We need to start formulating a South Shore Stimulus Package now.
Maybe it’s time to rethink a few things. For the past year, I have been writing about an economic slowdown in tourism and the resulting impacts on city and county budgets in both California and Nevada.
I could have never thought about the situation we now find ourselves. Looking around, it’s hard to see a silver lining, and we don’t even know what the legacy impacts of the coronavirus are in the broader society, this country, and the South Shore community.
We are in an emergency, and some may suggest I am insensitive to start thinking about what’s next. I get it. But while we are all being compelled to stay inside and implement social distancing policies; we need to begin now to think about a South Shore stimulus package.
As the federal and state government combat the coronavirus, others, including Congress, are finalizing a massive wartime-sized stimulus package.
In light of this focus on emerging from the crisis, we need to begin to look at what agencies, city and county government and the business community can do to help stimulate the South Shore economy and protect the jobs we have.
Simply, we will need to generate spending from all sectors of our economy from state and local government and the projects they can approve and fund and consumer spending from visitors, which in turn generates resident expenditures in goods and services.
We need to be prepared to turn the faucet on all the way when the time is appropriate, urgency matters as never before.
I am sure there will be many who have other ideas, and I am sure the usual suspects will be critical of mine.
But here is my list of short-term and long-term recommendations.
1. The TRPA must immediately suspend the May 15 start deadline for projects. This archaic rule must end now and encourage projects to start immediately and put people to work.
2. The City, Douglas County, and TRPA must immediately speed-up the approval process for projects. From a simple room remodel to new developments, the planning process must speed up dramatically, and planning departments should be required to state how long they are taking to approve a project.
3. The LTVA needs to be ready at a moment’s notice and at the appropriate time to re-energize its advertising to let the marketplace know when we are open for business again.
4. The private sector needs to step forward at the appropriate time with deep discounts to stimulate spending. The $18 hamburger and the thought of $295 a night hotel rooms needs to disappear for a while.
5. As the Federal government readies its one trillion-dollar stimulus package, we need to move the loop road ahead. It’s a one hundred-million-dollar stimulus package, and it needs to be shovel ready as quickly as possible to take advantage of this federal spending.
6. Douglas County needs to support the Event Center. This center has always been about the long-term not just to Douglas County but the benefits that will generate for the entire South Shore.
7. The city needs to stop defending Measure T and get this resolved. We can no longer afford to come out of recession with one hand tied behind our back.
8. The time is now for every organization, agency, and business from the biggest to the smallest need to rethink how they operate and how they can be smarter going forward. It is incredible to watch how many restaurants have figured out to be in the to-go or delivery business overnight.
9. All public sector agencies need to have an immediate hiring freeze and look at ways to reduce costs and report those cost-cutting measures and the amount out to the public by May 1.
10. The mayor needs to appoint a blue-ribbon committee to look at every possible way the City and its residents can deal with this situation.
Soon the city and Douglas County will feel the impact of the transient occupancy tax losses that generate services.
Soon residents will begin to see cuts in those services, and this will impact everyone, even those retirees who thought they were immune to the vagaries of the local economy.
Tragically, we are in this situation, but we are where we are.
We can do this, but we have to operate on a very different level then we have in the past. We need to move with an urgency that includes every agency, business, and individual.
While we’re holding in place physically to combat the coronavirus for now (and let’s hope it doesn’t devastate our local healthcare capabilities), it doesn’t mean our ideas and plans have too also.
We need to move now.
Carl Ribaudo is a columnist, consultant, speaker, and writer who lives in South Lake Tahoe. He can be reached at email@example.com