Thoughts on Idyllwild’s Recent Growth • Idyllwild Town Crier

Dear Editor:
I’m not a real long timer here (14 years old), just a nature and art lover, and I find Idyllwild a special place with a wonderful community. We are blessed with clean air, smooth traffic, diverse wildlife, great people, plenty of restaurants, and all that the arts community and businesses provide.
I do however have great concerns if Idyllwild continues to have a growing tourism industry. “Big storm hitting the hill,” TC Dec. 16, reports 12.1 inches of rain in 2021, 15.8 inches in 2020, a trend well below the 20-year average of 21.6 inches. Climate change promises much more severe and prolonged droughts than we have experienced so far.
So, does it make sense to promote more tourism growth, more Airbnb/STR and new construction projects when our water supply is “questionable”? What use will our magnificent arts be if we have no water?
In truth, we could easily lose our forests (which is already happening), impacting the entire ecosystem and community. It was said that having more STRs would help alleviate our shortage of long-term rentals. Really?
It’s similar to what Los Angeles said about building more freeways to ease traffic. More STRs will only allow more tourists, which will have even more impact on our resources.
I appreciate David Hunt’s letter to the editor, and the fair thoughts and facts on this issue, and for mentioning the strain on our aging sewage treatment plant, and the increase in sewage and potential contaminants from underground water supplies.
According to the Desert Sun (October 24, 2021), Idyllwild has nearly half of all short-term rentals recorded in all of Riverside County. I have nothing against STRs if the county puts a cap on the number allowed that is sustainable. Continued growth puts a strain on our resources and we will all experience impacts on our quality of life.
Does it make sense to build additional swimming pools or hotels? What a surprise, an additional motel or apartments are planned for Idyllwild, according to the February 3 TC.
When is enough, enough? When do we make decisions based on long-term sustainability and not just quick profit? Personally, I don’t want our charming town to turn into a “Big Bear” community. We have to be wise and keep “Idy Wild”.
Frank Baele

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