To put some zip in the has been resort towns on Clear Lake, Lake County made all of their Highway 20 communities a “Redevelopment District.” As part of this plan to siphon money from schools and other special districts, they would make each town on the strip a themed tourist destination.
The Lake County planners rolled out meticulously designed facade concepts to create a new look for these whistle stops. Upper Lake was to become a “Wild West Town.” The town of Nice would transform into a “Tuscan Village.” Lucerne, home of a castle style resort from the 30’s, would be remade into an “Alpine Village” without snow (except for the kind produced by Redevelopment). Clearlake Oaks would focus on their network of oversized drainage ditches behind track homes, that they call “keys”, and become known as a Portuguese fishing village. Businesses on the Highway were encouraged to get with the program and invest in building these County facades.
However, new businesses and remodels were required to include these local themes in their building permits. Otherwise, why would existing businesses waste their money.
Then Redevelopment backed off when corporate money showed up. Franchises were scouting locations. These brand names had a brand look. They weren’t interested in local themes unless someone put their foot down. Lake County wagged their tail and rolled over so nothing was ever said about the theme plan to save North Shore again. Someone said they saw the County’s theme designs in a yard sale.
Often these out of County cookie cutter franchises plopped right down next to local businesses with paint still wet on their facades. The locals trusted government planners to follow through. The planners probably said they would call them in the morning too. I guess we can’t expect planners, paid for by money skimmed from special districts, to have the same level of commitment as people spending their savings on a shared vision.
The sick irony is that when someone does do something different to create tourist interest with their own dime its a code enforcement issue. The County never wavered in their zeal to destroy the Bat House, featured in movies, and the plans to turn Glenhaven into a gay tourist destination.
Maybe the ultimate redevelopment project would be to bust up this back water Gooberstan of Lake County and stick the pieces on to Napa and Mendocino Counties. Then our residents would be part of counties that work and our good-old-boy planners would have to find work.