Costs for coverage increase |

Costs for coverage increase

Environmental fees that will add thousands of dollars to the cost of Tahoe Basin construction projects went into effect Monday.

The fees apply to home additions, concrete foundations and other projects that exceed the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s 30 percent threshold for land coverage. Depending on the project site, the money either goes to the California Tahoe Conservancy or Nevada State Lands.

As an example, a 600-square-foot structure exceeding coverage standards in Douglas County would have to pay $7,218 in fees. The percentage of open space per parcel varies, depending on terrain and proximity to nearby watersheds.

The California fees amount to $6.50 per square foot of excess coverage, while Nevada’s average is $13.70 per square foot. That breaks down to $15.35 for Washoe County and $12.03 for Douglas County.

Business groups opposed the fees, which the TRPA Governing Board approved in May. At one point, the fee proposal called for $21 per square foot until business leaders insisted on a compromise.

“It seems like everybody was happy with that,” TRPA planner Gabby Barrett said of the scaled-down fee structure.

But Douglas County Commissioner Don Miner said he’s still not pleased. Miner serves on the Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce board, which, with the South Lake Tahoe chamber, opposed the new fees.

“(They) could be a damper on future projects,” Miner said. “The fees could be large enough to motivate people to not make improvements.”

Barrett noted California’s fees will be re-evaluated in the winter. A raise in rates for Nevada won’t occur for at least two years.

“If we find out rates are too high in Nevada, we can lower them,” Barrett said.

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