Controversial scenic issue comes to a vote |

Controversial scenic issue comes to a vote

A more restrictive version of the contentious scenic ordinances proposed for Lake Tahoe’s shorezone could face a final vote on Wednesday if the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Governing Board allows it.

If allowed, the vote would be a reversal of its October decision to table the matter until January, a decision board chair and Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller said was an error in judgment made during his absence.

“The board stubbed its toe in October,” Heller said last week on why he called for reconsideration of the matter.

The January delay was intended to give a select group of homeowners, real estate professionals and environmentalists a chance to reach a compromise in efforts that began in July.

But these negotiations collapsed after the Committee for Reasonable Regulation of Lake Tahoe filed a lawsuit to preserve its legal right to challenge the agency’s 2001 Threshold Evaluation, which underlies the proposed scenic regulations.

TRPA Executive Director Juan Palma said he took the filing as a sign of bad faith because the committee could have asked for further filing deadline extensions but did not. Palma also cited 70 issues he said were unsolvable in the allotted time and he sided with Heller’s decision to bring the matter back.

According to TRPA chief counsel John Marshall, the scenic rules before the Governing Board on Wednesday are based on a review by TRPA’s “scenic mentors” of the less-restrictive version presented on Oct. 29 at the negotiating group’s final meeting.

Marshall said the main feature of the newly revised rules includes a return to tying compliance level to a project’s cost, rather than to net modified visible lakeside facade. Otherwise, Marshall said, a total rebuild with the same visible square footage as a razed home would not have to comply.

Another major change is the removal of caps on the amount of window lake views that could be blocked by scenic rule compliance triggered by any single project.

Marshall said that in general homeowners could minimize view blockage by using scenic breaks on facade portions where there are no windows.

Included in the meeting agenda packet is an analysis by Johnson-Perkins and Associates of the proposed scenic rules’ impact on Lake Tahoe Basin property values. The report says that while those intending new development and major reconstruction will likely suffer a “significant decline in the value” of homes because of view reduction, such projects represent a small fraction of the what is possible.

The report also states that the proposed rules would have little effect on property tax levels in the Tahoe basin because California statutes cap property taxes far below market levels, and Nevada statutes permit an annual 1.5 percent property value depreciation.

In other matters, the Governing Board will consider:

A 25 cent increase in the Rental Car Mitigation fee.

Presentation of the Martis Valley Master Plan and Environmental Impact Report.

Consent calendar items slated for approval include:

A pier rebuild and expansion to multiple use at 589 Lakeshore Dr. in Incline Village.

A land capability challenge by the Incline Village General Improvement District for land behind its Public Works facility.

The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. in the North Tahoe Conference Center, 8318 North Lake Blvd., Kings Beach. For questions, call (775) 588-4547, or visit the Web site

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