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Building at Tahoe to be reduced

For the first time in 16 years, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency approved regulations that could reduce the amount of building allowed each year at the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The TRPA Governing Board voted 11-0 on Wednesday to tie building that South Lake Tahoe and counties at the lake are able to accomplish to environmental work.

Typically the agency releases 300 allocations of development each year and splits the allocations between the counties and the city. On average, 225 of those allocations are used.



The new system will provide a base number of 150 allocations to be released in 2003. But it also includes an annual performance review by TRPA staff that will determine if a county or the city gets more or less than 150 allocations based on their environmental performance.

They will be graded on how well they comply with agency regulations, how many environmental improvement program projects are getting done, whether or not erosion controls are being installed around homes and commercial property and if improvements are being made for transportation.




The new rules passed with the condition that the Governing Board revisit the issue in March. TRPA staff said it is willing to work with the counties and the city between now and then to come up with other possible criteria that could affect the number of allocations they receive.

Washoe, Placer and Douglas counties in 2003 are expected to maintain the number of allocations they received in the past. The number South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County are assigned could increase because the system recognizes they have the most land that could be built on.

The real question, everyone agreed, is what might happen in 2005 and 2006 when environmental deadlines and projects get more difficult to meet.

Hal Cole, a member of the Governing Board and a South Lake Tahoe city councilman, expressed discontent with the entire allocation system. He said the system has treated the city unfairly by creating a 10-year waiting list for people who want to build on their land.

Cole said he thinks South Lake Tahoe deserves to get more allocations. He said the progress the city has made in providing multifamily housing should be factored into the performance review, as well as the progress the city has made in converting five of its public transit vehicles to natural gas.

“The city should have the biggest concerns as well as El Dorado County,” Cole said. “There’s been inequality in the past process. It’s been like the central planning of the Soviet Union. At least allow the city to make up for lost inventory over the last 10 years.”

Carl Hasty, TRPA deputy director, said the agency would be willing to work with the counties and city as the first performance review is completed. The results of that work will be reported to the Governing Board in March.

“We’re not interested here in (creating a system) that’s impossible to attain,” Hasty said. “We’re interested in bona fide accomplishments. Not everything translates directly to general fund expenditures by each jurisdiction. We’ll come back in March to see if we need to amend the ordinance.”

Pat Synder, a South Shore resident for over 20 years, owns land on Hekpa Drive on which he plans to build. He attended the meeting Wednesday to find out if the agency is going to cut building at the basin.

In 2001, Synder submitted a $1,300 deposit to get in line and wait for an allocation. He says he’s not sure when he’ll get permission to apply for a building permit.

“I’m bitter allocations are being pulled away from the general public,” Synder, 46, a roofing contractor, said. “Huge redevelopment projects have been allowed; now they want to take away allocations from people who are waiting to build a home. That’s a terrible threat.”

The League to Save Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Area Sierra Club — two environmental groups that don’t want to see any development at the basin — said they were pleased the system passed. Both groups said they had participated in months worth of negotiations to reach an acceptable middle ground.

“Yes, we’re very pleased with the vote,” said Rochelle Nason, the League’s executive director. “It’s important because it establishes a requirement that development in the basin be directly linked to environmental improvements.

“The board did the right thing. The city needs some time to get its act together. They were represented in the process … but we look forward to working with the city and addressing its concerns.”

In other action, the Governing Board voted to:

n Approve a fertilizer management plan that requires people who manage more than 1 acre of turf to submit fertilizer reports to the TRPA annually.

n To move a deadline for the installation of erosion controls (BMPs) in Priority 3 watershed from 2011 to 2008.


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