Glossary of common terms used by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
ALLOCATION — The TRPA issues a set number of allocations each building season. If you own property but don’t have an allocation of development, you do not have the right to build on your property.
APC — Advisory Planning Commission. A commission that reviews projects and other proposed code changes two weeks before the Governing Board hears the issue. Staff of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency listens to the commission’s critique and makes any needed adjustments to their proposals before they are heard at the Governing Board.
BMP — Best Management Practice. Anything that protects lake clarity by preventing erosion. A BMP could be a retaining wall, gravel trench or paved driveway. Or it could be a golf course using the least amount of fertilizer possible to prevent excess chemicals from going into the lake and feeding the growth of algae.
ORDINANCES — Laws that guide environmental policies of the basin. Any policy changes proposed must be reflected in the agency’s code of ordinances.
COMPACT — A bistate Compact signed into law in 1969 created the TRPA. It was approved by Congress and signed by President Richard Nixon.
COVERAGE — The TRPA has specified a certain amount of land in the basin that can be covered by pavement, a building, a deck, a shed. Coverage can be transferred between properties and purchased on the open market.
EIP — Environmental Improvement Program. A $908 million initiative to protect Lake Tahoe. The agreement relies on erosion control work and other environmental protection projects to stop the lake water from clouding. It involves local, state and federal funds.
GOVERNING BOARD — The 15-member board that is appointed by local governments, governors from Nevada and California, and by the president of the United States. The board votes whether to approve or reject projects.
GRADING SEASON — Dates that define when large-scale excavation projects are allowed. The grading season is from May 1 to Oct. 15. Up to 7-cubic-yards can be excavated or moved without a TRPA permit if the digging occurs within the grading season. Digging at the basin without a permit can only happen year-round if the project involves excavation of 3-cubic-yards of dirt or less. The project cannot be part of a series of excavations; must be completed within 48-period; cannot happen when it is raining or there is snow on the ground; and the site needs to stabilized to prevent erosion.
INDICATORS — The TRPA uses 36 indicators to determine how close it is to attaining its nine thresholds. The most recent report said the basin had attained no thresholds and only satisfied seven indicators.
IPES — Individual Parcel Evaluation System. System used to determine how environmentally sensitive a parcel of land is. Steep slopes and streams can make land environmentally sensitive. An IPES score of zero means the land cannot be built on.
PAS — Plan Area Statement. The TRPA has separated Lake Tahoe Basin into 175 areas to determine where commercial, residential, tourist or affordable housing is allowed. For each plan area, a statement lays out how that particular area should be regulated to achieve environmental and land use goals.
REGIONAL PLAN — Adopted in 1987, it set a 20-year path for the TRPA outlining what the agency needs to achieve to satisfy its thresholds. A new plan is needed by 2007. The effort to create a new regional plan, called Pathway 2007, is under way. It will likely involve changing the thresholds or indicators.
SEZ — Stream Environment Zone. Considered the most sensitive land in the Lake Tahoe Basin. In all, 63 streams empty into the lake.
THRESHOLD — The TRPA adopted in 1982 nine thresholds, or environmental goals, it needs to achieve. They are set for air, water, soil conservation, vegetation, fisheries, wildlife, scenic quality, noise and recreation.