Beware the siren song of the destination resorts

By Pam Cosmo of La Pine, Oregon. Pat describes herself as a "freedom-loving,agri-business hating, ex-newspaper woman."

About five years ago, I moved to Deschutes County from South Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is a world class vacation destination, and I am all too familiar with the unintended consequences that resort development entails. I was the special sections editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune when re-development was just beginning. I used to write about its progress.

I lived in South Lake Tahoe for almost fifteen years. When we got there in 1989, Tahoe was a small town populated for the most part by old hippies from the Bay Area, the offspring of local homesteaders, and Washoe Indians who had been there forever.

It was kind of like here, actually. Lake Tahoe and the mountains and the streams were spectacular and lent themselves to the development of the tourist industry, once the mining of gold and silver in the valley panned out. Family-owned casinos, like Bill Harrah’s, and nice hotels, restaurants, and small ski resorts thrived. They employed local people and they did pretty well. The population grew, a hospital and schools were built and tourists were attracted from all over. It was a nice place to live and raise your kids. The schools were fine, the neighbors were friendly, nobody got rich, but you could go skiing in the winter and fishing in the summer and life was good. Local kids grew up to be teachers, auto mechanics, ski instructors, restaurateurs, store owners, car dealers, and the usual assortment of small town staples.

Time passed, though, and it was the nineties. Money had trickled up. The mega-rich had money to burn and needed to put it somewhere. And, they liked to play – hard. To keep up and compete with Aspen and Vail and other resort areas that were the playgrounds of the privileged, Tahoe had to “re-develop.” We were convinced by the Chamber of Commerce brain trust that it would behoove all of us to tear down all those “unsightly” dumpy little hotels and gift shops and build a massive new complex combining a ski resort, a convention center, a retail complex, huge fancy hotels, timeshares, and a tram going all the way to the top of the mountain. Spectacular!! All those new jobs! All that money flowing in! Everybody had dollar signs in their eyes.

But, here’s what happened: the family owned businesses like Harrah’s got bought out by big international tourist and entertainment conglomerates. The first thing they did was to fire most of the local staff and replace them with an independent housekeeping entity that paid lower wages and provided few benefits. They recruited on a large scale with international employment mills, hiring people from Mexico and the Philippines and the former Soviet Union’s lesser satellite nations. These people proved to be exceptionally fertile, and soon the schools were swamped with students that required English as a Second Language. Since these people had no insurance, they also had to rely on the small hospital’s emergency room for much of their medical care. Now the hospital is perpetually on the brink of bankruptcy. For the first several years, the schools were overwhelmed with all these children. But now families can’t afford to live in Tahoe anymore, so schools are closing due to lack of attendance. My son’s former cute little middle school on the Nevada side, just closed. Sixth graders will attend the high school next year. So did a middle school on the California side. I just found out that the Montessori School is closing as well. The better paying jobs at the college, the City, and the County all have to be staffed with those who are bi-lingual to deal with the fact that the town is now over a third Spanish speaking.

Huge mansions have been built to cater to the rich retiring from Southern California and second homes for those coming in from the East Coast, Asia and Europe. But, they have no interest in investing in the infra-structure, and so they vote “no” on all projects that would involve increasing taxes to fund schools, roads, fire departments, etc. Keep in mind that each rich person requires about ten poor people to attend to him. “Service” implies “servants,” after all. And, they want to keep as much distance from these servants and themselves as possible. A gated community on the North side actually petitioned a Safeway grocery store for their own grocery line so they wouldn’t have to stand in line with the riff-raff from town. Here in Deschutes County, that “riff-raff” would be you.

The financing of these mega developments has been somewhat of a nightmare as well. Projects have been started and halted and re-started depending on the ability to secure and match financing. Resorts and hotels have been sold and re-sold, and many now belong to international corporations whose allegiance is to their stockholders, not the local population. Those initial assurances that all would be well and the locals hired first, the community’s traditions cherished, and all that, have long since disappeared.

Many of those hard-working service workers, who are paid by how many rooms they can clean in a day, fortify themselves with drugs to keep up the pace. So now, there is also the meth problem to deal with. Their children, having no parents at home to supervise them, have formed gangs to give them a sense of “family” and protection, and now big fights break out regularly between rival groups at bus stops and on the school grounds. And, the crime rate has increased dramatically. It’s not the people I blame; it is the corporations that have set up this system of exploitation in both countries that have created this desperate situation. They make money on them from both sides. And, if the workers or their relatives are incarcerated, they make money on that, too, since the prisons have been privatized.

