Tell before you sell |

Tell before you sell

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune
Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily TribuneBrian Fletcher, a conservation assistant with the Backyard Conservation Program, prepares to set a run-off system by a house in Gardner Mountain.

Psst. My BMPs aren’t done yet. I had to let you know, but I still want to sell my house.

Disclosure of required environmental improvements, or Best Management Practices, yet to be installed at a properties at Lake Tahoe Basin would be a must for people selling property at Lake Tahoe Basin if a proposed policy is adopted by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

The policy, recommended for approval on Wednesday by the Advisory Planning Commission, a decision-making branch of the TRPA, is part of an effort to get more Best Management Practices on the ground and prevent sediment from reaching Lake Tahoe.

A BMP could mean paving a dirt driveway, additional planting or putting gravel-filled trenches around the dripline of a home. Deadlines for BMP installation vary depending on the environmental classification of the property.

The BMP disclosure policy came as one of many recommendations in the 2001 Threshold Evaluation, a report issued by the TRPA every five years to gauge its progress in attaining environmental goals. Whether the policy is adopted will be determined by a vote from the TRPA Governing Board on July 24 at Kings Beach.

Also Wednesday, the APC recommended approval of a change in its rules that would require a fence to be erected 12 feet from the footprint of a building, except on the side of a project that faces the street, to protect soil and vegetation outside of a construction area. The change would also obligate contractors to protect trees inside a construction zone with fencing around their driplines.

After about three hours of contentious public comment from homeowners and real estate officials, the APC requested more work be done on two crucial policy changes recommended by the Threshold Evaluation.

The first, a revision of the way TRPA staff evaluates the scenic impact of a lakeshore home, drew the most comment.

“Imagine before you the 1,700 people I represent,” Jan Brisco, executive director of the Tahoe Lakefront Owners’ Association, the second of about 10 people who spoke. “We have serious concerns about the proposal before you today.”

The proposal would create a numeric system, rather than the slow-going qualitative system in use now, to calculate the scenic impact of a construction project. It would require existing homeowners who want to add decks or make another changes to their houses to address a certain percentage of scenic issues determined by the agency before the project gets the go-ahead.

“I disagree that the Lake Tahoe visual is degrading,” said Nate Topol, a Homewood property owner. “I think the TRPA deserves some complimenting for enforcing ordinances, the lake has improved, but this part of the proposal I would call Draconian. There are a tremendous amount of holes. We would really be injured by this ordinance.”

A policy that would reduce the base number of building permits issued from 300 to 150 a year, tying additional permits more closely to environmental projects, was rejected by APC board members, several of whom work for planning departments of the five counties who would be affected by the change.

“If this proposal was for the 2007 Regional Plan I could accept it,” said Larry Lohman, principal planner at El Dorado County. “I cannot support this plan. There are too many variables here. We would lose about one-third of our allocations with the system proposed today.”

“We’re trying to craft something here that provides a balance,” said Carl Hasty, deputy director at the TRPA. “If you guys have got a better system we’re all ears.”

Both proposals will be revisited at the APC meeting next month after TRPA staff has had time to analyze some of the questions asked Wednesday. The Governing Board will be allowed to vote on the proposals when they hear them July 24 but will not likely vote on them.

“We can still bring an issue to Governing Board for discussion and possible action without an APC recommendation,” said Pam Drum, TRPA spokeswoman, “but it’s certainly not an ideal situation.”

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

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