Opinion: The Press Democrat recently reported that more people are leaving Sonoma County than moving in. Crumbling roads, traffic congestion, unaffordable housing, homelessness, firestorms. Our quality of life is disappearing to accommodate the wine/tourism industry and the investor class.
The Supervisors want to expand the airport to allow private jets and more tourism. The cost is too high……The NAPA Vision 2050 group held an economic forum for citizens who want to protect their neighborhoods from binge tourism.
The tourism industry is known to create low paying jobs, higher rents, increased traffic and GHG, fractures communities with events and parties, pressures bad land use and zoning, skyrockets property values, loss of young people who can no longer afford to live where they grew up and disenfranchises locals. Stores that once cater to locals become boutique tourist stores, workers commute due to high rents and we become a population of have and have not’s.
The group held this forum to educate and provide transparency to what is happening in our communities so solutions can be found in a tourism based economy where everyone benefits and not just the few. Below is an excerpt from the forum for those who were unable to attend. What stage is your county in?
5 Stages: “Tourism’s Faustian Deal” – George Caloyannidis: NAPA Vision 2050
- Stage 1: Tourism is purely supplemental and supportive to an existing economic base.
- Stage 2: The local economy increases its reliance on tourist dollars and is perceived by local governments and businesses as essential.
- Stage 3: The dislocation of the local population begins, a gradual tearing of the social fabric, the proliferation of low paying jobs with the associated concentration of outsider investor wealth at the top.
- Examples: Neighbors move out and part-timers or vacation rentals proliferate: neighbors do not know or talk to each other.
- – Low paying jobs proliferate – the income gap widens – only the wealthy are “thriving”
- – Housing is not available – workers have to commute in creating more traffic congestion
- Stage 4: By this stage, the process is irreversible. The deficit economy of tourism becomes evident as the wear and tear of the infrastructure requires ever increasing funds for maintenance and further destructive expansion. (Taxes, use and mitigation fees).
- Stage 5: The Faustian deal is complete: Local government has negotiated itself into the corner of no alternative than the vicious cycle of even more and more tourism to pay the bills. It never catches up … the infrastructure erodes … once thriving communities are in tatters both in terms of infrastructure and social capital.Tourism then moves to other destinations – and the cycle starts again – devouring once thriving communities and locations with authentic character.