So now, when you go to Tahoe, you’ll see a beautiful, up-scale, world-class resort destination. But, the people working these palaces of privilege are living in barrios and taking the bus. The bus schedules are only printed in Spanish, by the way. There isn’t enough money to print them in English, too. The former local trades people are moving away in droves because the housing costs have gone up so high. People have to jam into apartment slums to live there. Unless you want your kid to grow up dealing Blackjack or carrying the luggage of a fat cat from Shanghai, you must move. The mom and pop places that gave Tahoe its character are now replaced by big franchise stores just like the ones the tourists have at home. The smaller places can’t afford the commercial space. Of course, the fancy new gourmet stores and up-scale theaters are also too expensive for the locals to frequent. They can’t even afford to park downtown. Parking used to be free. It is not their town anymore. The locals now live on the edges.

Another disturbing element is that the tourist trade is ever more vulnerable to the vagaries of the climate, the discretionary income of people from other countries as well as our own - and the price of oil. If many of the airlines fold, and the State workers stop driving the hundred miles to vacation, business will come to a standstill. The town will be crushed under the debt load that it took to re-develop. But, when the citizenry is composed of part-time residents, time-share vacationers, and workers who make subsistence wages and barely speak English, who is going to provide the backbone necessary to pull through hard times? We all need to think seriously of these consequences or blow-back from the big-time tourist trade. It could happen here as well. Once the Resorts are in, “Resistance is Futile”.

I recoiled from living under those circumstances and sought a place far from this “development” nightmare. I moved to La Pine in Deschutes County. And, now, I am hearing the same pitch all over again. But, now we have the additional threats of the end of cheap oil, the financial/credit debacle, water wars, the inflation of food prices and the falling value of the dollar to contend with. That’s in addition to all the inherent damage that resort development accomplishes on its own. I understand that the water level has already dropped 2 feet due to the Thornberg Resort, and it hasn’t even opened yet! They are bringing in over a thousand homes and have built a 26,000 acre lake on land that doesn’t even have a natural stream? What are they thinking??

Trust me, we are looking at a train wreck in slow motion if large scale destination resorts proliferate. In attempting to make more money and increasing the tax base with rich outsiders, we will be destroying the wealth of the community and of the land. Instead, we should be pulling together to work within the limitations we can afford, utilize the talents of our residents, and take care of the people who live here. Think “Bed and Breakfasts” not big hotels. Think Disc Golf, not 18 hole golf courses. Think artist colony, writers workshops, fishing retreats, permaculture seminars, yurt manufacturing, organic farms and specialty produce, ranching and farmer’s markets, pony rides, and trading centers that feature locally made products.

We should be looking to create sustainable communities that localize food production, produce necessities that will no longer be imported due to the rising prices of transportation and manufacture. We should be supporting businesses that create jobs for the families that live here and produce goods and services that are regionally vital in the long term. We should work to make sure that the children who grow up here can find decent jobs and afford homes to live in. We need to focus on quality of life and conservation and preserving the incredible Northwest as we know it. Keep it simple. Keep it wonderful. If we do that, we will continue to be an envy of the world. If we don’t, and we succumb to the Destination Resort siren song, it will be lost. And, it may never come back.

Comments

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Pam's article is well worth reading and acting on. One of the problems with local elected officials is that they almost invariably see the positives, such as they are, and turn their eyes blindly to the negatives. With golf courses slurping up as much as a million gallons of water per day, it is another example of our national capacity for insanity to add more to a high desert area.

  • LT (unverified)
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    In news reports about the debate over destination resorts in Central Oregon, Sandy Lonsdale has been quoted. With such a strong advocate against the resorts, ordinary folks have a chance to beat the resort industry.

  • Observer (unverified)
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    Central Oregon LandWatch is one group that has taken the lead on this issue. Their site as at www.centraloregonlandwatch.org

  • MCT (unverified)
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    It's the same everywhere....if you have a cute little unpretentious town anywhere within spittin' distance of an employment hub, sooner or later the local trash will get shoved out or taxed out, and even the service people will not be able to afford to live near where they work. Although the cost of commuting these days may have a telling effect on whether there is anyone willing to take the piddly little lowpaying jobs. When an hour's work won't buy you two gallons of gasoline.....

