Commisioners critical of transportation plan |

Commisioners critical of transportation plan

Michael Schneider

A recent push by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to classify the Tahoe Basin as a Metropolitan Planning Organization is not likely to be supported by Douglas County.

The county commission is currently on record as tentatively supporting the Tahoe MPO designation.

TRPA representative Pam Drum appeared before the commission Thursday, the fourth time TRPA staff members have been before the commission regarding the TMPO this year.

The TRPA has successfully convinced most basin governments and boards that the MPO designation would free up more federal dollars for road improvement projects, but Douglas commissioners see it as another layer of government through which to wade.

Douglas support may not be needed. Only 75 percent of the basin’s governing bodies must support the TMPO designation. It also must be supported by both California and Nevada governors.

Commissioners will bring the item before the board again Nov. 5 with a staff recommendation to rescind preliminary support for the TMPO.

“The only bright spot I can see in this is I get a chance to vote ‘no’ again,” Commissioner Kelly Kite said. Kite has been opposed to the TMPO since it was first brought before the board and voted against it when the board decided to conditionally approve its formation.

Commissioner Steve Weissinger, who supported the TMPO at first, said he was afraid the county will become mired in red tape should the designation pass.

“It is much to my chagrin that I admit Commissioner Kite was right and I was dead wrong,” Commission Chair Jacques Etchegoyhen said. Etchegoyhen voted with Weissinger and Lake Commissioner Don Miner to support the TMPO on the first go-around.

As part of the approved motion Thursday, commissioners will not only bring the item before them to withdraw their support early next month, they also authorized Etchegoyhen to write a letter to the TRPA Governing Board and other cities and counties in the Tahoe Basin outlining Douglas’ concerns.

Commissioners will consider holding a workshop with other cities and counties within the basin to “show them how wrong they are in supporting this,” according to Kite.

Not giving up on the TMPO entirely, the commission passed a motion also directing the county staff to continue to meet with the TMPO formation committee in an effort to get county concerns addressed.

Bob Nunes, community development director, said the county is concerned that, once the TMPO is in existence, bad air quality, for example, in Tahoe City could halt redevelopment projects in Douglas County. According to Nunes, the entire TMPO would be treated as one entity and, if air quality thresholds were not met in one area, the entire MPO area would have to stop planned and current projects to study and mitigate the air quality.

A slightly dejected Drum told the county the TRPA is still willing to pursue Douglas support.

“We look forward to continued discussions,” Drum told the commission. “We’ll talk as long as it takes to get your questions answered.”

Douglas support may not be needed. Only 75 percent of the basin’s governing bodies must support the TMPO designation. It also must be supported by both California and Nevada governors.

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