Open dialogue promised between environmental groups, TRPA |

Open dialogue promised between environmental groups, TRPA

Executive Director Juan Palma said he plans to have open dialogue between the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and other Tahoe environmental groups so all interested parties are involved in basin decisions.

“(TRPA) needs to do more than just lead and regulate, we need to facilitate,” Palma said. “We have a hammer that we can use, but we believe the hammer, or regulation, can only take us so far.”

Palma said TRPA’s major goal is to start the implementation process of the Environmental Improvement Program, a plan that identifies $908 million worth of capital improvement projects that need to be made by 2007 in order for the agency to meet its environmental thresholds.

TRPA’s thresholds include preserving and improving water quality, soil conservation, air quality, vegetation, wildlife, fisheries, recreation and scenery.

The EIP, passed by the TRPA governing board in 1998, identifies the local, state and federal governments along with the private sector as picking up the bill for implementation of these projects.

Palma said he will have to evaluate TRPA’s human resources in order to identify what the agency needs to do to make the EIP implementation possible. Palma said more employees will need to be hired and training of current employees is a possibility.

“To implement the EIP of the $1 billion that we’re talking about we have to make sure we have the capacity to handle the size of a program like that,” Palma said. “We need to hire or train our employees so we have the right skills and the right number of skills.”

Palma said state funding adds four new positions for the agency this year.

More efficient technology is a short-term goal of Palma’s in the new millennium. He hopes to get a more customer-friendly Web site online in a couple of months.

TRPA’s Web site only lets people download petitions and then file them in person with the agency office. Palma wants to allow petitioners to file online and check the status of their permits via the Web as well.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s goals for 2001

-Develop and implement more efficient technology to better serve customers

-Facilitate collaborative community partnerships

-Implement the Environmental Improvement Program

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