Agencies show willingness to listen
Two proposed changes in boating rules at Emerald Bay have raised the concerns of everyone from the boating community to environmentalists. Hopefully, Tuesday’s South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting that included a Q-and-A with Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Executive Director John Singlaub and Hayden Sohm, superintendent of the Sierra District of State Parks, indicates the agencies’ willingness to work with the public toward a solution.
The TRPA, in releasing the newest proposed shorezone rules, has been taking heat for a plan to disallow motorized boats in Emerald Bay one day a weekend, two months a summer.
As with all public agencies, the TRPA has had to contend with residents charging they are being blind-sided with this proposal, when in fact development of the shorezone rules has been a public process. The proposal, which was offered during public comment as early as last year, was reported by this and other media outlets.
Despite the confusion, Singlaub and the TRPA deserve credit for reinviting debate on the issue. Now that the cat is out of the bag, the public has an opportunity to express its opinions about the merits of the proposed shorezone rules. It’s up to TRPA to decide what to do with those opinions.
In an unrelated move, state parks officials decided in recent weeks to enforce a ban on overnight camping at Emerald Bay, reversing a long-standing practice of non-enforcement. The agency has since backed down, following a public outcry.
State Parks claims that pollution, including spilled oils, trash and human waste, is causing an environmental problem at Emerald Bay and other Lake Tahoe anchorages. This might be true, but littering and dumping is the culprit, not camping. Perhaps State Parks can work with other agencies, including the TRPA, to legalize overnight boat camping, and pursue an education campaign designed to eliminate the real problem.
The public has a right to air its opinions on these and other issues, even if their knowledge of the issues is limited. And it is right for the people’s government agencies to listen, and take the public’s opinion into account.
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