Wanted: citizens with ideas for improvement
Next time you drive through South Lake Tahoe, take a long look. If you see improvements needed, the city wants to know what you think and how things could change.
The city is forming a committee of 15 to 20 citizens who want to have a hand in the future of this town – 20 years in particular. This committee will contribute to the creation of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s regional plan referred to as Pathway 2007. The bistate regulatory agency will have a direct effect on the making of the city’s general plan, which was last adopted as the blueprint for planning here in 1999.
“This is an opportunity to take a long view of the community,” City Councilman John Upton said. “We’re at a juncture in our community.”
Key issues dominate headlines and conversation – affordable housing, lake clarity, best management practices and land coverage. The last item has served as “a deterrent to investment in our community,” Upton pointed out.
TRPA’s coverage rules have been a sticking point to the one incorporated city in the basin. The agency requires no more than 30 percent of property to be covered under most circumstances.
The coverage rules are either ignored or residents hoping to expand their family’s space are forced to build up when they remodel, creating strange designs such as kitchens and bathrooms installed upstairs. Those are the two most common areas of the house for remodeling jobs.
“Unfortunately, we’ve turned everything on its head,” Upton said, using a mushroom as an example of a top-heavy design.
Best management practices, known as BMPs, may need rule modifications as well, Upton suggested of the landscaping and construction guidelines aimed at reducing soil erosion. Thousands of parcels still need to meet the mandate.
“Our focus so far has been what to do with individual lots. We should be talking about what neighborhoods can accomplish,” he said.
Case in point, Harrison Avenue commercial property owners have been discussing a joint effort to conduct their BMPs. The street is a starting-block example of how far improvements can go. Many believe the neighborhood needs drainage, curbs and gutters, landscaping and a bike path.
And BMP inspection is quite another matter. Upton recommends that instead of waiting for calls from property owners, letters should be sent to them instead.
Apparently, Upton is not alone in the criticism.
City Manager Dave Jinkens called the rules “ridiculous” and assured there’s a better way.
“We need to have these rules make sense,” he said.
Jinkens described a new age of empowerment for city residents that they can take part in. Plus, the city just kicked in $50,000 to the process to pay for a TRPA consultant that will formulate all the input.
“We haven’t been used to doing a citywide plan because we thought we didn’t have the power before,” he said.
So here’s your chance to speak- public citizen.
The city is seeking someone who is an out-of-the-box thinker, open-minded, can articulate a personal vision for the town, has the ability to learn and listen as well as the time commitment.
The city’s Community General Plan Advisory Committee will require applicants be available to attend three evening public workshops during the next six months and nine to 12 half-day meetings over the next eight months to a year.
The City Council plans to choose from its pool of candidates during its March 7 meeting. The committee’s first orientation meeting is scheduled March 9 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Applications can be picked up and are due to the City Clerk’s office on 1052 Tata Lane by March 1 by 4 p.m.
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