    I have always liked the funky little towns and neighborhoods, and am sad to see so much upscale movement in some of the classic neighborhoods in Portland. There should always be a resident of two who doesn't care about how his property looks or conforms....keeps the taxes down. I don't want everybody to be like me, either. We can't all fit in the same box.

    And that's along the lines of why I prefer someplace like Rockaway or Waldport to Cannon Beach. The yet-to-be rehabbed old 50's & 60's buildings lend a simplicity and humility. And the time is not too far off when it will not be trendy to tear down perfectly servicable buildings & homes...it will be seen as it IS....wasteful.

    Too many people, everywhere. Period. I keep waiting for the conversation to come back around to Zero Population Growth. With all the smarmy talk about Smart Growth why is it we cannot overcome that biological urge to procreate? How about huge tax breaks for NOT having children?

    I would be nice to have self-sustaining communities. But I'm still waiting for that job I can telecommute to from a little old farm miles from nowhere......and failing that I want the jet-pack they promised us back in the 60's.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    ..., sooner or later the local trash will get shoved out...

    I had a debate with a Redmond city councilor when I opposed annexation. I made the point that the way we were paying for growth was forcing some people to move out of their homes to some other place where they could afford to live. His answer was along the line of "Tough luck. That's the way it goes." He was stating his personal opinion, but he could just as well have been speaking for the city council. This attitude is representative of too many other elected officials.

  • Rick Hickey (unverified)
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    Thanks for the reminder of how the Californians destroyed their paradise by not controlling illegal immigration and thier fleeing of that result is now destroying Oregon as well.

    How ironic that this story would be printed in a far left blog who support all the same stupid socialist agendas of that same place they fled from. Examples...

    Teach Kids english as fast as possible so they assimilate and can't be taken advantage of? (D)Susan Castillo says = bad idea.

    Employers verfiy S.S.# to prevent labor abuse/slaves/ID theft/tax evasion? (D)Jeff Merkley cancels possible vote.

    Proof of Citizenship to Vote=raise taxes/change leadership/enact new laws/etc. (D) Kate Brown says= not needed.

    Remove Sanctaury law so Police can ID Alien criminals to prevent further crimes? (D) Pete Courtney & (D) Jeff Merkley & (D) Ted Kulongoski = nahhh

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    How ironic that this story would be printed in a far left blog who support all the same stupid socialist agendas of that same place they fled from.

    What a pity that so many trolls dump their drivel on this nowhere-near-far-left blog.

    Now let's get back to the problem of destination resorts.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    Thanks plenty Rick. We here in America usually capitalize the word "English."

    Especially if we're calling other people stupid because of it.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Some good comments from east of the mountains. Unfortunately, Tahoe was a mega resort area in the 60's. Right after the Winter Olympics, resort and destination skiiing began developing. this was not a phenomena that waited for the 90's to begin.

    This is an excellent reminder, however for all those who would suggest rural Oregon replace lost timber and fishing jobs with tourist jobs.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    While I agree with the main thrust of this article, that destination resorts are not necessarily very good for the community they move into - the specific "facts" put forth in this article are troubling to me.

    It struck me that this was over the top. S. Tahoe has problems, but are they all related to "destination resorts"? I've had part of my extended family there since the late 1970's, and I have visited the family there many times. The resorts were there before my first visit. Back in the 1980's, Tahoe was a very nice place.

    Is this article really about destination resort based upon facts about S. Tahoe, or is it an anti-immigrant rant?

    So, I've started a little fact checking. That is to say, I've contacted my sister-in-law that works in the administration of the hospital, and who has a son (my nephew) in High School there. The first question I asked, "is the statement that the Hospital is in near bankruptcy true?"

    No. The Hospital is over $20 million in the black.

    More questions are being asked about schools, etc. I'll report as I get answers.

    One comment - the City appears to have made a big mistake with a contractor that tore up the main street, and then went bankrupt before finishing the job - leaving the City in a complete mess with no money to finish the job. Apparently the city government is in melt-down, "like watching a train wreck", but not necessarily related to "destination resorts" as much as just poor management.

  • Michael M. (unverified)
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    Wow, this piece is just soaked with xenophobia. Don't worry Ms. Cosmo, once the dirty foreigners ruin Deschutes County for you, there's still Idaho, where you can hobnob with all the English-speaking white-only "Mom & Pop" people you want.

  • (Show?)

