Marchetta: Pieces are falling into place for a sustainable Lake Tahoe |

Marchetta: Pieces are falling into place for a sustainable Lake Tahoe

We were invited to give the opening presentation at a national conference of weather journalists this month on the South Shore called Operation Sierra Storm. The main theme was Tahoe as a world leader in environmental sustainability and as we move into this new era of climate change, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has a lot to share with the world about what is happening here to adapt to the threats that come with it. In the face of climate change, we all can contribute and make a difference. Sustainability for Lake Tahoe communities includes bringing mobility options, natural resource protection, health and social well-being, and a healthy economy together in ways that increase the long-term resilience of the natural and built environments. A number of sustainability actions are taking place at all levels around Lake Tahoe — from local green building codes to major transportation improvements — and 2014 is shaping up to be a critical year to press forward on climate change priorities and continue the positive progress happening in our communities. First, the TRPA has partnered with other agencies and organizations to form the Lake Tahoe Sustainable Communities Program to bring a cohesive approach to everyone's efforts. The program is implementing greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies across the Basin and will establish sustainability indicators as part of Lake Tahoe's climate action plan. The collaborative group is expected to release the Lake Tahoe Sustainability Action Plan in February with the Tahoe Basin's first complete greenhouse gas emissions inventory. It's also important to know that while this new partnership is taking shape in the basin, Lake Tahoe's sturdy regional framework has already put many sustainability measures in place. TRPA years ago established an urban boundary to stop sprawl, capped the roadway capacity of the basin to reduce reliance on the private automobile, integrated land use and transportation plans, and set environmental standards on new development to stop additional impacts. TRPA adopted the new Lake Tahoe Regional Plan in 2012 moving the basin into the 21st century with incentives for property owners to upgrade buildings with modern environmental design and to redesign town centers more around walking and biking. When we look at what has been done here to reduce our footprint on Lake Tahoe, there is a lot that is exportable to other communities and it is no wonder that conferences like Operation Sierra Storm are drawing people to come learn from us. While implementation of the Lake Tahoe Regional Transportation Plan is projected to reduce per capita emissions in the region by 7 percent by 2035, those reductions account for only mobile sources of greenhouse gases like cars and light trucks. The emissions inventory is showing that stationary sources like homes and buildings are an area where big improvements could also be realized. The Sustainable Communities Program is working to establish minimum energy efficiency standards for new buildings in the Lake Tahoe Basin through local area plans and building codes. The partnership is bringing together existing actions with new and innovative ideas. Along with the Sustainable Communities Program, TRPA in its role as the Tahoe Metropolitan Planning Organization is making it possible to implement mobility options in our transportation plans. We are opening a grant program this month to bring forward community-based ideas for mobility and streetscape improvement projects. Called the On Our Way Community Grant Program, we are looking for community-based organizations to identify local improvements that will enhance streets and neighborhoods. The first grant application round will run from Jan. 15 to March 14. The program aims to help meet regional goals of encouraging biking, walking and transit use and supporting economic vitality by studying neighborhood-level improvements such as safe routes to schools and downtown street-design projects. And lastly, there are more people all around us who are changing their daily habits to make a healthier Lake Tahoe and more sustainable planet. Whether you are shopping locally, insulating your home, or leaving your car at home one day a week, you are part of what will make Tahoe a better place to live. If you are one of the many who are stepping up with new ideas or are prepared to lead your community forward, I encourage you to find out more about the sustainability efforts taking shape in the region and get involved. Lake Tahoe is on a world stage and we have an opportunity not only to adapt our communities to climate change, but to set an example for communities around the nation and the globe. — Joanne S. Marchetta is Executive Director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Ken Gerrard on pace to finish Boston Marathon

Ken Gerrard of South Lake Is on pace to finish his first Boston Marathon today. The 52-year-old Gerrard has completed 30 kilometers of the race in 2 hours, 40 minutes and 27 seconds. Given his pace, he’s projected to finish the 113th running of the event in 3:46:11.

Ken Garrard completes Boston Marathon in under 4 hours

South Lake Tahoe resident Ken Gerrard finished the 113th running of the Boston Marathon on Monday. Gerrard, 52, completed the 26.2-mile race – the oldest of marathons – in 3 hours, 51 minutes and 30 seconds to finish 10,332nd out of a field of 25,000 runners. Ethiopia’s Deriba Merga won the race in 2:08::42. Ryan Hall, a U.S. Olympian who trained for the race near Bishop, Calif., came in third in 2:09:40. Pick up the midweek edition of the Tribune to read about Gerrard’s Bostn Marathon experience.

