Stateline Democrat vies for commission seat |

Stateline Democrat vies for commission seat

Susie Vasquez

Stateline resident Greta Hambsch said she is running for the District 4 seat on the Douglas County Commission in part because the county needs a Lake Tahoe representative during the development of the Lake’s regional plan.

Pathway 2007, an ongoing effort spearheaded by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, will chart a vision for the Lake over the next 20 years.

“Traditionally, the District 4 commissioner sits on the TRPA governing board. We need someone who lives at the lake on that board,” she said. “It’s critical for lake residents.”

Hambsch, 58, is a Democrat and will face will face planning commission Chairman Nancy McDermid, a Republican, in the upcoming general election.

An advocate for responsible planning of growth, she said development should be curtailed if the county can’t provide needed services, like police, fire and schools.

According to local officials, Douglas County needs another 45 police officers, a sign that the issue hasn’t been adequately addressed by county officials in the past, Hambsch said.

“If the sheriff’s office gets called to Topaz, services are affected here. Is that good leadership and planning?” she said. “The most important thing to consider head on, is how county services are being impacted by growth.”

“Nancy (McDermid) is business as usual. She’s been a critical part of county planning and development that’s occurred,” Hambsch said. “I provide a change, a different way of looking at the issues.”

Hambsch said growth controls previously imposed at Lake Tahoe have produced great results, but there were also some difficult consequences. People camped out for days to acquire their building permits and the workforce changed dramatically.

She expects Lake Tahoe’s new regional plan to have a kinder tone.

“We’ll be looking at how to maintain a sense of community and the economic viability of the area, but the major points will be protection of the lake and natural resources,” she said.

Douglas County officials want to retain and not sell water rights, but that desire needs to be balanced with private property rights, Hambsch said.

“The people need good leaders that don’t have a stake in, or are not influenced by developers,” she said.

More dialogue is needed before any fair conclusions can be reached, but she expects the decisions concerning water to be difficult, Hambsch said.

“I’m not going to minimalize this issue by suggesting I have the right answer now. That would be wrong,” she said.

If Hambsch wins, she will be the first Democrat to win a commission seat since 1942.

“It’s disconcerting to know I have an uphill road as a Democrat, but we’re not talking about issues concerning the state or federal government,” she said. “Quality of life is not a Democratic or Republican issue.”

She said elected offices at the county level should be nonpartisan.

It’s time for more open, fair government and more participation from residents of all backgrounds, she said.

“People need to have a choice,” she said. “I’m a new face and the choice is a big one.”

A graduate of the University of California, Irvine, with a bachelor’s degree in English, Hambsch has owned and operated a property management business, Accommodation Station Inc., at Lake Tahoe for 26 years.

In that time she has been active in public affairs, serving as president of the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, the Tahoe Tallac Association, Heavenly Ski Foundation and Whittell High School Boosters’ Club.

She is married to Lake Tahoe attorney Michael Hambsch and together they have three grown children. Daughter Kristin works with Hambsch in the property management business. Son Ryan is in the music business in London, and son Stephan works in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles as a stage-lighting engineer.

Although she readily admits to being a pretty bad golfer, she loves the sport. Other interests include reading, music, her family and just about any outside activity.

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