    The thing about these rolling train wreck developments, is that they take decades to reall completely trash a place.

    I lived in Sisters in the late '60s and attended school in Sisters and later when they shut down the tiny Sisters High School, Redmond. Also attended church in Bend, where one of the main topics of discussion was the Californians who were moving in and changing the nature of our area from logging and farming to resorts.

    Yes Bend is a mess and has been for decades, with the above mentioned poor, being shuffled around by economics as development accelerated. I hate the fact that the open spaces where we used to ride horses between Black Butte Ranch (then an actual ranch) and Sisters.

    But hey, this is Murica, where we build houses, businesses and sporting arenas, and then tear everything down thirty years later, only to build the latest version of more crap on top of it.

    It's the main thing that we seem to produce now.

    More houses.

    If we ever got to the concept of using existing structures until they were no longer serviceable, like they do in Europe, the whole economy would wind up in the crapper, because we sure as hell don't produce any actual products any more.

    The only way to live in my home area of Central Oregon is to be in the construction or service industry on the low end or the resort or real estate bidness on the high end.

  • (Show?)

    The thing about these rolling train wreck developments, is that they take decades to reall completely trash a place.

    I lived in Sisters in the late '60s and attended school in Sisters and later when they shut down the tiny Sisters High School, Redmond. Also attended church in Bend, where one of the main topics of discussion was the Californians who were moving in and changing the nature of our area from logging and farming to resorts.

    Yes Bend is a mess and has been for decades, with the above mentioned poor, being shuffled around by economics as development accelerated. I hate the fact that the open spaces where we used to ride horses between Black Butte Ranch (then an actual ranch) and Sisters.

    But hey, this is Murica, where we build houses, businesses and sporting arenas, and then tear everything down thirty years later, only to build the latest version of more crap on top of it.

    It's the main thing that we seem to produce now.

    More houses.

    If we ever got to the concept of using existing structures until they were no longer serviceable, like they do in Europe, the whole economy would wind up in the crapper, because we sure as hell don't produce any actual products any more.

    The only way to live in my home area of Central Oregon is to be in the construction or service industry on the low end or the resort or real estate bidness on the high end.

  • urbanplanningoverlord (unverified)
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    I lived in South Lake Tahoe for almost fifteen years. When we got there in 1989, Tahoe was a small town populated for the most part by old hippies from the Bay Area, the offspring of local homesteaders, and Washoe Indians who had been there forever.

    I call B.S. on that statement. I spent time in South Lake Tahoe in the 1980's, and I remember big casinos right across the border in Nevada, and I also remember staying in a luxury development called "The Keys" or some such thing where all the houses were along canals that had been gouged out of the lake. There was plenty of luxury resort development in South Lake Tahoe in the 1980's.

    Now if the writer had been talking about South Lake Tahoe in 1949 ...?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    In fairness growth in Central Oregon hasn't been all bad. It has had some advantages. St. Charles Hospital and the local medical community can now take care of many problems that used to require a trip over the Cascades to Portland. OSU has a campus and prospects look good for a full four-year university program to serve this area east of the Cascades.

    However, the problem is that the development/real estate complex is the Trojan Horse out to dominate Central Oregon with corporate profits as their primary goal and sustainability and fairness when when it comes to paying for the costs of growth very distant concerns.

    The developers and real estate agents continually oppose system development charges to help pay for new infrastructure. The buck is passed to established residents, a good portion of whom are hard-pressed to pay their increases in property taxes.

    At the same time most architectural standards are very poor. "Boxes" would be a better term for what they claim to be "homes."

    Growth, in and of itself, is not the problem. It is how growth is handled or mis-handled. Too much of growth conforms to the latter.

  • Pamela Cosmo (unverified)
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    As the writer of the above guest column, I must apologize for at least one factual error: the water features of the Thornburg Resort are 85 acres. That is still huge for an area that has no natural rivers or springs. My subjective experience from living in Tahoe are my own, but are shared by many of the locals. I do not suffer from xenophobia. I do not consider immigrants "dirty" at all. I said that they are and have been exploited by international corporations that value money over people. It is true that the area has been a tourist mecca for a long while, but nothing like the mega-corporation influence in the last ten years. My point is that the middle class is being destroyed by this catering to the rich, and that sustainable communities must be based on a more reasonable approach that takes into consideration the depletion of resources, not endless "growth."

  • Pat Murphy (unverified)
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    I have read the comments section of this posting with interest. A couple of my own comments.

