Basin scenic issues discussed at chamber luncheon |

Basin scenic issues discussed at chamber luncheon

INCLINE VILLAGE — Proposed lake front scenic regulations in the Tahoe Basin got a mixed reception at last week’s Incline Village Crystal Bay Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

More than 60 members of the local business community came to the luncheon to hear a talk by Juan Palma, executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, and Dean Heller, chair of TRPA’s Governing Board, about the controversial proposal.

Some of those present recognized the need for regulation, but felt they had little influence over the result.

“Tahoe is a beautiful place and we need regulations to keep it that way,” said Incline Village resident Bill Farrell. “But you need to listen to us.”

The regulations have been the subject of heated comments in public workshops, where a middle ground on the subject is being sought. The regulations would try to keep houses from dominating the natural landscape by muting house colors, sizes and textures.

Since July, when the basis for the proposals was passed by the Governing Board, Palma and Heller have been besieged by homeowners and real estate professionals who fear the regulations could lower home values. But TRPA says the regulation is needed to reverse nearly two decades of declining scenic standards.

Palma acknowledged the polarized views, but said controversy was often the price paid for protecting Lake Tahoe and its basin from decline in nine areas of concern.

“We are the messengers of the decline,” Palma said. “But it is our duty.”

Heller, echoing Palma, said controversy accounted for the long delay in dealing with the scenic issues.

“If you make a decision today and have results tomorrow, that’s easy,” Heller said. “But if it takes 20 years, as this might, it’s a very hard decision to make.”

Heller recited a “Top 10 list of myths and misunderstandings” surrounding the scenic quality issues in an attempt to lighten the mood, but was not completely successful.

Incline resident Chuck Masters responded that Lake Tahoe belongs to Nevada, California and the rest of the country.

“Your … answer betrays your lack of respect of the homeowners in the basin,” Masters said. “I think you’re taking a bureaucratic approach that will never end.”

Although Palma said the scenic regulations were forced by the basin’s current master plan, he left the door open to future changes in it.

“The 20-year Regional Plan dictates these regulations,” Palma said. “But in four or five years we will work on a new one. Maybe then new paradigms can be put in place.”

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