On the pathway to a better future
November 17, 2005
Property owners in Tahoe could see some changes in development restrictions come 2007.
John Singlaub, executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, told community representatives Thursday the TRPA Governing Board expects changes in the land scoring systems currently used by the time TRPA completes its next 20-year plan.
One of the long range strategies for keeping nutrients and sediments out of Lake Tahoe has been restricting development. Commercial properties may not build on more than 50 percent of their land, while residential properties are limited to 30 percent, and some much less than that.
“Most of the complaints we get are about land coverage restrictions,” said Julie Regan, TRPA spokeswoman. “We want to use the creativity of the forum to come up with a way to improve the system. Right now the code is not flexible.”
The forum she refers to is Pathway 2007.
For the past couple years, four of Tahoe’s most influential agencies have invited the public’s input on how they ought to revise their 20-year plans through the Pathway 2007 process. More information is at http://www.Pathway2007.org. Meetings are open to the public.
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Around 40 forum members are grappling with standards for transportation, recreation, water quality and development.
What they come up with may affect where residents can ride their snowmobile, how much land houses can cover, or whether public transportation will expand.
It’s called “collaboration” and some think it’s a new bird in the Tahoe basin.
“In the past it wasn’t an inclusive process,” said Blaise Carrig, CEO of Heavenly Mountain Resort. He’s representing national recreation concerns in Pathway.
Scientists and agency staff are joining with homeowners, business people and recreation and conservation advocates to come up with answers for Tahoe’s future.
“It really is defining how the basin is going to be managed,” said Dave Hamilton, a theater teacher at Lake Tahoe Community College who represents nonmotorized recreation groups like mountain bikers, hikers, kayakers and skiers on the forum.
“Everyone will not be in agreement,” Hamilton said, “but we will have the best overall plans that could be created.”
At a forum meeting Thursday, members tackled the ever-important issues of lake clarity and development.
Lake Tahoe is not meeting current standards for clarity, although it surpasses standards for human health. Officials with the Lahontan Water Board presented their thoughts on what the region’s water quality goals ought to be and how to attain them.
Lahontan’s executive director Harold Singer broke it down for the audience when the slimy subject of rock algae came up as an indicator of lake clarity.
“Do we want to be able to see the lake bottom, and if so, what do we want to see on the bottom if we can see it?” Singer said.
While many agree Lake Tahoe’s clarity is vital to the economy and the environment, they don’t agree on just how clear the lake must be.
“Is 27 meters a valid standard?” asked Carrig. His remarks were echoed by redevelopment attorney Lew Feldman and business representative Carl Ribaudo.
“There’s consensus that reducing nutrients will be beneficial to lake clarity,” Feldman said. “But whether the results will be achievable in my lifetime, or your lifetime, we are still trying to understand.”