    "Sustainable growth" is an oxymoron. Unlimited growth is and has been just plain stupid. "If you aren't growing, your community is dying". That is real B.S. Ever notice what kind of land predominantly used for development? Prime farm land. I presume you have noticed that arable farm land is becoming righteously scarce and what there is left is so depleted that it depends on oil based products to grow much of anything.

    I have lived where there was heavy tourism, lots of destination resorts. I couldn't wait to get out of the area. I flat out refused to be a servant and to be wiping the a**** of the rich people that frequented the area. These places had a strong tendency to destroy local businesses and force evacuation of everyone without hefty incomes. That is what is/has happened in Tahoe.

    Here in Oregon the large pressure groups and some fed agencies are finally saying this is enough, plus local citizens are waking up to the negative aspects of destination resorts. With few exceptions, these resorts are being built to cater to the well healed. The corporations that run them have the primary concern of the bottom line. That means hiring the cheapest labor possible and that most often means imported labor.

    Let's get real here. Just how many playgrounds for the well to do is necessary for their enjoyment and the detriment of the community? What gives them the mandate for being the only ones to enjoy the really nice places left in this world.

    Ahh yes, social Darwinism and manifest destiny is alive and well.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Pamela Cosmo writes,

    "These people proved to be exceptionally fertile, and soon the schools were swamped with students that required English as a Second Language. Since these people had no insurance, they also had to rely on the small hospital’s emergency room for much of their medical care. Now the hospital is perpetually on the brink of bankruptcy. For the first several years, the schools were overwhelmed with all these children. But now families can’t afford to live in Tahoe anymore, so schools are closing due to lack of attendance. My son’s former cute little middle school on the Nevada side, just closed. Sixth graders will attend the high school next year. So did a middle school on the California side."

    So, as I noted in my prior post, I have called upon my in-laws that live is S. Tahoe to fact check this for us.

    As previously noted, the Hospital is not near bankruptcy, it is over $20 million in the black.

    Only one school closed in S. Tahoe. It was an elementary school that was closed for a two-year period until it reopened as a magnet school.

    There are more Mexican and other country workers in Tahoe than there were 30 years ago, but my sister-in-law writes that the high cost of living turns these people away, and that the population mix there is typical for California in general.

    Several businesses were bought out to build a convention center including a Taco Bell, 76 gas station, and a family restaurant. The construction was started, but due to the economic downturn is stalled with a big hole in the ground.

    My sister-in-law writes that the cost of living has shot up with the price of gas now at $4.69 per gallon, and milk at $6 per gallon - that due to this the middle class in S. Tahoe is shrinking.

    As for "developments", there is downtown development of time-shares and resort companies - but not actual "resorts" (like what we are talking about in Central Oregon). These are mainly lodging places for people who want to spend a few weeks a year visiting Tahoe - which has always been the foundation of the local economy.

    So - again while I agree with the writer of this guest column that destination resorts can cause problems, the "facts" she based her column upon have proven largely to be false.

    As progressive / liberal people, its important that we stick to the facts, and make our cases based upon those facts. We'd be as bad as the Republicants if we just made up facts.

    So, Kari and Blue Oregon - please discredit this author, and don't let her on again - her guest column is 90% fabrication.

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)
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    I'm told that there is a class of people in Durango, Colorado, known as "PUPIES," which stands for Professional Underemployed Persons Interested in Extreme Sports.

  • Pam Cosmo (unverified)
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    Well, it seems my column expressing my objection to the development of mega-resorts in Central Oregon has hit a nerve. My column was written as an opinion piece based on my memory of the events that unfolded while I lived in Tahoe. My observations were also founded on my additional experience of having lived in other deteriorating tourist destination locations such as Napa, CA, and also the country of Jamaica (Kingston and Montego Bay), where my late husband worked for Project HOPE. I did not anticipate being held to the journalistic standards of the Wall Street Journal, as I was writing as a citizen, not a reporter.

    But, speaking of the Wall Street Journal, perhaps there would be some interest in this piece from the Journal,

    “South Lake Tahoe is no longer the charming mountain town it once was,” according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal. Massive redevelopment and an influx of wealth in recent years have all but wiped out the old kitschy charm of Tahoe’s southern shore, author Marisa Milanese writes. “As the transformation proceeds, the area is trying to become all things to all people: an upscale resort town as well as a draw for the younger set looking for all-night clubs and tequila shots.”

