TRPA discusses state of basin transportation
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Reducing dependency on the private automobile is vital to the ecological health of the Lake Tahoe Basin, said officials from a local environmental oversight agency.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency governing board convened Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the transportation milestone of the Regional Plan Update.
Creating a more comprehensive lake-wide trail system for cyclists and pedestrians, maintaining those trails, integrating water-borne transportation systems and parking management headlined the transportation discussion.
The transportation milestone is one of the two main pillars of the Regional Plan Update, said Joanne Marchetta, TRPA executive director. The other pillar is land use, Marchetta said.
Zoning and transportation must work in concert, said Carl Hasty, District Manager of the Tahoe Transportation District – who presented a report on the state of transportation in the basin to the governing board. If the TRPA encourages condensed urban cores, where people are able to walk, bicycle and establish a critical mass for public transit use through its land use policies, then a reduction of private automobile and the resulting pollution could follow.
“The TRPA can facilitate the investment in increased public transportation by forming land use policies that encourage condensed urban areas which feature connected trails for bikes and pedestrians,” Hasty said.
However, Hasty acknowledged that commuting within basin communities was not as much of a problem as getting from one community to another.
“No regional public transit system currently exists,” Hasty said.
Harmon Zuckerman, Director of the Regional Plan Update, said he wants to see a detailed environmental analysis of the potential impacts of lake-wide waterborne transportation before fully endorsing future projects.
“The argument against waterborne transit is that – even with today’s best available technology – it is more polluting than private of public land transportation,” according to a document Zuckerman wrote. “However, the relative amount of pollution produced on a per-mile basis by boats versus cars and buses is not the whole story. Boats can be used to proved a direct, north-south transit link across the length of Lake Tahoe. No other mode of transportation can bypass existing roadway traffic so effectively.”
As part of the Regional Plan Update process, the TRPA staff submits proposals to a rigorous environmental analysis. Staff and governing board members will await the analysis pertaining to waterborne transportation before proceeding with a full recommendation.
TRPA had scheduled discussion and adoption of an ethics policy and a lengthy presentation given by Marchetta regarding the strategic alignment for Thursday. However, the discussion is delayed until next month.
TRPA laid off five employees June 10 as part of one of the more significant staff reorganizations in the agency’s more than 40-year history.
All of the positions were eliminated as part of a strategic plan to help the agency streamline, achieve its environmental goals, increase operational efficiency and better serve the public, said Julie Regan, TRPA spokeswoman.
Marchetta was scheduled to explain this strategic plan on Thursday during the meeting, but the presentation was tabled until the July meeting due to the amount of time the board took to discuss the transportation and land use milestone of the Regional Plan Update.
Much of the board’s discussion time over the two days was spent haggling over process, attempting to delineate policy from implementation and refine semantic language in the code amendments.
The ethics policy was also tabled until the July meeting.
Tahoe Daily Tribune reporter Adam Jensen contributed content to this report.