TRPA change is too little, much too late |

TRPA change is too little, much too late

Finally M.K. Desai and his family can leave town. No, they haven’t been detained by local law enforcement. They have been forced to stay in town by bad Tahoe Regional Planning Agency policy.

For a number of years, the Desais have been trying to sell their Cedarwood Lodge and move to the Bay Area. But despite the fact he had buyers, Desai couldn’t sell.

The small motel, which is wedged into a commercial section of Highway 50 next to the Taco Bell, had long since lost its viability. The location may have been okay when the Desais bought the property 12 years ago, but the site is squeezed between a fast-food restaurant, a bagel shop and an auto repair shop – hardly the kind of accommodations tourists envision when they consider a trip to Lake Tahoe.

No matter. Neighboring Taco Bell wanted to buy Desai out and expand its business. That’s when the TRPA said no.

Under TRPA policy, if Taco Bell bought the property, a significant amount of the site could not have been developed and would have been designated as green space.

That’s because under prior TRPA regulations, a motel could only be a motel.

Fortunately, many years and many battles later, the TRPA has agreed to change its policy. Desai can now convert his lodging property from tourist accommodation units into commercial floor area. That allows Desai to sell some of the value of his commercial units to another entity require more commercial units to get its project approved. Office Depot snatched up the units, allowing that corporation to get necessary number for its proposed project at the old Wallace Theater.

Everybody’s happy, right?

No exactly.

While TRPA should be credited with finally changing its regulation requiring motel owners to sell only to other motel owners, the decision was far too long in the making. These are the kinds of regulations that keep small-business owners in the horrible Catch-22 called the TRPA.

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