    The article goes on to note that “many longtime residents have fled the area as home prices have climbed, a phenomenon seen in many aging resort towns, such as Atlantic City and Aspen, Colorado. In response, bumper stickers reading “Keep Tahoe Blue Collar” have recently emerged, a play on the environmentalist message “Keep Tahoe Blue.”

    People looking at the same dots often connect them in different ways. So, Mr. Bucknum’s sister-in-law is certainly welcome to her take on things. But she may have missed the editorial in the June 11, 2008 issue of the Tahoe Daily Tribune entitled, “Kingsbury’s end reflects transition on South Shore.” In it, the editor writes,

    “After 31 years of taking impressionable minds and filling them with knowledge, Kingsbury Middle School called it quits Monday.

    And that’s a shame.

    Kingsbury closed because it didn’t have enough students to fill classrooms. Students who would have attended the school in the fall now will be taught at Zephyr Cove Elementary School or Whittell High School.

    ….Kingsbury’s demise reflects a disturbing, ongoing trend on the South Shore: Families are leaving because they can fare better economically somewhere else. The migration is seriously rending the area’s social and economic fabric. Where other cities are furiously building schools as fast as they can to accommodate growth – which is good only where planning stays abreast of construction – the South Shore has just suffered another blow.”

    It’s good to hear that the elementary school on the CA side (that DID close due to decreased enrollment) was re-opened eventually. It would be a shame to have the building go to waste. That does not negate the fact that the enrollment in the school systems has eroded drastically. In 2006, from an article in the paper regarding the deteriorating status of the sports programs in the schools, it was reported,

    “Since 2000, Lake Tahoe Unified School District has lost more than 1,000 students and it hasn’t been able to replace them. A high cost of living and comparatively low wages aren’t attracting new families to the area.”

    If one were to call the Montessori School, you would find that it will be not be opening in the fall. So, that’s three schools, as I said.

    In my column, I said that I was not alone in the feeling that locals are living on the periphery of their own town now. A supporting Letter to the Editor was printed in the Tribune on 7/23/08. In the interest of conserving space, I quote only part of it: “I recently tried to visit Valhalla with my handicapped grandmother, who is wheel-chair bound, and was flabbergasted when I pulled into the street to find that they would not let me in unless I was visiting the Valhalla sites and buildings…This is absolutely absurd! I, a local and frequent visitor to Valhalla, cannot believe that once again the locals are put on the back burner for the tourists.”

    My caution against the financial risks of huge development, as opposed to smaller, localized, sustainable projects, is substantiated by the following article, also published in the Tribune:

    “After the project broke ground last June, excavation work was completed and the foundation was laid. But work stopped over the winter and has not resumed. Completion had been scheduled for fall or winter 2009…”Unfortunately, things change, and they have been changing at a rather rapid pace, “ Lane (the project manager) said. … The Lake Tahoe Development has invested nearly $100 million in the project and needs a loan of $200 million for the first phase. Finding funds in the current economic climate is very difficult, Lane said. As a result, he’s been in talks with foreign investors.”

    Therefore, “The Hole,” which is not going away in the foreseeable future. And, if we are lucky, I guess, the project will be funded by some prince in Dubai.

    Ironically, it was while working as a counselor for teenagers in residential treatment that my consciousness was raised regarding the language problems. I assisted one of my charges to get a job with Kentucky Fried Chicken back in 1991, as I recall. He was a good kid, with a Spanish surname who had come from San Jose. He was hired to work in the fast food place, no problem. But, after one shift, when they realized that despite his name, he did not speak Spanish, he was fired. One needn’t be an anthropologist to detect a pattern after a few years…

    I hesitate to comment on the quality of life for these teenagers, for fear of being burned at some mental stake for heresy, if I were to quote other articles from the newspaper that noted:

    “Gang activity has increased in recent weeks, with graffiti proliferating and a fight breaking out on Blackwood Road on Sept. 9 among 30 to 40 males, described as high-school aged or young adults, police said. The fight, which police called gang-related, was followed a few hours later by someone firing 13 shots at an apartment on Wildwood Avenue. Investigators said the two incidents appear to be related.”

    If Barton Hospital is now in the black, I am happy for them. I left the area in 2004. While I was there, I recall an on-going problem. My local sources are double checking my admittedly failing memory, and I have not heard back yet. But, the burden that under-insured people pose to hospitals and clinics is well-documented all over the country. It is a national crisis that is a disgrace among nations of the “developed” world. If Barton is immune, it would be a miracle.

