Editorial: City, TRPA compromise for good of community
The city of South Lake Tahoe has reached a tentative compromise with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency that could improve the environment and avoid a counterproductive fine.
It’s a reasonable settlement that reflects the ability of the two government entities to work together for the common good.
The TRPA may require the city to install erosion-control measures and restore thousands of acres of land at the site as punishment for illegally removing 387 trees at the Lake Tahoe Airport in 2006. In January of that year, the TRPA levied a $500,000 fine on the city for removing trees that were larger than 6 inches in diameter without a valid TRPA permit.
Under TRPA regulations, the agency could have fined the city $1.9 million for the infraction but lowered the amount after reasoning that the penalty probably would have been paid using public funds.
According to the draft settlement reached recently, the city would pay no fine but would be required to permanently remove a 13-by-1,300-foot section of pavement adjacent to the runway’s northeastern edge covering land defined as a stream environment zone.
The city also would have to replace a 15,600-square-foot section of pavement next to the runway with pervious concrete, which reduces runoff by allowing water to seep into the soil beneath.
The TRPA Governing Board will discuss the draft settlement today during its meeting at The Chateau in Incline Village.
The TRPA noted in a recent staff memo that by removing the concrete – thus decreasing the width of the runway – and replacing other existing concrete with impervious material would “reduce the impact of runoff and, therefore, sedimentation into the Upper Truckee River.”
According to Assistant City Manager Rick Angelocci, the reduced runway would not have a major impact on current airport operations but could discourage commercial carriers from using large jets if scheduled flights are re-established at the airport.
Barring complications, we urge the TRPA Governing Board to seriously examine the draft settlement and authorize the city to move forward with its airport projects.