‘Y’ projects remain in pipeline for community enhancement | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Y’ projects remain in pipeline for community enhancement

All nine proposals, including two at the “Y,” will continue toward inclusion in the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Community Enhancement Program, the agency’s Governing Board decided Wednesday.

The CEP is designed to encourage the development of projects especially beneficial to the environment through the issuing of certain development rights.

On Wednesday, the Governing Board followed a TRPA staff recommendation to reserve the rights, including commercial floor area and tourist accommodation units, for each of nine proposals, considered “preapplicants” by the agency.

The rights come from a special projects pool used for projects with the potential to make “big gains” toward achieving TRPA thresholds, according to agency legal counsel Joanne Marchetta.

“What this set-aside does is allow the applicants to plan on using that set-aside,” Marchetta said. “It’s no guarantee that at the end of the day that these projects will be approved.”

At least one South Shore resident sees the CEP as a way to improve an area of town long in need of an upgrade.

“If this CEP doesn’t get approved, all is lost,” said Steve Leman, the founder of the recently formed Gateway Neighbors Alliance, a group of business and land owners at the “Y” looking to get the various plans for the area implemented. “If we don’t collaborate to get this, it’s all going to the North Shore,” Leman added.

Leman listed sidewalks, street lights and landscaping as some of the improvements he would like to see at the “Y.”

Projects at the former Mikasa building and the Raley’s Shopping Center currently are considered preapplicants to the CEP.

Concepts for the former Mikasa site include a public plaza with a mix of retail and office space. Apartments could be constructed above the businesses, and a large outdoor movie screen was included in a TRPA presentation Wednesday.

A proposal for a redevelopment of the Raley’s shopping center includes a mix of employee, moderate-income and market-rate housing; and a “refacing” of the shopping center.

Both projects include improved pedestrian and bike paths, better bus shelters and measures to improve Lake Tahoe’s water quality.

The “big gains” TRPA officials hope to achieve through the CEP have yet to be defined sufficiently for the reservation of commodities, according to basin environmental groups.

“We are concerned the CEP does not go far enough to define substantial environmental benefits,” said Sarah Curtis with the League to Save Lake Tahoe.

TRPA staff, as well as board members, made assurances the proposals are in their initial stages and further review will be required before final decisions are made on the projects eventually included in the CEP.

“I think everyone needs to understand this is a baby step in a very long process,” said Norma Santiago, an El Dorado County supervisor who sits on the governing board.

Governing Board members unanimously approved a plan to almost double the storage space at South Tahoe Refuse’s Materials Recovery Facility.

The expansion will provide the necessary space to process organic materials, such as construction waste and yard clippings.

The increase was necessary to allow the waste disposal company to come into compliance with a California bill passed in 1989 requiring counties to divert 50 percent of their waste from landfills by 2000, according to a TRPA staff report.

Under its current capacity, the facility is able to divert 40 percent to 45 percent of the waste it receives from landfills, according to Jeff Tillman, president of South Tahoe Refuse Co.

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