currently isn't working and is why we are focused on the future.
The Tahoe Prosperity Center will be "getting stuff done" for our community, environment and economy. We hope you will take the advice of a 100-year-old, happy, funny guy like George Burns because he's right — the future is where all of us are going to live for the rest of our lives.
Heidi Hill Drum is the CEO of the Tahoe Prosperity Center, a Tahoe Basin-wide organization dedicated to uniting Tahoe's communities to strengthen regional prosperity. She has expertise in collaborative governance and is a 22-year resident. Heidi and her husband John are happily raising their two boys in Lake Tahoe.
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