Lake Tahoe Plan wins national award

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's (TRPA) Lake Tahoe Sustainability Action Plan is being recognized this month with a National Planning Achievement Award for Environmental Planning from the American Planning Association. The Sustainability Action Plan is one of 12 plans nationwide that will be recognized with planning excellence awards during the American Planning Association's National Planning Conference on April 20. "This award shows Lake Tahoe is leading the way in planning to improve sustainability and adapt to climate change. The Sustainability Action Plan is the blueprint to do that collaboratively here at Lake Tahoe and also offers a model for other communities and regions," said Joanne S. Marchetta, Executive Director of TRPA. TRPA created the Sustainability Action Plan collaboratively with many partners, including El Dorado and Placer counties, City of South Lake Tahoe, California Tahoe Conservancy, and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association and Sierra Nevada Alliance. A grant from the California Strategic Growth Council paid for creation of the plan, which includes implementation steps for residents, businesses, visitors, schools, and governments to rebalance the Lake Tahoe Region's environment, economy, and community health while also confronting the impacts of climate change. "Creating a resilient and sustainable Lake Tahoe Region will only be successful if we partner with local jurisdictions, public land owners, private interests, and the community at large. The Sustainability Action Plan sets the foundation and framework for the region to start planning for an uncertain future in a collaborative fashion," said Karin Edwards, Sustainable Communities Program Manager at TRPA. Honey Walters, Principal at Ascent Environmental, which helped create the Lake Tahoe Sustainability Action Plan, said the plan is unique in providing a tool kit to meet greenhouse gas reduction goals as well as recommendations for adapting to the Earth's changing climate, "thus serving as a template for future planning across the globe." The Lake Tahoe Sustainability Collaborative was a vital partner in creating the Sustainability Action Plan and represents a broad array of individuals and organizations working to improve the long-term resiliency of the Lake Tahoe Region. "We appreciated the opportunity for a 'bottom up' participation in crafting the Lake Tahoe Sustainability Action Plan, which addresses vital ecosystem preservation strategies while also offering a comprehensive approach to community and economic vitality. We are equally enthusiastic about seeing the plan implemented with broad participation and community engagement," said Michael Ward, of the Lake Tahoe Sustainability Collaborative. More information about the Lake Tahoe Sustainability Action Plan and steps community members can take to improve the Lake Tahoe Region's sustainability is available online at The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency leads the cooperative effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region, while improving local communities, and people's interactions with our irreplaceable environment. For additional information, contact Tom Lotshaw, Public Information Officer, at 775-589-5278.

Tahoe regional planners approve logging project to remove dead and dying trees

Lake Tahoe regulators have approved the logging of 270 acres north of Bliss State Park on the lake’s west shore to remove dead and dying trees and thin thick stands of fir. It’s the first logging operation approved since last year, when 113 acres owned by the Tahoe City Public Utility District were logged. TRPA fined Menasha Corp., the logging contractor on that job, $160,000 after agency officials said at least 49 old growth trees were felled in violation of regulations designed to protect trees greater than 30 inches in diameter. Company officials maintain they did nothing wrong. The matter is being argued in U.S. District Court in Sacramento. In approving the latest project Wednesday, TRPA officials said they’ve taken steps to guard against similar problems, including the hiring of a full-time forester who will mark trees to be felled and monitor the over-the-snow logging operation this winter. Jesse Jones, the forester, said he has already surveyed the property owned by Tamarack Mutual Water Co. ”There’s a lot of mortality out there and that’s a lot of wood that’s basically firewood,” Jones said. ”I see the project as moving the forest toward a more natural condition.”

