BMPs, coverage transfers, focus of TRPA subcommittees |

BMPs, coverage transfers, focus of TRPA subcommittees

Tom Lotshaw

One Tahoe Regional Planning Agency subcommittee is looking for ways to get more people to implement best management practices on their properties in the Lake Tahoe Basin, in hopes of improving average compliance rates of 62 percent in Nevada and 28 percent in California.

A second subcommittee is reviewing regulations that prohibit transfers of impervious land coverage between watersheds.

“We’re hoping we can come up with some targeted, feasible recommendations we can advance on some of these topics,” said Shay Navarro, senior planner at the bistate TRPA, who is working with the two subcommittees.

Reviews of BMP compliance options and coverage transfers are top priorities for the TRPA Governing Board this year.

With representatives from California and Nevada, technical experts and people from environmental and business groups, the subcommittees met last week to hash out a framework for their discussions. They meet again in July and August. Their proposed discussions will be reviewed at a Regional Plan Implementation Committee meeting in April.

BMPs must be installed and maintained on developed parcels in the Lake Tahoe Basin in an effort to minimize soil erosion, capture polluted stormwater and increase fire defensible space. Finding a way to get more people to install and maintain them is the BMP subcommittee’s primary charge.

Governing Board member Shelly Aldean of Carson City, Nev., who sits on the BMP subcommittee, pushed to include a discussion topic on ways to help people install BMPs on their properties.

“Not everyone in Tahoe has the wherewithal to install these sometimes very expensive BMPs. If we can help them beyond the technical assistance we’ve been offering, that’s something we should strive to do,” Aldean said.

The average cost of installing BMPs is $5,000 for a residential property and $50,000 for a commercial or multifamily property. The stormwater pollution potential of commercial and multifamily properties is eight times greater than single-family homes, while primary and secondary roads can contribute up to 20 times more pollution than a single-family home, according to TRPA.

A breakdown of the average compliance rates shows that single-family homes have compliance rates of 23 percent in California and 50 percent in Nevada while commercial properties have compliance rates of 29 percent in California and 71 percent in Nevada. Compliance rates of multi-family properties are 54 percent in California and 75 percent in Nevada.

Some other future discussion topics include requiring BMP installation on properties or the posting of a financial guarantee at point-of-sale; enforcement options such as recording a notice of noncompliance to property deeds; targeting accelerated BMP implementation in coordination with local government stormwater pollutant load reduction plans; and better promotion of area-wide BMPs involving multiple properties.

Some members of the real estate industry opposed discussion of requiring BMPs at point-of-sale or recording noncompliance to property deeds.

Such proposals have been discussed in the past and rejected, raise “grave concerns” for the industry and would be met with strong opposition, said John Falk, legislative advocate for Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors.

That view was shared by Natalie Yanish, president of the South Tahoe Association of Realtors.

“They should be focusing on solutions that actually work. Preventing people from being able to sell their home is not a solution,” she said.

Other members of the subcommittee, including Governing Board member and San Francisco attorney Clem Shute, pushed for the topics to remain on the table for discussion.

The other subcommittee will review restrictions on the transfer of impervious land coverage.

Coverage can be transferred as a development commodity among properties. But transfers cannot cross watershed boundaries, of which there are nine in the Tahoe Basin: Agate Bay, Cave Rock, Emerald Bay, Incline, Marlette, McKinney Bay, South Stateline, Tahoe City and Upper Truckee.

The restriction affects both the cost and availability of coverage. Prices for coverage range from as little as $5 to as much as $100 per square foot among the nine watersheds. It also limits the ability to transfer coverage from outlying areas and sensitive environments into town centers targeted for environmental redevelopment in the Regional Plan Update.

Some future discussion items will include: Allowing transfers across watershed boundaries, amending boundaries, allowing cross-boundary transfers that remove coverage from sensitive lands or lead to environmental redevelopment, and allowing coverage transfers out of Incline, Cave Rock and South Stateline watersheds that have more coverage than they are allowed.

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