TRPA makes move to streamline process
Pete Wysocki is an experiment.
An experienced Douglas County planner, Wysocki has been working out of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s office for the past two months, focusing specifically on county projects. The idea behind his presence there is that he would be able to help get Douglas projects processed and approved quicker. Reducing the backlog of Douglas projects would allow TRPA staff to focus more on other Lake Tahoe projects, helping all builders in the basin gain approval quicker.
Neither South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County nor any other government agency in the basin has made a similar agreement with TRPA.
If Wysocki’s presence at TRPA is a success, however, supporters hope other jurisdictions will follow suit, further expediting the process for all of the basin.
So, how is it going?
“Things are going fairly well. I hope so, obviously. I’ve had positive comments from the public, from residents and their representatives,” Wysocki said. “So far the comments have been positive, but it’s kind of hard to judge yet. It’s only been about two months.”
From TRPA’s perspective, however, Wysocki’s presence is “extremely beneficial.”
“It’s a tremendous improvement. I wish I had more help like this from other jurisdictions,” said TRPA senior planner Lyn Barnett. “I just can’t say enough about this (agreement). It’s working out really well.”
Gary Midkiff of Midkiff and Associates, a consulting firm frequently working with TRPA, said Wysocki’s presence has helped.
“We’re real pleased to have that position there at TRPA,” he said. “It’s making a difference in terms of our ability to get information, to deal with staff, and it is rapidly improving the turnaround time on projects.”
Paul Kaleta of Basin Strategies, another consulting agency frequently working with TRPA, said Wysocki is able to respond to Douglas and TRPA issues simultaneously, thus moving projects along quicker.
“(Wysocki’s presence) is really useful in that respect,” Kaleta said. “He’s clearly helping us.”
TRPA is implementing a Permit Integration Program that is supposed to streamline all of the permitting processes in the basin. It should allow TRPA staff – as well as other government members – to spend more time on environmental improvement projects.
TRPA saw the Douglas County planner housed in its offices as another good step in the streamlining process. However, Douglas County earlier this year only reluctantly – by a vote of 3-2 – agreed to allow that to happen.
This week, the commission will hear an update on how the project is going. While Wysocki already is at TRPA, the board will be asked to pass a formal agreement about supervision, funding and management of the shared position. Because of their reluctance, Douglas board members said they would review the situation after six months. If Wysocki’s presence isn’t helping then, they likely will scrap the plan. That review probably will come in October.
Don Miner, a Douglas County commissioner and member of TRPA’s governing board, said basin residents often feel alienated by TRPA because of the slow-moving permitting process. He said this is a good step in improving the relationship between TRPA and the public.
“It’s early in the process, but it’s going well,” Miner said. “There is a cross-education going on there. I think there’s some real benefits to the people of Douglas County and around the lake.”
County Commissioner Bernie Curtis, who originally voted against the proposal, said he was still skeptical about whether Wysocki’s presence is be able to move Douglas projects through TRPA’s system quicker. He said he was looking forward to Thursday’s update.
What: Douglas County Commission meeting
When: Thursday, 1:30 p.m.
Where: Douglas County Administration Building, 175 U.S. Highway 50, Stateline
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