Fair treatment, even for Bluth
August 26, 2004
It’s easy for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to pick battles it can win, but in the case of Logan Shoals property owner Chuck Bluth, the best tack is to deal with him the way the agency deals with everyone else, not “seek every punitive step,” as Governing Board member Drake DeLanoy suggested at Wednesday’s TRPA meeting. Even the TRPA’s harshest critics – like critics of any government agency – deserve fair treatment.
In a story this week in the Tribune, Bluth railed against the TRPA with familiar criticism of its development policies in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Bluth, a developer and wealthy owner of the Cal-Neva casino, has been improving his lakefront property in Logan Shoals much to the chagrin of the agency. They say he has performed unauthorized work on land surrounding his home. He says the agency has unfairly targeted him and other wealthy landowners, and vows to take the issue to court.
The TRPA had hoped to negotiate a settlement – including an approximately $150,000 fine – that would satisfy the agency’s building requirements. And they had hoped to do it before the governing board met Wednesday.
No such luck.
Bluth, who says the negotiation is really “blackmail,” is ready to fight the TRPA and its policies, even though, historically, the TRPA usually wins these battles. A day after the story ran, DeLanoy, apparently annoyed at Bluth’s disregard of TRPA directives, appears ready to make an example of Bluth. But stacking the charges, just because a property owner has publicly criticized the agency, will only result in negative publicity the TRPA doesn’t need, especially as it continues to rebuild a tarnished image.
In the initial article, TRPA spokeswoman Julie Regan put it best, “The rules apply across the board for everyone in the basin, for small homeowners and for larger projects.”
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If the TRPA stands by its rules, and the courts back them up, there is nothing good that can come from seeking to make an example of Bluth.
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