TTD Board takes legal advice on 64-Acre issue
TAHOE CITY – Despite a couple of potential “showstoppers,” there are no reasons why the Tahoe Transportation District can not become the lead agency for the 64 Acres project in Tahoe City, TTD’s legal counsel advised the board of directors Friday.
While threats of litigation and possible loss of funds should be considered before a decision is made, TTD attorney Dennis Crabb said, “I don’t see these as impossible to work with.”
His advice came three weeks after the TTD board asked staff to examine the practicality of taking over the 64-Acre Tract Intermodal Transit Center project from Placer County, where the Board of Supervisors delayed action in the face of public opposition.
Crabb told board members that though Placer County was agreeable to handing over the 64-Acre project to the TTD, it wanted the Transportation District to tread cautiously and consult with project opponents.
The project calls for a bus station, parking lot and restrooms to be built on approximately 3 acres of U.S. Forest Service land, part of the 64 Acres parcel near the intersection of Highways 89 and 28. Supporters say it would ease congestion in the area and improve air and water quality. Critics, however, object to the loss of natural lands and say a bus stop in the heart of the city would lead to more congestion.
The TTD, which operates under the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, is enjoined by its charter to reduce public dependency on automobiles and to reduce air pollution in the Tahoe Basin. These directives, and the inability of Placer County to push through the project, has prompted TTD to consider taking over the lead role for 64 Acres.
“We need to lengthen our stride when it comes to transportation,” Juan Palma, executive director of TRPA, told the TTD board.
Politics aside, Crabb said switching lead agencies could result in the loss of more than $1.7 million in federal grant funds, which will lapse if not utilized by the end of the 2002 building season. Also, any attempt to transfer the funds directly from Placer County to TTD will result in the grant being lost because it’s so old, Crabb was told in a recent meeting with the Federal Transit Administration in San Francisco.
However, a transfer could be possible if TTD becomes a subgrantee of Placer County. TTD would be required to take title and become operationally responsible for the project.
“The board needs to understand that finances need to be secured” before it takes such responsibility, Crabb said.
Becoming the lead agency could also open the TTD and TRPA to litigation if it pursues the project despite local opposition. Apart from the legal input, the TTD board is also waiting for a staff report on policy and procedural issues. No decision is expected before December, said Richard Wiggins, head of the TTD.
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