VIDEO: Transit and economic diversity discussed at council candidate forum in South Lake
Affordable housing and the Loop Road Project have been widely discussed by the South Lake Tahoe city council candidates — and the Tahoe Chamber’s Council Candidate Forum on Sept. 20 was no exception. Though these two topics are undoubtedly the hot button issues of the local election, other important topics, like transit and economic diversity, were discussed by the eight of 10 council candidates in attendance for the forum.
John Shearer: “Look at the successful ski areas: Park City, Steamboat … Let’s make [public transit] free. I don’t know how we’re going to pay for it, but we can figure it out. I would go to them and ask them how they paid for it. Look at some of the successful ski areas and how they do it. I was very surprised — I’ve skied a lot of places in Colorado, all over Park City, and I couldn’t believe that you didn’t have to pay to get on the bus.”
JoAnn Conner: “I consider transit to be bicycle and pedestrian as well. As a member of the recreation JPA we advanced the bike paths all the way from Meyers to Round Hill and it was instrumental in getting the snow kept off the paths all year round … As far as mass transit goes, I’m a firm advocate that you will never get people out of their cars until you have better public transportation. I would like to see the city partner — we did it before many years ago — to produce a better mass transit system where we have smaller buses that run more frequently using more green energy.”
Trey Riddle: “I like the multi-modal aspect of the Mobility 2035 project. I, myself, ride my bike to work. There’s only two days this summer that I didn’t and that’s because I carpooled, so I live it. We’re a one-car family intentionally, but until you make it that people feel safe on the roads — because I promise you I don’t feel safe when I ride my bike on the road and in fact I got hit by a car on Labor Day weekend. They are not going to get out and get other cars off the road. I think that’s a priority we should look at — making it so that people feel safe out there.”
Jason Collin: “The lack of an effective transit system in our community has huge environmental costs as well, so I think we really need to address it on that front. There are many other towns that have done this in a free, fun and functional way. So we definitely need to come up with a solution. I don’t know where that funding mechanism comes from; I’m not sure if there are federal state monies that can be used for that. In the short term we need to focus on our sidewalks and our trail network and clearing the trail network that we have because the bike paths were not clear much during the wintertime because I used them and they were not.”
Tamara Wallace: “We need to diversify our economic development. Our town factory is tourism, and that by its very nature is seasonal because of where we live. If we were to diversify and get some of those tech companies and bring in additional primary jobs. Those are the jobs that this kind of community needs. We need those dollars coming from outside in order to support the economy within. We just have to find time to make it a priority. My understanding of the tech industry is that part of the reason they don’t come here is because there is unstable Internet access because of the very nature of the Sierras … so the tech industry may or may not be the answer; but if we could somehow manage to make that Internet connection more stable, that is the answer.”
Ted Long: “Let’s face it. We aren’t going to start manufacturing here. We’re not going to get a Tesla battery plant or something like that. We are in the tourist business and with most of the suggestions that have been made, the biggest obstacle is not the Internet, it is housing. The housing crisis, I promise you folks, is far more serious than you can imagine. We are just on the fringe of it; if you look at the valley and some of the seashore communities, it’s huge. What we can do though is increase the number of businesses to the business we already have and that in my opinion can best be served by a workable convention facility — a place where people can come in the shoulder season. When we were promoting the convention center some years ago, when I was president of the League of California cities, I personally could have signed up 300-400 organizations to come here with their American Express cards and hungry to fill our restaurants, fill our hotels.”
Brooke Laine: “A lot of great things have been said here. But one of the things that I think just having been born here and grown up here, we used to be even more seasonal than we are today. So Heavenly used to only open, we hoped, in November, and shut down somewhere in April. Now you look at Heavenly and what they are doing at the top of their mountain to make recreational sports throughout the year, so now they are starting to hire a workforce that we are seeing kids that they are lifting in the wintertime but they are working the adventure park in the summertime. So I think we also want to encourage more of that. Obviously we can’t rent boats in the winter, too dangerous, but we can encourage year-round workforce.”
Patrick Jarrett: “A great percentage of the seasonal work in this community isn’t really in the city. There’s a lot out in the county at the ski resorts and the beaches, Camp Rich and Zephyr Cove. Somebody said it earlier: intellectual capital. Look at what’s going on on Ski Run Boulevard. That’s a great idea. Great project. Let’s get some businesses excited about this. Let’s redevelop that area some more, because that’s in the city. That’s something that we can help them out with and that’s going to create more jobs. The ski rental agencies, a lot of them switch over in the summertime and sell bikinis and stuff like that. Some of them switch to bike shops. It’s the intellectual capital that we need to invest in. Let’s get some businesses going up here. It’s not build it and they will come. It’s what are we doing to keep them here.”
To view the full, two-hour candidate forum, visit Tahoe Daily Tribune’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/TahoeDailyTribune.
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