Legislative committee urges compromise on scenic issues
INCLINE VILLAGE — Speaking firmly to both sides of a controversial plan to limit scenic impact from homes on the Lake Tahoe shoreline, Nevada Senator Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, urged them to seek a compromise as he recessed a special meeting of the Nevada legislative committee with oversight of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
“I think there’s more work to be done,” Amodei said. “I’m hoping differences can be put aside so that people from outside the (Tahoe Basin) don’t have to come in and get involved.”
The Monday meeting was called by Amodei after members of the committee received considerable correspondence about the proposed TRPA plan.
In attendance were nearly 200 people, nearly all of whom vociferously opposed the plan.
Critics say basin home values and, consequently, county tax bases would take big hits because the plan would limit lake views of the shoreline homes. They cite the suggested use of landscaping to screen lake-facing exteriors, and say this would inevitably be used to screen some windows.
“The scheme involves massive, illegal and uncompensated takings,” said Bob Davidson, president of the Committee for the Reasonable Regulation of Lake Tahoe, adding that the likely outcome would require compensation to affected homeowners.
TRPA says the plan is needed to repair a decade of degraded shorezone scenic problems associated with buildings that don’t blend with the natural surroundings. Scenic resources are one of the nine thresholds TRPA adopted in 1982 as needing protection, and that would provide an “equilibrium” between the built and natural environments of the Tahoe Basin.
TRPA Executive Director Juan Palma and chairman of the agency’s Governing Board Dean Heller spoke on behalf of the plan.
Heller said TRPA attempted to seek compromise on the scenic ordinances, but received little in return from the plan’s critics.
“They say, ‘We’re against, against, against’,” Heller said. “We can’t negotiate until we can come to a spot where we can compromise.”
The meeting was held in The Chateau, the same building where exactly 20 years ago to the day the Governing Board approved the nine thresholds. That approval, which took place after months of contention, was finally held up only by concern over the water-quality threshold.
Monday’s meeting was about the scenic threshold, and seemed to engender as much controversy as the pioneering meetings did two decades earlier. However, at least two members of the legislative committee seemed to grasp this only after raising the ire of the crowd.
“I just find this to be quite a bit of fuss about nothing, quite honestly,” said Assemblywoman Vivian Freeman, D-Reno, to jeers.
Sen. Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, abruptly left the meeting after audience members booed her as she sought to draw a parallel between a preserved historical district and the need for TRPA’s scenic efforts.
But others on the committee had concerns about the TRPA plan.
“Simply put, I think there’s too many unanswered questions,” said Assemblyman Greg Brower, R-Reno.
Supporters of the plan were few at the meeting. The environmental watchdog group League to Save Lake Tahoe gave cautious approval of the proposed regulation.
“We are very concerned that these measures are not adequate to preserve the scenic threshold,” said league executive director Rochelle Nason. “We are very skeptical.”
But she added that to have nothing in place would be “absolutely illegal.”
The committee recessed rather than adjourn the meeting to allow future discussion and voting on the matter.
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