Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bonanza Column 229 - Time to Take a Stand

A couple of weeks ago the Bonanza reported on the results of the 2010 U.S. Census as it applies to Incline Village – Crystal Bay and the Tahoe Basin as a whole. In case you missed it, the population of IV/CB has declined some 12% since the 2000 Census, and there are currently more vacant housing units than occupied. The Census does not measure second home ownership versus primary residences, but IVGID figures indicate that the former has increased at the expense of the latter, and the schools have shown a decrease of some 400 kids from ten years ago.
These figures will no doubt be very good news for the vocal minority who want to see Incline decline. The ones who would strip IVGID of all be the most basic powers and those whose misguided form of environmentalism boils down to having as few people in the environment as possible. For those of us who are concerned with the quality of life here and with a future for this community (and that group includes both full-timers and second home owners), it is bad news indeed.
In the same article, Kathy Carter, Washoe County Community Relations Director is quoted as saying that the decline in building due to the economy, along with the population decline, the community planning that was done several years ago is “not as urgent as it was.” I disagree and I suggest that Ms Carter’s view is both short-sighted and wrong.
In my view the economic situation of the past couple of years, while in many ways devastating, is a correction to an overheated economy that began in the ‘90’s and was based on a combination of greed and self-delusion – the first created a series of bubbles and the second allowed most of us to believe they would never burst. When they did, sanity returned with painful consequences to a great many people. I believe these consequences, while difficult in the short run, will return us to a more rational economy that, if we can remember the lessons learned, will give us much greater stability and sanity in the long haul.
If that view is correct, it means that planning for a community that is sustainable – economically, socially, environmentally – the “triple bottom line” – is more, not less important. If those of us who care about the future of the community as more than a retirement community allow a nebulous group of malcontents led by an outsider who has a very troublesome history of disrupting communities for reasons that are unclear to take advantage of the population decline and current economic situation to hijack that future, then we will have done a great disservice to a community we love and that they will leave. Similarly, if we allow eco-fundamentalists to block business efforts that are valuable and sustainable while environmental damage from current structures continue, then we are naïve indeed.
Since I began this series of columns on the subject of “vocal minorities” I have received the usual attacks – no matter how many facts I cite, I am accused of not having any facts by people who then cite none in rebuttal. I am told that I and those who agree with my views are the real minority, and the troglodytes are the majority, yet these accusations come from the same people over and over again, and they have yet to reveal who they count in their supposed majority. Typical demagogic tactics when you have no arguments that hold water and no people to pose them.
More importantly,, I have heard from many people who agree and who want to know what to do . My answer is simple: speak up – often and loudly. Make it clear that the so-called Village People and the eco-fundamentalists (and I'm distinguishing them from those of us who have a real concern for the environment, one that includes that people and businesses are part of it) are NOT the majority. Research and reveal their real agendas, and let the entities involved – the IVGID Board, the TRPA Governing Board, the Washoe County Board of Commissioners – that they have allies in holding the line against the forces of regression. There have started to be letters and guest columns in the Bonanza along these lines – we need more. It’s time to end the foolishness and take our community back from those who would throw sand in the gears of progress just for their own amusement or their own agendas.

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