Building application numbers keep going up |

Building application numbers keep going up

As the number of applications continue to rise, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is looking for ways to cover the more than $1 million a year it costs to process them.

Application fees in the past have covered about 55 percent of the processing cost. To cover the expense, staff at the agency has proposed adjustments to all types of permit applications except for residential.

The fee for residential applications was changed in July. It turned a flat fee into one based on the square footage of a home.

For example, the application fee to build in the shorezone, if the project is reviewed by the TRPA Governing Board, would increase from $1,380 to $2,110. A fee for a new buoy that requires Governing Board review would decrease from $1,421 to $1,358.

The application fee to build a new commercial building that requires a staff review would increase from $1,056 to $1,086. The fee to construct a new public service building with a staff review would increase from $958 to $1,086. A staff review for a project that would add to or modify a recreation building would decrease from $917 to $815.

The proposed adjustments, in general, are based on how much time it takes to process them, said Lyn Barnett, division chief of Project Review at the TRPA.

The new fees are expected to be subject of public hearing before any vote by the Governing Board when it meets today at Kings Beach.

But why does the agency continue to be flooded with applications? Barnett said he thinks the answers lie in escalating real estate prices.

“Lake Tahoe is a really good real estate investment right now,” Barnett said. “People who buy these homes tend to want to remodel, so there’s a lot of that’s going on.”

Older neighborhoods along the shore of Lake Tahoe are a target for many investors. Some of the properties don’t come with “coverage,” a term used by planners to describe how much of a parcel can be covered by a driveway or building. The agency receives a number of applications to transfer coverage.

Barnett said his staff is also getting a large number of applications that involve projects related to the Environmental Improvement Program.

The agency in December adopted a new system that ties building rights to environmental work. The more EIP projects that get on the ground can make a county or the city eligible for increased building rights.

Barnett said EIP applications can involve a lot of processing work because they tend to be complicated projects.

Residential applications can be involved, too.

“There are 180 different plan areas in the basin, plus community plans,” he said. “Each has its own special policies and considerations.”

For example, construction of a new home at Incline Village, which is situated on very steep terrain, requires an avalanche report and public hearing.

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at

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