Welcome new Tahoe locals, now please vote (Opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Welcome new Tahoe locals, now please vote (Opinion)

Suzanne Roberts
Guest column

Walking our dog through the neighborhood, we greet Fred the chow-chow, our neighbor Lynne, the couple down the street on their e-bikes and we head for the trails. Even though we have an influx of visitors, especially on weekends, we encounter many of the same people out riding their bikes and walking their dogs. We wave hello to some, stop for a quick chat with others.

Since March, I’ve noticed many new people walking the streets, biking and hiking the trails. They aren’t the locals I’ve been waving to for decades, but they aren’t weekenders either. They’re second homeowners who are now living in Tahoe fulltime or they’re new homeowners, here because the pandemic has meant they can work from home.

Houses that have sat vacant for as long as I can remember are now full of life. I wondered just how many have now made Tahoe their home, so I asked South Lake Tahoe real estate agent Jennifer Fortune.

She said, “It’s really hard to get any statistics in this town, and for example for the 2020 census, I heard South Lake Tahoe has one of the lowest turnout of info anywhere in the state. It’s way too early to tell how this new COVID work movement affects our town. The only noticeable impact so far is the pressure they’re putting on housing prices — it’s very competitive and pushing out locals who want to buy.”

I asked a number of longtime locals for their take, and like Lake Tahoe Community College English instructor Mary Cook, many welcome these new residents, as long as they learn to live in our unique setting. Cook said, “I’m for having more locals live here. If they are putting down roots here, maybe they will care more about Tahoe’s land and people — and vote for change.”

I, too, am hoping our new residents will take a real interest in our community, and that means voting in our district, and there’s still enough time to register before November’s election (http://registertovote.ca.gov).

Here in El Dorado County, we have a tight congressional race, and the incumbent has never been Tahoe-friendly; he does not believe in science, so he’s not interested in anything that will mitigate the dangers of climate change; he has also refused to protect our environment.

In 2017, he voted for a bill that removes the casualty loss deduction, making it harder for homeowners to recoup losses due to wildfires—something that has been on all of our minds these past smoke-filled weeks. He also voted against the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act, which supports deferred maintenance projects on federal lands, including our fire-prone forests.

Clearly, these are issues that directly affect us here in Tahoe, though he doesn’t even live in our district; he lives in Thousand Oaks, a place I know well because I grew up there, and living in this Los Angeles superb couldn’t be further from our lives here in Tahoe.

We’ve been at the mercy of the rest of our county’s opinions because we represent a smaller population, but with the influx of new locals, that’s changing. Maybe you have felt that in your previous hometown of Sacramento or San Francisco, your vote didn’t really matter. Now is your chance. Here, your vote will make a real difference to our beautiful mountain community.

Welcome to Tahoe — now please vote.

Suzanne Roberts is a South Lake Tahoe resident

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