TRPA needs to vote no on scenic shorezone plane |

TRPA needs to vote no on scenic shorezone plane


There is no other place like Lake Tahoe. It is a jewel among lakes. No matter the reason we live or visit here, the lake remains the focal point for residents and tourists.

It is without question that the clarity of the lake is of utmost importance. We are concerned about runoff whether it be chemicals from lawns, or erosion from construction or forest fires. We are concerned about MTBE pollution and anything that would cloud Lake Tahoe’s emerald waters.

Now the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency wants us to be concerned about another type of pollution — ostentatious buildings, more specifically houses on the shores of Lake Tahoe. The bi-state agency wants to regulate what property owners can do in regards to the design and color scheme of their structure. And if the TRPA does not like it, then it wants the power to tell the owner how much of the building can face the lake.

The TRPA has done and will continue to do wonderful things to protect Lake Tahoe. What it is delving into now is a matter of personal choice. If the Governing Board adopts the scenic shorezone plan at its Sept. 25 meeting, it will be making a huge mistake. It is reassuring to know a number of meetings are being conducted to solicit public input on this controversial topic instead of TRPA taking a slam dunk approach to it.

No one wants an unsightly shoreline. But we also do not need to have Big Brother breathing down our backs. There are already a number of lakeside buildings. From a boat or the beach the South Shore casinos are visible, as are condominium complexes, restaurants and a golf course. Then there is the Tahoe Keys, which having been built on a meadow would surely never get the necessary permits today.

It is not that we want more construction that is an eyesore. We want regulations that are well thought out and logical. The TRPA in its own literature says that in 2001, 14 out of 33 properties were out of compliance with scenic standards. One of the reasons, according to TRPA, is the unauthorized removal of trees and other vegetation.

It would seem more logical for TRPA to be going after people who are illegally chopping down trees than worrying about what color a house is painted. It does not matter if it is a small cabin or multimillion dollar home being constructed on the lake, rules need to be followed. TRPA needs to be enforcing the rules already in place. There needs to be hefty penalties for people who violate the rules so others will be discouraged from doing the same.

There are neighborhoods throughout the country that have covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R). Regulations can range from not being able to park a recreational vehicle on the street to not being able to leave a redwood gazebo its natural color, but instead having to paint it white. When you buy a home in these neighborhoods you know what the rules are. The TRPA is in effect creating a CC&R for property owners around the lake.

No homeowner is going to intentionally build an ugly house. Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However, the shoreline is not going to be more attractive by having every house look the same. TRPA is concerned about asethetics. But the reality is most of these homes that are on the shore are seen only by a few people out in boats. Many of the boaters are motoring by the homes precisely because of their opulence. There is no question we would rather see new construction that fits into the natural mountain environment. But let’s be realistic, no one is being hurt by shoreline homes built to reflect their owners’ desires. TRPA has enough rules in place to regulate building, does it really need to be micromanaging homeowners down to the color of a house?

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