Request to chop down trees may cost $50 |

Request to chop down trees may cost $50

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Basin planners are looking to charge a $50 application fee to people asking to remove a tree on the California side of Lake Tahoe.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency says it needs the money so it can hire a forester and alleviate the long waiting list for tree inspections that exists for property owners in California.

For more than a year, TRPA forester Jesse Jones has been conducting all inspections in addition to his normal workload. The fee would not apply to a tree that fire officials at the basin say must be removed because it presents a hazard.

Inspections on the Nevada side of the lake will continue to be conducted without an application fee by the Nevada Department of Forestry. In 2001, the California Department of Forestry discontinued its inspections at the basin because state funding dried up.

The application fee will be voted on Wednesday when the Governing Board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency meets at the Horizon Casino Resort.

Also on Wednesday, the Governing Board is expected to vote on the release of the basin’s 248 allocations of development for this building season. Ten percent of the released allocations each year are reserved for property owners at the basin who are denied the right to build on land because it is deemed too sensitive.

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The owners have the option to transfer the allocation to less sensitive property so building can begin there, sell the allocations, or do nothing and the allocation gets returned to a general pool.

This year, South Lake Tahoe is slated to receive 41 allocations, so four of them would be held over for people who have been denied building rights because their land is deemed too sensitive.

Planners this year used a new system to determine how many allocations each jurisdiction — four counties and South Lake Tahoe — will receive. Last year, the TRPA released 300 allocations and about 225 were used.

The system is designed to link the amount of development at the basin to environmental protection work. A report card issued by the TRPA in December 2001 warned that not enough work is being done to protect Lake Tahoe, which is losing more of its clear water every year.

The system awards additional allocations for each jurisdiction that shows an increase in transportation funding, submittal of environmental improvement program project lists, for the creation of programs to get more erosion controls installed on private property and for permit compliance.

The Governing Board on Wednesday will also vote on a proposed decrease for the individual parcel evaluation system (IPES) lines in El Dorado and Douglas counties.

It is the first time since the IPES system was adopted in 1987 that the IPES line in El Dorado County will decrease. It is expected to drop from 726 to 693.

Douglas’ IPES line is expected to drop from 408 to 106, the lowest it can go. A lower line means more land will become eligible to develop. Capital improvements and monitoring projects, as well as the retirement of sensitive land, allow the TRPA to decrease IPES lines.

Also Wednesday, UC Davis will present its plan to build a environmental research facility for its Tahoe Research Group at one of two sites near Tahoe City.

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at