Shorezone plan’s release slated
STATELINE – An inference by Tahoe Regional Planning Agency executive director John Singlaub earlier this week that the agency’s long-waited shorezone plan could be released and mulled over the holidays came to fruition at the agency’s Wednesday governing board meeting.
Singlaub told the board and members of the public “we’re now in final review of the Shorezone EIS and plan to (release) it at the Nov. 15 board meeting.”
The plan, which has been in the works for more than two years with six different “alternatives” to choose from, has been Singlaub’s pet project since hired by the board in late-2003.
Since then, the executive director has directed staff to stay vigilant in creating a workable Shorezone plan which would, among other things, regulate the building of piers, the number of buoys on the lake as well as come up with some type of protocol to reduce boat emissions on the lake.
Those who’ve followed the process closely were encouraged in May when the agency released a preliminary version of the plan to the public and ensured that the plan and its accompanying ordinances would be released, per the board’s request, during the summer for a 60-day public review.
The ordinances never came and the plan’s release was pushed back indefinitely.
As a result, several environmental groups, concerned residents and even a handful of board members encouraged agency staff to delay the plan’s release until next summer, perhaps even folding it in with the Pathway 2007 regional plan.
This idea, however, was thwarted by Singlaub and his staff.
“If we begin the 60-day (review) process in November, the review would come (in front of the board) in January,” Singlaub said. “In other workshops around the basin (during that time) we intend to speak to different groups and test-drive the code.”
Singlaub noted the agency would make privy the ordinances to those who’ve also been most outspoken about any proposed plan. Singlaub named Jan Briscoe, executive director of the Tahoe Lakefront Owners Association, who has been one of the plan’s most outspoken critics, as an example of one the agency would be reaching out to.
Singlaub also mentioned new mitigation efforts to reduce pollution, possibly the boat sticker program, which will be released to local marinas for comment, and all basin operators have been amenable so far – save for Tahoe Keys.
Board member Norma Santiago was curious about the timing of the plan’s release and whether a board meeting was the proper venue. Singlaub noted the agency would “set aside a day for the (plan’s release) and public comment so the (public) could see what the plan could look like.”
In the week’s leading up to Singlaub’s announcement, environmental groups have been pushing for an interim plan or a delay to ‘fold-in” shorezone with the Pathway 20-year basin-wide plan (of which TRPA is a lso a lead agency).
Other environmentalists believe the opposite, that folding the shorezone plan into the basin-wide plan is the only sensical approach.
“In Pathway 2007 we’re trying to set the direction for the next 20 years,” said Sierra Club chair Michael Donahoe earlier this month. “We need to figure out a way to incorporate shorezone into Pathway 2007 and not do something with shorezone and then when we get to finalizing Pathway, having to backtrack. Once we make the decision, we have to meet the consistency.”
But with the announcement that a new plan would be coming before the public next month, some were more optimistic.
“We’ll see,” said League to Save Lake Tahoe program director John Friedrich. “We’ve all been waiting to see what they came up with.”
Since releasing Alternative 6 in summer 2005, TRPA dropped its suggestion to limit motorboat traffic in Emerald Bay on weekends and a requirement to remove buoys each winter from Lake Tahoe. It lowered buoy permitting fees from $5,000 to $500.
What has stayed is the number of new piers, the number of new buoys, 1,862, the cost to permit a pier, $100,000, a boat sticker program, and an item banning further development in a large portion of Tahoe’s publicly owned lakeshore.