Tahoe Transportation District votes to dissolve IV Mobility Hub Committee
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – On October 16, 2023, the Tahoe Transportation District and Tahoe Transportation Committee held a two-hour meeting to discuss several items related to current transit projects in the area. Budget amendments to the 2024 Work Program with a SR-28 state line to state line bikeway project were talked about, as well as a Spooner Mobility Hub Project and the possible purchase of diesel bus replacements.
One of the most contentious items that drew the several public comments was Item VII.A. about the “Incline Village Mobility Hub Project Update and Adjustment of the Public Outreach Process, Including Consideration of Dissolvement of the Incline Village Mobility Hub Committee”.
At the beginning of the meeting, Incline Village resident and Mobility Hub committee member Carole Black encouraged the District to keep the group saying that it hasn’t had access to important data related to the mobility hub site study that would allow the group to give any real input in the process of helping to find a viable site.
“There’s been no extensive broad-based community input, limited data sharing, and limited community outreach,” Black said, explaining that the site selection criteria of a possible mobility hub in Incline Village does not reflect the realities of the Tahoe environment or geography.
Black added that the staff report on where a mobility hub should go is not fully accurate and that confidential site scoring undermined the ability of the committee to help find a solution.
“Perhaps that is why public comment feels repetitive – legitimate concerns are raised, yet folks are not seeing credible consideration or inclusion of their input,” Black wrote in before speaking at the October 16 meeting.
After Black spoke, another Incline Village resident emphasized the need to keep the group.
“I’m asking you to not dissolve this committee. [It] couldn’t evaluate the contract or even see the survey results. Our HOA was a designated ‘shareholder’, but we were never part of the data sharing. One-hundred-ninety-five-thousand dollars has been spent and there were so many goals that were not addressed. The committee had no authority they were promised or the information to be effective. Was this HDR dropping the ball or a lack of communication from the Transportation District?” she inquired.
According to the Board Memo attached to the TTD October 16, 2023, agenda, roughly $125,000 was spent of the $200,000 contract awarded to HDR. The TTD awarded the contract to HDR, Inc. on October 5, 2022, for “third-party assistance to identify potential mobility hub sites, perform the site screening and analysis, and preferred site concepts for the project,” the Memo says.
Five written public comments were sent in, all from Incline Village residents who strongly opposed a mobility hub that was originally proposed to be built at the old Incline Elementary School.
When the board addressed Item VII.A. in the meeting, TTD Capital Program Manager Jim Marino said that there were nine sites they looked at, including the former elementary school. Assessing issues like feasibility, reasonableness, multi-modal opportunities, social equity, environmental impact, noise, and other factors, HDR found 3-4 sites that meets its criteria for a mobility hub, identified as the old Incline
Elementary School, Ponderosa/Duffield property, the UNR campus, and/or the sheriff substation. Marino said that there were 12 public meetings held and HDR had one public workshop (the TTD website shows that only eight IVMC meetings occurred between October 2022 and July 2023 and two were cancelled).
“Understandably, Incline Village is very concerned. Committees sit in the background; they hear, they speak, they listen. We’re accepting those comments, we’re not ignoring them. But our target audience would not be the users for the transit program, so we’re switching gears with a new proposed outreach plan.
“We’ve given the consultants a timeline of June 2024 for work done on the new public outreach approach- increase social media outreach, engage seniors/low income transit users, engage businesses who depend on workforce that uses the transit, develop site plans and give the public a visual of what’s to come,” Marino said.
In the Board discussion, Marino did not think that HDR’s contract would be adjusted to reflect this new civic engagement direction.
“We have come to a point where the ability to move forward in this process is stymied, so I support the dissolvement of the committee,” said TTD Board Member Andy Chapman.
TTD Chairperson and Washoe County Commissioner Alexis Hill also supported dissolving the committee, saying that she has an issue with people speaking at public meetings and the board members speaking- hence people talking at each other and having no real dialogue with the community.
“There are 3-4 vans that have nowhere to park right now,” Hill said, assuming that she was referring to the TART Connect shuttles that service Incline Village (a different transit service from the Tahoe Transportation District that is based in South Shore). “I was supportive of Mr. Davis [TTD Board Member] on the clause that made the community so upset and was looking at the grant restrictions,” she added.
Marino added that the FTA (Federal Transit Administration) requires site analysis on any site in the community that meets certain standards, and said, “We can’t just drop the OES site unless we can determine that it isn’t feasible. The public hearings are not going away on this issue.”
Next Steps and An Issue With Public Trust
Hill asked, “Is the milestone at this point the four sites and models of what those sites would look like?”
Chapman said that the TTD has until June 2024 on the planning grant with the goal being to identify the parcels sufficient for a hub. Going back to the topic of dissolving the committee, he said, “There was no communication like this for the Spooner parking lot or the Highway 89 one, so [forming a committee for this project] has been an odd diversion. This is a board decision.”
In public comment, Incline Village General Improvement District Trustee Sara Schmitz said, “I urge you not to disband this committee. We deserve to have representation”.
According to the Board Memo, the mobility hub committee (IVMC) held 12 public meetings and HDR/TTD staff had one public workshop to date. Around 20 people attended the Spring 2023 workshop, heavily protesting a mobility hub being built at the old Incline Elementary School site.
After the workshop (as reported by the Tahoe Tribune), HDR and TTD staff said that they would spend the summer of 2023 creating a draft of the mobility hub plan, hold a second public workshop, and present a final plan. Instead, it seems that the TTD hired Public Information Officer Tiara Wasner this past July, the scheduled Oct. 31 Incline Village Mobility Hub Public Information Open House has been cancelled, and following the Oct. 16 meeting, Wasner said that next conversations about the Incline Village mobility hub are TBD.
Throughout the discussion, Board Member Cody Bass (who also serves on the City of South Lake Tahoe council) brought up the need for better communication.
“There’s a great deal of need for more outreach. Can we have these [IVMC] meetings more than monthly? I’m concerned that disbanding the committee will further affect public input and transparency. There’s already an issue with public trust. I request one more meeting on the mobility hub.”
Another board member said, “I’m so frustrated with the process because it feels like we are covering the same ground.”
“For public trust and perception, I think we should keep the committee together for one more meeting,” Bass said.
Another person said, “Do you think having another committee meeting is going to come and save this board? I think you are mistaken.”
Chapman made a motion to dissolve the committee, Hill seconded it, and it was voted to be dissolved in a 10-2 vote (with Bass and Board Member/El Dorado County Supervisor Brooke Laine voting against the motion).
Hill could not be reached for comment following the meeting. As of October 18, 2023, there was nothing on the Incline Village Mobility Hub website (inclinevillagemobilityhub.org) about the IVMC or any mention of the contract with HDR, Inc. However, Hill directed my request to TTD PIO Tiara Wasner, who said that the most recent information about the Incline Village Mobility Hub issue can be found on the Tahoe Transportation District website (www.tahoetransportation.org/).
The people who sat on the now-disbanded IVMC committee were TTD Chair Alexis Hill, Andy Chapman, Cindy Gustafson, Carole Black, John Crockett, and Wendy Hummer. Committee members were notified before Oct. 4 about the Oct. 16 agenda item to dissolve the group.
TTD board member and El Dorado County Supervisor Brooke Laine added, “We worked for years on the Highway 50 realignment project and found that they weren’t taking public comment and integrating it into the plan. I’ve seen that when there is controversy and the community feels they are being cut out of the process, they will dig their heels in.”
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