Editor’s Note, Sept. 7, 2023: The role in Tahoe Prosperity Center of the GearLab owner was corrected. Also clarification for the author’s calculations added.
By Brett Tibbitts
I was very much struck by Heidi Hill Drum’s July 13, 2023 opinion piece in your paper, titled Tahoe’s Ted Lasso Lessons.
As I read this article, I thought to myself, “Who does this woman think she is?” Her article isfilled with judgment, disdain, and condemnation of those who dare to disagree with her and her view of what Tahoe should be. How can this woman be head of a nonprofit agency? Her article is mean-spirited. She clearly has zero interest in working with those who disagree with her. Rather, she appears to want to demolish them so she can get her way. The Tahoe Prosperity Center is not about unification as its website proclaims; it is all about divide and conquer.
Heidi says every one of Tahoe Prosperity Center’s goals is focused exclusively on how to add housing for low and middle-income people. I have read Heidi’s Envision Tahoe Prosperity Playbook. Her statement about it being 100% focused on low and middle-income workers is just plain wrong. Indeed, her opinion article belies this statement. By my best calculations according to recommendations made in the Playbook, the Tahoe Prosperity Center is very much focused on bringing thousands of high paying jobs into Tahoe and increasing Tahoe’s population by 10,000 to 25,000 people. One of the businesses that Heidi supports, and whose owner is co-chair of Envision Tahoe, a TPC project, is GearLab, a tech lab that wants to develop a large tech center in Tahoe (see Heidi’s My Shot). Heidi and her cohorts want to build cities around Lake Tahoe that thrive independently of the lake. A very bad idea.
Sorry, I don’t buy that vision of Tahoe. To me, all of our visions and efforts should be about preserving Tahoe for future generations, not ruining it by bringing thousands more residents and visitors as the Tahoe Prosperity Center and many others are trying to do. This is not about NIMBYism, as Heidi will try to protest; it is all about preserving the lake and stopping over-tourism and over-development. Heidi and her group want higher buildings than currently exist around much of the Basin, with $2.5 million to $5 million condos. Just look at the Tahoe Beach Club, Latitude 39, and Nine 47 Tahoe projects approved by the TRPA in recent months. Where is the low to moderate income housing? Look at what TRPA and the Tahoe Prosperity Center actually do, not at what they profess to be doing.
Heidi also says Lake Tahoe had fewer visitors in 2022 than 2019. I am sorry, Heidi, but I will use my own eyes and experiences to judge that statement. Statistics are constantly used to mislead, in my opinion. There is no doubt in my mind as a resident of the East Shore that there are far more visitors today than in 2019, and that the lake simply cannot support all of these visitors. Look at the tons of trash left on Tahoe beaches after the Fourth of July.
Finally, one of my biggest exasperations with people like Heidi and her organization is that the same small group of people is attempting to ramrod through their vision of the lake on all of us, and it is not about preserving the lake. The Tahoe Prosperity Center is largely funded by other governmental organizations like the TRPA, Placer County, El Dorado County, Douglas County, and Washoe County, a circle of continual bloviating and bad ideas. This funding to Tahoe Prosperity Center goes on year after year with no board member of these county governments questioning it. Once again, follow the money. The money is traded between the same small group of people trying to enforce the same vision. I say vote them all out.
I recommend that Heidi turn her organization into a group that preserves the lake, like picking up trash and micro-plastics, as opposed to trying to overdevelop the lake.
~ Brett Tibbitts was a lawyer for 40 years and is a leader in the fight to keep Highway 50 four lanes and to designate it as a major evacuation route. He and his wife reside in Glenbrook, Nevada.