Editorial: Extend BMP deadline to avoid gridlock
For many South Shore homeowners, those pesky BMPs – Best Management Practices – will be due by year’s end, and it seems unlikely that many will make the deadline. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency-mandated installation of devices like driveway “swales,” and water runoff “inversion wells” has homeowners scrambling, but at least one of the agencies that does site evaluations for BMP planning is likely booked until the end of summer.
Perhaps it is time, then, for the TRPA to officially extend the deadline, or even provide a new set of deadlines so homeowners understand their options.
Whether or not property owners agree with the TRPA mandates, they have had more than a decade to meet the requirements, and many have. But the situation as it stands now is not about how prudent homeowners have been in planning, it is about finding the best solution to the BMP backlog. If the agency still believes BMPs installed on each individual property is the preferred method to reduce pollutant runoff to Lake Tahoe, a deadline extension is the best means to that end.
The alternative is enforcement of the current deadline(s), which will result in a bunch of disgruntled property owners and a black eye to the public image of the TRPA. The agency has said clearly that it will not penalize homeowners that are making reasonable efforts to get started on their BMP projects, but that is not enough. TRPA needs to provide clear, definitive guidance to homeowners – these projects will cost some thousands of dollars, hours of time, and without deadlines projects will continue to drag on until penalties are imposed. Threats of penalties doesn’t work.
The Tahoe Resource Conservation District, which does site evaluations on Lake Tahoe’s California side, has a waiting list 1,000 homeowners long and has said it likely cannot handle many more site evaluations before year’s end. A drive around South Shore – or anywhere else in the Lake Tahoe Basin – illustrates that the BMP backlog is significantly more than a couple thousand properties. It is many tens of thousands.
Critics that call the effectiveness of BMPs into question may have a valid argument. But that is another debate, and until it is resolved, the TRPA should regroup, breakdown BMP deadlines by streets, neighborhoods or some other more manageable method, and in essence, start over.