I recently heard a progress report at the South Lake City Council meeting on the Regional Plan Update. As an advocate for strong and responsible local government planning in cities in California, I have a perspective to share on the current process.
Past and present city councils approved the investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars to create with much local community input a City General Plan that is consistent with all standards and guidelines required under California State law. As the only incorporated California city completely within the boundaries of the TRPA, city government officials have done what the TRPA Compact said it should do, namely, to undertake vigorous local planning to develop a city vision of the community's future that is consistent with regional goals and objectives. TRPA on the other hand is supposed to leave to the greatest extent possible local planning to duly-elected local government officials. The RPU Update is a good start but more local control is needed.
Under the proposed RPU, even with the city's adopted General Plan and a Tahoe Valley Community Plan consistent with state law and regional objectives, TRPA will still require more "planning and study" to develop "community plans" within the city limits. This notion of never-ending planning is wasteful, duplicative, redundant, hierarchical, expensive and unnecessary. The city of South Lake Tahoe's elected leaders should be able to implement the Tahoe Valley Community Plan and other specific plans as long as they can make findings that they are consistent with the city's General Plan and RPU. Should an agency or individual believe a city-approved development is inconsistent with the RPU then they should pursue remedies already available in the law. Never ending micro-management of responsible and vigorous City government planning is not needed and perpetuates a "plan-it-to-death culture."
Strong economic growth of the primary tourist economy and creation of a secondary economy is needed in South Lake Tahoe and city government has the planning framework in place to make it so. Strong economic growth will foster residential and commercial rehabilitation, private-sector investment, improvements to needed public works infrastructure that benefits the existing community, create new jobs, and lead to the type of prosperity for all our local economy needs to support environmental programs. The RPU should value and welcome city government officials implementing the city General Plan and its specific plans without further studies, reports, speculations and bureaucratic oversight.
City government's elected leaders now and those who will come in the future must have more land-use discretion consistent with the city's adopted General Plan to the greatest extent possible as contemplated in the TRPA Compact and consistent with the principles of democratic local government. Locally elected leaders can then be held accountable by voters for what they do or do not do to make South Lake Tahoe a prosperous community for all. I know that local leaders and community members will rise to the occasion when given the full opportunity to govern. The RPU needs to let Local government govern!
- David Jinkens, M.P.A., is a retired South Lake Tahoe city manager and community advocate