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February 26, 2013
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CA Legislature introduces bill to 'restore' Lake Tahoe

LAKE TAHOE - Two California state senators have introduced a bill designed to restore Lake Tahoe in the event Nevada drops out of the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact.

SB 630, the Tahoe Compact Restoration Act of 2013, would go into effect only if Nevada moves forward with its plan to leave the existing compact, according to a Monday post by California Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, on her web page. In 2011, Nevada passed a law stating its intention to drop out of the compact, which has been in place since 1969.

According to previous reports, if Nevada's law does go into effect, it would effectively destroy the current governing authority, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. If this happens, SB 630 would revive the California Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, which served the state for many years before the start of the two-state compact. This would allow California to regulate development and protect water quality in the region, according to the bill introduced by Pavley and Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.

"California must have a plan in place to protect Lake Tahoe," Pavley said on her web page. "Due to unilateral action taken by the state of Nevada, the governance structure that has served Lake Tahoe for over four decades is now in jeopardy. We have sought to partner with the state of Nevada on this issue, and still see that as the best way forward. However, if our neighbor goes forward with their plan to withdraw from the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact, we should revive the California Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in order to protect our state's vital interests in this natural jewel of the Sierras."

The bill adopted by Nevada, SB 271, requires the state to drop out of the Regional Compact by Oct. 1, 2015, if the two states cannot agree on a regional plan. The Nevada Legislature could repeal SB 271 during 2013. If it doesn't, however, it would likely go into effect, because the Nevada Legislature meets only during odd-numbered years, and will not convene during 2014. Therefore, according to Pavley's post, it is important for California to put a contingency plan into effect this year.

"We hope the two states can continue to work collaboratively," said Darcie Goodman-Collins, executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, in a statement on Pavley's web page. "However, as the dissolution of the Compact appears to no longer be an idle threat, California must perform its due diligence in order to safeguard one of the State's most valuable resources. If Nevada pulls out of the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact, it is imperative that California already have a California Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in place."

The two states agreed to an updated regional plan for Lake Tahoe in December when TRPA adopted the Lake Tahoe Regional Plan Update and Regional Transportation Plan Update, called Mobility 2035, by a 12-1 vote, with one abstention. These plans accelerated ecological and water restoration efforts in the area, while aiding regional development by simplifying the permitting process for updating older buildings. The plan was endorsed by the U.S. Forest Service, which manages nearly 80 percent of the land in the Tahoe Basin.

On Feb. 11, the Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Sacramento seeking to block to new regional plan. The lawsuit went forward despite a request from U.S. sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., who noted that it could make it more difficult for the two states to reach a resolution.

Pavley represents California Senate District 27 (which straddles Los Angeles and Ventura counties), while Steinberg represents District 6 (covering all of Sacramento and some surrounding areas). Neither district touches the Lake Tahoe Basin.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Feb 26, 2013 11:20AM Published Feb 26, 2013 11:18AM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.