The Problem of “Localism” at Tahoe and How Friends of Lake Tahoe Remedies the Problem
The full time resident population at Lake Tahoe is small in number. Most of the revenue generated at Tahoe for Placer’s coffers, and those of other counties in the Basin, comes from non-resident vacation property owners who can’t vote and, for the most part, have had little voice in decisions made regarding the region. Those who are politically active, knowledgeable, and reside in the Basin are even fewer in number. Moreover, they also have politically more of a local village mentality than a regional Basin consciousness. This means, for example, that those who live in Incline Village see themselves as an entity unto themselves, detached from what goes on in Tahoe City, Kings Beach, Meeks Bay, South Shore, and so on.
It is what is called a “NIMBY” attitude (“not in my back yard” – with the back yard being quite small). Unfortunately, this is a factor that actually promotes political weakness rather than strength among the full time residents. Residents outside of Kings Beach, therefore, would be inclined to be disinterested in the biomass plant, falsely believing that it would have no impact on them. While this defies common sense since air pollution travels wide and far in a basin, it is a political reality that must be grappled with.
As a phenomenon, this enhances the power of county government (Placer in this instance) as the single organizing element that has tentacles into every “village” under its jurisdiction. It can monitor each and play one off the other while building and crushing alliances. Working in collusion with the other counties around the lake (that also sit on TRPA’s Board) in an “I’ll help you if you’ll help me” fashion, they can collectively dominate the lake by controlling the villages and TRPA. The counties call the shots, the villages are collectively unorganized, and the non-resident home owners have no say because they have no organization of their own.
The establishment of Friends of Lake Tahoe as a nonprofit 501 C4 public benefit corporation changes this and provides the non-resident property owner, regardless of what “village” their property is located in, political influence in local decision making. We advocate for, lobby for, and represent this group to assure that they have a voice in the local policies that impact them. We are not member based; we are population based.