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Pathway 2007 process is getting bumpy

Andrew Pridgen

INCLINE VILLAGE – Representatives from the League to Save Lake Tahoe and Placer County came out swinging Thursday in the first Pathway 2007 meeting of 2006, threatening legal action and asking that standards be revised.

A discussion of what Pathway officials dubbed a general overview of work in 2005 quickly turned contentious when issues were raised about water and air quality standards and transportation goals.

Rochelle Nason, director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, questioned whether water quality protections complied with Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s compact. Nason implied legal action may be the league’s eventual course if an effort is not made to meet or surpass current standards through scientific study.

“We are not going to agree to (Pathway’s) adoption unless we have at least what we do now,” Nason told the forum. “We are not going to change unless we have adequate analysis. What this group needs to think about is reaching thresholds, not making them weaker.”

Pathway 2007 is a collaborative process to come up with 20-year plans for the four most influential agencies in the Lake Tahoe Basin: the TRPA, U.S. Forest Service, Lahontan Water Board and Nevada Division of Environmental Protection. Organizers tout it is as being inclusive to all public, private and business stakeholders in the basin.

TRPA executive director John Singlaub bristled at the League’s suggestion that his agency is not following procedure with regard to setting water quality standards.

“Rochelle has proposed a legal opinion about the compact that the TRPA does not agree with,” Singlaub said.

Other forum members lauded the league’s notion to “put their cards on the table early.” They also said the forum’s goal was not to damage the environment, but to adhere to Singlaub’s “triple bottom-line,” a notion of including the environmental interests along with the community and economy in all Pathway plans.

South Lake Tahoe city manager David Jinkens said he supports the highest possible environmental standards.

“And you have to understand – and I think Rochelle understands – that we’re not using voodoo science, or ’60s science, but sound science,” Jinkens said. “We’re here to use the best technologies in the world to adhere to the (highest) standards.”

The discrepancy in numbers continued as Jennifer Merchant, Tahoe manager for Placer County executive office, had several questions about the forum’s findings on transportation.

“I’m still unclear on how indicators and standards are not only going to be used, but how they are (being) made,” Merchant said. There is not enough data to support any of the transportation standards proposed so far.

Standards requiring public transit use in North Shore to increase to 8 percent of the traveling public – from 1 or 2 percent today – was “just one example of the unrealistic expectations” of the current plan.

Merchant said part of the problem is many of the studies have been conducted only for South Shore.

“I recommend the deletion of any numerical standards (goals) until further studies can be made,” Merchant said.

Pathway facilitators noted the first meetings in 2006 were set specifically to revisit issues, not for implementation.

Inclement weather prevented covering all agendized items, which were water and air quality, transportation, and fish and wildlife. Three additional overview meetings are scheduled through February.

Pathway 2007 meeting

When: Friday, Jan. 27

Where: Embassy Suites, 4130 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

Time: 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Topics: Scenic, socioeconomics, noise, vegetation

Web: http://www.Pathway2007.org


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