Governing Board gets closer to finalizing shorezone ordinances
June 26, 2008
Delays in approval of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s shorezone ordinances has frustrated even the agency’s Governing Board, with one board member saying Thursday that she’s “had it up to here.”
The comment came after members of the public asked for an extension to the June 30 deadline for public comment on the shorezone ordinance update.
Some of those who have been watching the issue closely want another week to make sure the code language of the shorezone ordinances matches the intent of decisions made during board meetings and a May shorezone workshop. Jan Brisco, executive director of the Tahoe Lakefront Owners’ Association, is one of those people.
Changes to the code language in response to recent public comments – as well as several changes expected before the code language is finalized – also are significant enough to warrant another public comment period of at least 30 days, said Jennifer Quashnick, a representative from the Tahoe Area Sierra Club and Sierra Forest Legacy.
“How can we, the public, comment on the final ordinances when we don’t even have them?” Quashnick asked during the Governing Board’s monthly meeting Thursday in Stateline. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
The latest in a series of proposed versions of the ordinances is different enough from options analyzed in the ordinances’ environmental document to require a separate environmental analysis, Quashnick added.
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TRPA’s shorezone ordinances regulate development near Lake Tahoe’s shoreline, including the construction of piers and placement of buoys.
An update to the ordinances has been debated for more than 20 years.
After the requests for more time and a presentation by the League to Save Lake Tahoe on boat pollution, Governing Board member Norma Santiago lamented the lack of new information being injected into the debate.
“I have had it up to here with shorezone,” said Santiago, who also is an EL Dorado County supervisor, placing her right hand several inches above her head.
Board member Shelley Aldean agreed, saying “paralysis through analysis” is not acceptable.
“I think it’s time to move forward,” Aldean said.
Ultimately, the board refused to grant an extension to the public comment period, although Board Chair Mara Bresnick said the June 30 comment deadline is a “soft” deadline.
Comments on the new code language will be accepted after the end of the month, Bresnick said, while encouraging people to submit comments as soon as possible so the TRPA can stay on track for possible August approval of the updated ordinances.
“There has to be some kind of finality,” Bresnick said.
The board did approve a change to a schedule detailing steps for a possible passage of updated shorezone ordinances.
Language suggested by TRPA staff in the meeting’s agenda packet would have prevented lakefront owners from performing maintenance on shorezone structures requiring a permit until new shorezone regulations were approved.
Under the current shorezone regulations, maintenance projects costing $8,500 or more require a project permit.
Board members approved the change after Brisco gave an example of a pier owner who would like to replace the deck of his pier. The project will cost more than $8,500, but will have negligible effect on lake health, Brisco said.
Not allowing the upkeep would prevent homeowners from fulfilling an obligation to maintain their property, Brisco said.