TRPA seems to have conflict of interest with events center (Opinion) |

TRPA seems to have conflict of interest with events center (Opinion)

Scott Ramirez
Guest column

On Wednesday, Jan. 22, TRPA staff presented their report on the proposed Douglas County Events Center.

The review of the proposal included the perceived benefits and remaining issues for the events center. On a good note, it is expected to target less busy times to bring visitors and guests to Stateline and not hit the busier summer months.

This is achieved by limiting the number of allowable participants to no more than 2,500 between mid-June and Labor Day. The center is designed to support up to 6,000 and is hoped to fill the midweek times in fall, winter and spring.

The issues remaining were also highlighted: Potential intrusion into the water table during construction and the very real likelihood that the allowable Vehicle Miles Traveled might be exceeded.

If those VMT levels are exceeded, the facility will need to reduce the number of events or number of participants. The TRPA and the Tahoe Transportation District are relying on both the requirement of paid parking and the availability of a yet to be seen micro-transit system to meet the VMT requirements established by the TRPA.

It is assumed people will park in local casino parking lots and pay $20 a day or take transit that does not currently exist.

The VMT problem is not the only problem that goes directly against TRPA’s established goals and requirements. The building itself requires the TRPA to write exceptions to their normal building practices as it would not otherwise be allowed.

To allow this project at all, the regular rules were amended, at the end of the same meeting that highlighted these issues (see exhibit 1 in the planning documents for details – “Within a designated SMPZ [Stream-Mouth Protection Zone], no new structures are allowed “).

This project brings up many questions for those who will be left to support the facility, the taxpayers of Douglas County.

What happens if the VMT levels are exceeded and if participants do not stay in the local hotels that have seen better days rather than driving in from the many VHRs that are expanding into the area (El Dorado County has become the new focus for VHR expansion given Measure Ts passage)?

If VMT levels are exceeded and the number of events is further limited, how will it pay for itself?

These are the questions the taxpayers in Douglas County should certainly be asking.

Yet again, we see the TRPA, the TTD and the usual suspects of Stateline development who sponsored the “Hole-in-the-Ground,” skating the existing regulations and going against the same rules they themselves wrote and are charged with enforcing.

This $100-plus million project will increase traffic to Stateline despite these same parties saying we need to deal with over tourism and limit VMTs.

This project goes against the usual building regulations that everyone else must follow. This project is exempted by the same people who are writing the rules, enforcing those rules, advocating for this development and seeking funding to see it through.

In my opinion, you could not have a clearer conflict of interest.

The Douglas County taxpayers will be left to pay for this if it does not cover its own costs. Given other event centers that don’t have the same restrictions rarely are profitable, it isn’t hard to imagine who will be left to pay the bill for this latest project.

Douglas County taxpayers should take note as they want to break ground soon.

Scott Ramirez is South Lake Tahoe resident.

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