TRPA column: Part of Lake Tahoe’s protection is a sustainable ‘allocation’ system

With spring and a new building season having arrived, many are imagining their Tahoe dream home again, so questions about the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's method of annual development allocation deserve some attention. As you will see, with Lake Tahoe nearing what is called "full buildout," this year's residential allocation distribution is the beginning of a new way forward for the finite amount of vacant land remaining at Lake Tahoe. More than 40 years ago, TRPA was called on to put the brakes on the rampant over-development and residential subdivisions that were threatening Lake Tahoe's pristine environment. One way TRPA achieved that was to slow the rate and pace of new home building at Lake Tahoe so that environmental improvement and restoration projects could keep pace with growth. With limits on new subdivisions came a cap on the number of developable parcels region-wide and an allocation system was started. An allocation is basically the right to build or create a new "unit of use" which could be a home or an apartment. TRPA created different types of allocations, such as for tourist accommodations and commercial space, as well. Today, the remaining vacant land at Lake Tahoe is nearing the point when there will be no more vacant parcels to build on — what we call full buildout. Out of the total 43,000 private parcels that exist today, only around 4,000 are still vacant. This means that, depending on the rate of allocation, Lake Tahoe could see an end of new development on vacant land within the next two decades. Having a limited number of new residential building allocations means there is less pressure on the lake and there is more time for environmental restoration projects to respond to the impacts of development. It also means new home construction can continue for a longer period of time before all the vacant parcels disappear. Ultimately, this all leads to a healthier environment and a clearer lake because what happens on the land at Lake Tahoe affects the water. The building allocation system opens more opportunities to remodeling and redevelopment. Improvements to existing structures are needed to add environmental upgrades to more than 25,000 properties throughout the region. That is the number of properties that have not completed stormwater Best Management Practices, which are required to stop fine sediment and other pollutants from entering the lake. Permits to remodel or rebuild are only issued if BMPs and other environmental upgrades are included in the project. So, a more robust redevelopment market means improved water quality as well as extended job security for many in the construction trades. With these facts in mind, the updated Lake Tahoe Regional Plan last year reduced the rate of annual residential allocation by 55 percent — to a maximum of 130 per year versus the historic maximum of 300. With private land at Lake Tahoe at 90 percent buildout today, the 2012 Regional Plan changed the maximum allocation rate to reflect changing dynamics on land and the continued need for environmental improvements throughout the region. For the 4,000 remaining vacant lots, the Regional Plan authorized 2,600 new residential allocations to be distributed over the next 20 years and 600 residential bonus units to be available only for environmental redevelopment projects in town centers. The 2,600 allocations will be distributed to local governments at the maximum rate of 130 per year, but some years it may be less. A faster rate of allocation would not bring the desired environmental benefits and would force the region to reach buildout more quickly—bringing an earlier end of this as a ways to seed the economy and construction trades. This method of residential allocation answers the spirit of the Tahoe Bi-State Compact that calls for TRPA to create an orderly system for growth while protecting and improving the environment. Certain environmental improvements happen in-step with a limited amount of new growth, and a healthy market exists for environmental improvements to existing buildings. This method is also considered a cutting-edge sustainability measure and it along with other TRPA programs are studied by land-use professionals around the nation and the world for resource protection. Keeping Tahoe at the forefront of global resource protection is a status that befits the Jewel of the Sierra. — Joanne S. Marchetta is the executive director of TRPA.

Tahoe Sustainability Summit focuses on building resilient communities

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Lake Tahoe Sustainable Communities Program are hosting the Tahoe Region's first-ever sustainability summit June 22-23 at The Hyatt in Incline Village. Called Connections 2015, the summit is all about building more resilient and sustainable communities by strengthening mountain-urban partnerships, bringing together people and organizations from all over California, Nevada, and the American West. Expert panels, workshops, and networking opportunities will focus on the many connections between metropolitan and rural areas, including drinking water, forest health, transportation, and recreation, and how metropolitan and rural areas can partner to improve sustainability and resiliency. On June 22, expert panel speakers and participants will discuss best practices, challenges, and opportunities for improved mountain-urban partnerships. Panel discussions will include: Forest Health and Water Security: Learn about science showing the benefits forest restoration has for water supplies and hear from communities that are protecting their water sources through forest management practices. Transportation, Recreation, and Access: What if people could easily travel between urban and mountain areas and get around their own communities without cars? Hear from communities that have successful regional and local transportation systems and learn about the latest studies demonstrating an overwhelming need for such systems. Valuing the Mountain-Urban Connection: How can mountain-urban partnerships find solutions to our most challenging problems? Mountain areas are not only playgrounds for urban areas, they are also rich with resources, from water to timber to renewable energy. As climate change threatens these resources, regional leaders are partnering together to work through these issues. Speak with representatives from the Sierra Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Partnership, the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative, and Sacramento's Capital Regional Climate Readiness Collaborative to learn how they and other groups are exploring regional opportunities to partner and address climate change impacts. There are serious challenges to building resilient communities, but that means there are also exciting opportunities for people to find collaborative solutions. On June 23, summit participants will take part in planning workshops that are designed for them to share their perspectives and discuss how they can work together. A full agenda, schedule, and a link to register for Connections 2015 are online at Registration costs $45 and scholarships are available. For additional information, contact Tom Lotshaw, Public Information Officer, at 775-589-5278.

