TRPA: Douglas commissioners back bill for Nevada to withdraw
Tribune News Service
MINDEN, Nev. – With Tahoe Regional Planning Agency representative Nancy McDermid endorsing the move, Douglas County commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to support a bill that would withdraw Nevada from the bistate organization.
“I believe the compact was a noble effort on the part of Laxalt and Reagan,” said McDermid. “It’s become regulatory and punitive.”
Former governors Paul Laxalt of Nevada and Ronald Reagan of California formed the agency in 1969 to preserve Lake Tahoe as a natural resource.
Sen. John Lee, D-Las Vegas, has proposed Senate Bill 271 to pull Nevada out of the group, saying TRPA has become over-regulatory in favor of environmental special interests.
Duties for the Tahoe Basin on the Nevada side would shift to the Nevada Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, based in Carson City.
McDermid, who has represented Douglas County on TRPA for several years, said she believes the Nevada members represent the state.
“The California appointees are clearly on the side of – if you will – seeing very little happen in the (Tahoe) Basin,” McDermid said.
She said when the agency approves a project, it’s subject to lengthy court battles and ultimate denials.
“It’s been kind of a hijack of a good idea of a system,” she said.
McDermid cited the Tahoe Transportation District and stateline-to-stateline bike project as successful endeavors from TRPA.
“I think we (Douglas County) can handle the permitting,” she said. “We have no memo of understanding with TRPA. We do that on our own.”
Commission chairman Mike Olson said he had talked with several people who agreed that a goal was “to see things happen at Stateline.”
“The (TRPA) board is dominated by Californians who don’t care economically what happens on our side,” Olson said.
Gardnerville resident Ed Kleiner spoke in support of the agency.
As owner of a seed company, Kleiner said he has worked for more than 20 years with multiple agencies, including TRPA, in both states, and five counties on restoration projects.
“All of these entities are doing phenomenal work at Tahoe to heal the watershed whether it be riparian restoration, curb and gutter, retention basins or revegetation on utility corridors, ski runs, roadsides and backyards or teaching BMPs (best management practices) to contractors and homeowners,” Kleiner said.
He said despite TRPA’s efforts to hold sediments and nutrients in the watershed instead of draining into the lake, the basin is still fragile.
“All these efforts combined scream for a watershed-based political jurisdiction, and due to the very nature of the fragile ecosystem in the Tahoe Basin, these concerns must trump other agendas,” Kleiner said.
He said Lee’s bill does not work for the common good or the Lake Tahoe watershed, suggesting the TRPA be “fine-tuned, not dismantled.”
Carson City supervisors decided Thursday to remain neutral on the bill.