Group petitions City of South Lake Tahoe for Loop Road ballot measure
May 25, 2016
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — A group calling themselves the Let Tahoe Decide committee submitted a petition to the City of South Lake Tahoe on Monday, May 23, proposing a city ballot measure for the Tahoe Transportation District's controversial U.S. Highway 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project — commonly referred to as the "Loop Road."
"This is a major project. It's going to have a wide impact," committee leader and former city councilman Bruce Grego said. "We want to give the voters an opportunity to have a choice to see if this ultimately will go through or not. It's equally conceivable that the public will reject it as well as accept it."
The group reportedly submitted a petition with 1,459 signatures. It was subsequently sent to El Dorado County for signature verification.
The city did not respond to the Tribune's request for a timeline for review and potential outcomes regarding the petition.
Among the concerns, the group questions the project's possible economic impact as well as whether or not there is a need to address traffic.
"I don't think it's in our interest," Grego said. "I'm still willing to listen to arguments in its favor."
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While the three primary petitioners are openly opposed to the project, Grego said the petition was more about having local residents decide.
The project is currently under environmental review with a proposed option expected to be released for public comment in June.
Without a vote, the TTD will still have to get approval from South Lake Tahoe City Council as well as Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and other state and county entities.
Reached for comment, TTD director Carl Hasty questioned the need for a vote, describing a thorough public outreach campaign by his organization.
"I think the public participation in this has been extraordinary," he said of efforts thus far. "We've answered these things over and over again. Whether people continue to discount it, that's their right."
Speaking to the efforts led by Grego, Hasty said, "It seems like a political move."
He defended his group's stance as following federal and state guidelines for such a project.
"We are not following an unusual path here," he said. "There are plenty of examples of that to go around."
Earlier this month, the TTD's board of directors unanimously approved the project along with a set of principles to guide its implementation.
Among the guidelines, the group affirmed that all right-of-way issues would be addressed prior to construction, and it would not move forward until fully funded.
The group also acknowledged that they will follow federal guidelines for acquiring properties along the proposed route.
Acquisition would include relocation assistance for both property owners and renters.
More project information is available at http://www.tahoetransportation.org/us50.
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