B’s Business Viewpoint: Why the business community supported the Regional Plan Update process
Ryan Summerlin December 21, 2012
Simply put, the board of the Tahoe Chamber supported the Regional Plan Update because the plan is comprised of reasonable compromises that will finally bring together what we’ve long known are interconnected: the lake, the economy and our communities. The business community is proud to have worked with environmental groups, local residents and other stakeholders to find common ground on issues that affect our very survival.
The reason we supported the Regional Plan Update was not, as some have suggested, because we have our heads in the sand, or that we were looking for massive new growth and development. Conversely, we engaged and encouraged others to do the same as we recognized that the update of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Regional Plan was an opportunity to have a say in our future. A future we want to see lead to improvements in the environment, economy and quality of life for locals and quality of experience for visitors.
Why does this matter? Because the RPU document sets the course for our collective futures and guides the components of all other plans. In each community there is something called a Community Plan, also known as an Area Plan. These plans guide redevelopment and building within their respective borders. This includes your ability to add a deck to your home, expand your business and what types of lighting will illuminate your neighborhood sidewalk. Each of these plans must conform to the parameters set out in the Regional Plan. The last Regional Plan was adopted in 1987 and was scheduled to be updated by 2007. Due to a variety of factors, this task was delayed with the document finally being approved at last week’s TRPA Governing Board and Advisory Planning Commission meeting.
The process was a daunting one that involved more than 5,000 residents contributing ideas through a variety of workshops, meetings and written submissions. The importance of this process was well recognized at the state level as evidenced by the fact that the Governors of California and Nevada directed the heads of their Natural Resources Departments to lead a bi-state consultation group. This group was comprised of representatives from the League to Save Lake Tahoe, Nevada Conservation League, Secretary John Laird, Director Leo Drozdoff, two business leaders, TRPA staff, TRPA Governing Board members as well as city and county representatives. This effort followed months of meetings by the Governing Board’s Regional Plan Update Committee, which met nearly 20 times for full-day sessions to review all the details of the plan and community input. All of these meetings were open to the public. The collective expertise, knowledge and diverse viewpoints led to the RPU document presented for approval. The members of the committee have publicly stated that there were numerous compromises and concessions, and no one left the process feeling that they had “won” but rather that they had collaborated for the greater good of the Tahoe Basin environment.
Now, post approval, there are two prevailing viewpoints on where we go from here. The first choice, which is supported by the TahoeChamber board and most rational citizens, is to respect the work done by this dedicated group and the staff at TRPA. Based upon the adopted Adaptive Management Process the community will have an opportunity to correct our course, utilizing current science in four years’ time if necessary. The second choice exhibited by those who neglected to participate in the process, or the extremists who refuse to accept the compromises, will consist of criticizing from the sidelines, or perhaps worse, trying to drive their ill-informed or singularly focused viewpoints on all of us through the media and legal systems.
Tahoe needs action and the status quo is only moving our environment and economy backward. For more of the reasons as to why the Tahoe Chamber board of directors voted unanimously to support the Regional Plan Update, please visit TahoeChamber.org and watch for the January edition of the Tahoe Chamber Business Review.
– Betty “B” Gorman, J.D., B.S., A.C.E., is the president and CEO of TahoeChamber.