RIBAUDO: Winds of change
It’s been said there is opportunity in chaos, and if that’s true, then South Shore has been through plenty – the worst economic recession in modern times, the hole in the ground, a dysfunctional city of South Lake Tahoe, and enough cynicism to last awhile. But change is in the air. In the past several weeks, several events have happened that may begin to show the future direction of South Shore.
• The Lake Tahoe Summit: Perhaps the most significant event was the Lake Tahoe Summit, where this year’s host, Senator Harry Reid, commented “The focus needs to remain on the environment of Lake Tahoe, but we must also focus on jobs.” This is a major shift from the approach that has guided this region for decades.
• Paradigm Shift at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency: The TRPA is in the process of shifting their thinking with regard to the regional plan to also consider the importance of the local economy and the community in addition to the environment.
• The Prosperity Plan: The release of the prosperity plan laid bare for all to see the poor economic situation and the resulting impacts on the local community. But it also outlined some needed strategic direction for the future of the basin including tourism, wellness and environmental technology.
• Positive shift in city government: For the first time in a generation the City of South Lake Tahoe is poised to have a new look and perhaps a new operating philosophy with the advent of a new city manager and three new council members to be elected in November.
• New Tourism Focus: The Lake Tahoe Visitor’s Authority is moving toward a more event and activity driven strategy, that appears to be taking hold and successfully adding to South Shore’s traditional revenue drivers of gaming and skiing.
• New Build: South Shore started on the fifty-six acres project which will transform the El Dorado Beach area for the better and offer locals and visitors alike a great place to experience the Lake. Next year Cal Trans starts on sidewalks and gutters.
Taken together these elements of change provide an outline of where the future direction of South Shore will be.
Clearly change is coming. Change is coming in a new integrated approach to protect the environment, strengthen the economy and the local community. It is clear the old thinking of just dealing the with environment is over. There is a smart recognition that the environment, the economy and the community are interdependent and we need to consider them together.
Secondly an economy built primarily on gaming and skiing needs to be broadened and should with the advent of geotourism and a focus on recreation and special events the tourism economy gives new reasons for people to visit.
Additionally as the Prosperity Plan outlined there is a need to go beyond tourism and look and developing wellness and environmental technology and additional parts of the economy, both in an effort to better the quality of life.
We are also seeing the outline of a different City of South Lake Tahoe, a philosophy of going it alone and council dysfunction will be replaced with a more collaborative approach and one that seeks to build partnership with other agencies and trust with the local community. Improved relations with other governmental agencies and a coalition building mindset will make the city an important partner instead of a “work around.”
Finally there is greater and more urgent focus on the local community. Consider new infrastructure development with 56 acres and sidewalks and gutters on Highway 50, both significant improvements to the local quality of life. Also consider the success and support for the recent “Sample the Sierra’ event and witness the addition of farmer markets in both Meyers and Ski Run. These are all outward expressions of a community that wants to be counted among South Shore’s priorities.
Long ago the South Shore tourism economy was built on a premise that visitors were first-and that local needs were not quite as important. This is no longer the case and while the local community recognizes tourism’s importance, the local community wants its quality of life needs addressed also, at least in equal fashion.
There is a key lesson for all of the agencies that regulate and govern life here: you must show continual improvement and change or change will be imposed on you, the status quo is not good enough. As such each organization must create a culture that embraces change and seeks to continually push for improvement. Simply put, good enough, no longer is. Winds of change are blowing.
– Carl Ribaudo is a contributing columnist to the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He is also a consultant, speaker and writer who lives at the South Shore. He can be reached at email@example.com. Read his full column and additional blog posts at http://www.tahoedailytribune.com/CarlRibaudo.
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After a period of dry, warm weather, winter returns this week to Lake Tahoe.