SB630 in Calif. heads to governor’s office |

SB630 in Calif. heads to governor’s office

Eric Heinz

A bill that re-solidifies California’s stake in development regulations in the Lake Tahoe Bi-State Compact passed unanimously 37-0 Tuesday in the state assembly and is now in the hands of Gov. Jerry Brown.

Senate Bill 630 is series of amendments to the Bi-State Compact, which recognizes Tahoe Regional Planning Agency as an entity governing the Lake Tahoe Basin development and environmental laws and procedures between Nevada and California. Changes in the Regional Plan Update, which dictates the actions governed by the TRPA, were challenged by a lawsuit from the Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore in February, and an official ruling from a federal judge has yet to be made.

All that’s left is the governor’s signature for California law to recognize the revised standards.

According to the background portion of a Senate Bill 630 Analysis on Sept. 5, developers in Nevada complained the 1987 Regional Plan Update land-use and environmental regulations were too restrictive.

The latest bill was established as a go-between to compromise in the wake of Nevada’s 2011 Senate Bill 271, which threatened to withdraw the state from the Bi-State Compact as early as 2015 if California legislators did not agree to specific changes.

After an agreement between Brown and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, Nevada legislature passed Senate Bill 229 in June in support of the new development terms, the analysis stated.

Part of the bill, “Creates the Lake Tahoe Science and Lake Improvement Account (Account), which will be funded by rental income from surface uses for public trust lands at Lake Tahoe,” according to the analysis.

The TRPA currently runs on a $14.7 million budget, according to the bill, with California contributing $4.1 million, Nevada contributing $1.3 million and federal funding contributing $6.6 million. The rest is from miscellaneous sources.

The bill also places a burden of proof on a part that challenges the TRPA and directs the TRPA Regional Plan Update “reflects economic considerations in the Lake Tahoe Basin,” the analysis stated.

The changes Bi-state Compact must be ratified by U.S. Congress in order to have legal standing.

Changes in the Regional Plan Update, the agreement between California and Nevada that recognizes the TRPA’s authority, were challenged by a lawsuit from the Sierra Club and Friends of the West shore in February, and an official ruling from a federal judge is yet to be made.

In a Tahoe Daily Tribune article Aug. 16, Sierra Club Tahoe Area President Laurel Ames said the group’s largest concern was the bill did not thoroughly address turbidity (water clarify) and particulates that may go into the lake as a result of development, as well as various other environmental standards.

A press release from the League to Save Lake Tahoe echoed past sentiments in support of the bill to keep the TRPA as the main regulator of the Lake Tahoe Basin.

“This legislation was always about preserving one regulator at Lake Tahoe,” league director Darcie Goodman-Collins stated in a news release Tuesday. “Without the TRPA, we risked having different environmental ordinances and regulators in each of the two states, five counties and one city that share the lake.”

Nevada Conservation League also stated support for the bill’s ratification in the league’s news release.

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