Backlog on BMPs: Thousand-person waiting list may mean no more appointments this summer
The South Lake Tahoe office that performs free BMP site evaluations may not take any more appointments this year because of a 1,000-person waiting list.
“We likely will not schedule any more BMP evaluations this summer due to our limited staff and funding resources, but we will provide other assistance where possible,” said Erik Larson, backyard conservation program manager at the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, which serves California properties.
BMPs, or best management practices, are erosion control techniques required of all property owners by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Most properties at the South Shore must complete them by this year. An estimated 36,000 properties in the Lake Tahoe Basin are not in compliance.
The situation is not lost on homeowners.
Rod Gaede of Lodi started calling the TRPA and conservation district six months ago about his property near the Lake Tahoe airport. After several calls, he talked to someone at the district who told him there were 1,200 people ahead of him.
“They appear to be disorganized,” he said. “If they put out what are the likely things that need to be done, at least people can get started on those.”
The good news is there is such a list.
A checklist for a self-evaluation is available on the conservation district’s Web site at Tahoercd.org. The TRCD is a neutral, non-regulatory, grant-funded state agency with the sole mission of helping property owners become better land stewards. They have partnered with TRPA to get the BMP program going.
TRPA encourages moving toward BMP completion in small ways. Driveways are the No. 1 BMP, according to TRCD’s Web site. Bare soil is also a large concern, and TRCD encourages planting native vegetation, covering bare soil with organic material, and installing rock-filled basins under the roof driplines.
Larson said they are limited to performing 150 to 175 evaluations per month, but will have a full-time staff person by June 19 to answer the phone and help walk-ins.
“We will offer over-the-phone technical guidance to homeowners who do not necessarily need a site evaluation,” Larson said.
Nevada properties may still request an evaluation and expect to get an appointment this summer, said Kelley Kelso, backyard conservation manager at Nevada Tahoe Conservation District. Their waiting list has 100 people on it, and they are capable of doing about 100 a month.
The TRPA is working on certifying contractors to do paid site evaluations for those who don’t want to wait for a free one, said agency spokeswoman Julie Regan.
But some wonder if contractors performing site evaluations could create a conflict of interest.
Homeowner Jeff Kerner said he got a contractor’s quote of $3,000 to install a swale in his driveway. He did the work himself in two hours with a $100 rental of an asphalt saw and $25 worth of asphalt.
“We want to make sure people are getting fair estimates,” she said. “It’s always going to be an option for people to do the work themselves. That’s the way to keep the costs down.”
The BMP rule has been on the book for almost 10 years. Regan said those whose homes were built in the last 10 years likely have BMPs already, and just need a certificate of completion.
As for the 2006 BMP deadline, it appears to be a moot point.
“If people can’t get an appointment for a site evaluation because of the timing, we won’t expect them to meet the deadline this year,” Regan said.
Where to go:
For instructions on how to do a BMP self-evaluation, go to http://tahoercd.org/ or visit the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, 870 Emerald Bay Road
For properties in Nevada, appointments are still available from the Nevada Tahoe Conservation District at (775) 586-1610 ext. 28
If you already have BMPs (most homes less than 10 years old do) and just need a certificate, call TRPA at (775) 588-4547 ext. 202