    I don’t know why Mr. Bucknum objects so strenuously to my observations of life in a resort town. I can only guess that perhaps he is more acquainted or comfortable with having his luggage carried by someone else, rather than carrying it for others. I really have no idea which side his bread is buttered on, or what is it exactly, that he is defending with such zeal. But, I do object to his advice to kick me to the curb, that I be discredited, and his allegation that my column was “90% fabrication.” If I were him, I’d try to look a little deeper into the rational from his relative that “the cost of living has shot up” as the reason that the middle class is almost universally wiped out in tourist destinations. The exception that I know of is Las Vegas, where somehow, the process of collective bargaining for workers has been maintained.

    I continue my stance that sustainable businesses need to be encouraged that support the people who live in an area and their children, without destroying the wealth of the land or the character of the community. In a world of depleting resources and a collapsing dollar, hanging our hopes on mega-resorts will prove to be a tragic waste of valuable time, resources, and money.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Pam Cosmo, the author, writes above, "I don’t know why Mr. Bucknum objects so strenuously to my observations of life in a resort town. I can only guess that perhaps he is more acquainted or comfortable with having his luggage carried by someone else, rather than carrying it for others."

    If you can't debate on facts, you resort to personal slurs??

    Pam and all others, here's what's real. Pam posted her comments about destination resorts, and as a frequent visitor to S. Tahoe - they rang false. I visit family there, and my ratio of family time to casino time is probably 100 to 1, family being where I spend the most time. No one but me has ever carried my luggage in Tahoe, not once.

    I am also the one who posted regarding the Crook County election on Destination Resorts, and the success of the opponents of these resorts in taking them out of the comprehensive plan. In my prior posts, I attempted to take on the role more of a reporter, and did not add my editorial comments. I will now. I like most of the people here find the destination resorts to be a blight.

    So, while I am in favor of the general thrust of Pam's article, e.g. destination resorts aren't good for your community, I found her arguments based upon S. Tahoe to be questionable. So, I emailed the relatives in S. Tahoe and gave them the link to Blue Oregon. Upon reading it, my sister-in-law, who has worked in the financial end of the hospital for years, and is what I consider an Administrator (I really don't know her title), emailed me back. I then asked her specific questions based upon Pam's account. I then posted those answers here.

    In a nutshell, just about everything Pam stated as facts has proven to be untrue.

    So here I am, agreeing with some of the broad statements, but finding that the facts just aren't there.

    Don't take it personally Pam, take it professionally. If you intend to write for Blue Oregon or others, you need to sort out your opinions and your facts. You currently have your "beliefs" mixed up with your "facts". You can't do that and retain credibility. It is in that context that I have asked Kari not to let you post on Blue Oregon again.

    Here's the final email from my sister-in-law:

    "I forwarded the blog to Barton's cpa (and long time resident ) and she replied "The blog is factually inaccurate. This town was not founded on bay area hippies!!!! My grandparents established my roots here in the 1930s, so I do take it personally when people like that bang on our town and get it all wrong! Last time I checked, a hospital on the brink of bankruptcy would not be able to gobble up everything up in sight!" {Note: Barton is the S. Tahoe Hospital}

    The blog is not factual, I could address her "facts" one by one- if you want with true facts..... and you could post a blog back. The article was riddled with mistatements, some items were true, but many were not."

    I consider my sister-in-law, who has lived in S. Tahoe since about 1982 (her older sister lived there before that, but has since moved back to Oregon), who has a son in High School there, a credible source of data.

    Pam, you undermine us all (all of those opposed to destination resorts) when you don't get your facts straight.

  • murph (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Hmmm. Bucknum, I noticed you ignored all the Tribs' articles that were sited. And as for displaying facts, you might try other than third hand information from a relative. Sure don't seem more than opinion to me. As for the hospital, whatever it's financial situation is presently, it has not always be so. Ask you sister in law how they are financing the free emergency room care by the uninsured resort workers.

    I've got to admit, I don't quite understand what this is about. If you are so adamantly against destination resorts for it's effect on a community, is your sole concern in an op ed piece about some stats that aren't correct? Or you just enjoy nit picking?

    <h2>By the way, read your op ed piece on the metaphor of a band and the political party. Talk about opinion and no data. hmmm</h2>
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