South Lake Tahoe City Council launches sustainability plan

The South Lake Tahoe City Council on Friday approved the first steps in the development of a sustainability plan for the city. The council’s unanimous vote was met with applause from the dozens of people present in Council Chambers for the special meeting. Using the international Brundtland Commission’s definition of sustainability, the goal of the plan is to implement policies which provide for the needs of current residents without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. There were several reminders Friday that such a goal is only accomplished through actions, rather than words alone. “If we’re going to talk the talk, the city has got to walk the walk,” Assistant City Manager Rick Angelocci told the council. The initial steps approved by the council were developed with input from a group of South Shore agency officials known as the Interim Sustainability Working Group and include: ” Reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint by reducing energy use in city facilities by 15 percent by 2012. ” Committing to establish a new green-building program and standard for city projects including requirements to meet or exceed the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating or use the Build It Green Scoring System. ” Moving toward clean transit, including compressed natural-gas buses and alternative fuels in the bus fleet. The city also will create an incentive program to encourage city employees to use alternative modes of transportation to get to work, including public transit, carpool or bicycle. ” Developing a recycling action plan to achieve a 55 percent diversion rate by 2011. The city also will require recycling containers in all city buildings. ” Investigating and discussing with the business community by June and return to the City Council with a program designed to reduce the use of plastic bags and Styrofoam in the city. On Sept. 10, the city will host a sustainability public workshop “to review the draft sustainability vision and explore opportunities for partnering , collaboration and innovation,” according to a city staff report. “Today is not the end of the trail, it is the beginning of the trail,” Angelocci said Friday.

Summit to discuss option of a 2011 sustainability conference at Lake Tahoe

LAKE TAHOE – More than 80 environmental leaders and advocates from a variety of local organizations and agencies will take a first step toward realizing a sustainable future for the Lake Tahoe Basin with a day-long summit next week at Sand Harbor. The summit – to take place Thursday, Sept. 16 – will focus on planning a World Sustainability Expo at the lake in 2011, according to a press release from Sustainable Tahoe. Guest speakers include: University of California, Davis, Professor Charles Goldman; Sierra Nevada College President Richard Rubsamen; David Hansen, of Embassy Suites hotel in South Lake Tahoe; Mark Twain impersonator McAvoy Layne; and Steven James, a Washoe Elder who will present a Washoe prayer. The group, dubbed the Tahoe Sustainability Congress, will arrive by water ferry, kayak, bus, bike and electric cars, rather than gas-powered vehicles, according to the release, in an effort to “help realize the recently completed Tahoe Prosperity Plan, which seeks to position Lake Tahoe as a leader in Geotourism, Green Technology and Health.” According to previous reports, the Lake Tahoe Basin Prosperity Plan still is in the works, with a final presentation expected in October before the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Congress participants next week will brainstorm on how activities that motivate acts of conservation can become the cornerstone of Tahoe’s new economy and prosperity, according to the Sustainable Tahoe press release. Over the next 11 months, workshops like these will seek to evolve a geotourism menu in concert with green innovation from around the globe ready to showcase at a basin-wide 2011 Lake Tahoe Sustainability Expo, according to the press release. “Lake Tahoe has emerged on the global stage as a model for watershed and lake stewardship. What has already been accomplished through improved conservation efforts at Lake Tahoe and Lake Baikal in Russia continues to gain momentum as an example of effective resource conservation,” said Goldman, who recently retired after 52 years of teaching and research at UC Berkeley. “This approach is a much better model for sustainable prosperity than the activities promoted during the last half of the century. This Congress should provide a further opportunity of how to improve the local economy while at the same time protecting this unique and incredibly invaluable resource.”