A boat ride into the future
The TRPA charts course for change
By Gregory Crofton
Tribune staff writer
Everyone has their own horror story about dealing with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and that has to change.
The agency needs to spend less time irritating the public with building permit delays and more time on big picture environmental issues, said TRPA Executive Director John Singlaub during a boat trip back from the North Shore on Thursday.
He delivered the message to members of the TRPA Governing Board who toured the lake as part of a retreat to discuss changes to be made at the bistate land management agency before the end of the year.
First, Singlaub said, the organization must reduce the time it takes for building projects to be approved, especially less complicated projects. Permit-tracking software and the conversion of thousands of paper documents into electronic ones should allow projects to be reviewed more quickly.
“Before we talk about the big issues we have to get our arms around the project review thing,” Singlaub said. “We can’t engage until we fix that part of the organization.”
The statement provoked a “hear, hear” from one Governing Board member.
Big issues involve things like air quality, transportation and protecting Tahoe’s fragile shoreline. Staff at the agency has worked on regulations to protect Tahoe’s shore off and on for the last 14 years.
A draft report on regulations proposed for the shorezone is slated to be released by the agency in June. The boat trip on the lake Thursday was an opportunity for TRPA staff to point out and explain to members of the Governing Board complex issues that crop up along the shore. The issues are created by things like piers, buoys, boatlifts and homes.
“The shorezone (environmental impact statement) is probably the most controversial thing the board is going to have to deal with this year,” Singlaub told the group. “I want to certify that this year. I hope we all have that goal together.”
Members of the Governing Board who made the boat trip included the secretary of state of Nevada, commissioners and supervisors from El Dorado, Washoe and Douglas counties and Carson City, and private citizens appointed by governors from California and Nevada.
“It’s neat to see it from this perspective,” said Reed Holderman, vice president and regional director of Trust for Public Land, who represents California on the Governing Board and was making his first voyage on Lake Tahoe.