It is time to return to the principles that created the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) has lost sight of their primary mission. While Rule #1 is “do no harm to the environment,” the proposed RPU promises devastating environmental impacts. Wall Street financed development corporations have collaborated with willing local governments and agencies to exploit the so called economic “opportunities” of resort development in the Lake Tahoe Basin. TRPA is now proposing to delegate authority to local jurisdictions, one which recently was pushing a 3MW biomass plant in the North shore town of Kings Beach. Widespread opposition from locals finally pressured the TRPA to nix this nonsense, but the lesson was clear. The local jurisdictions have over-reached their influence as TRPA Board members and taken the agency too far from its original purpose.
The compact’s language characterizes the Tahoe Basin as having “unique environmental and ecological values which are irreplaceable.” And, it specifies “increasing urbanization” as the threat to those values. The compact empowers TRPA to establish “environmental thresholds carrying capacities” (thresholds) to protect the Basin and to adopt a regional plan that will “achieve and maintain such capacities while providing orderly growth and development consistent with such capacities.” Mega-resort developments, Boulder Bay (in Crystal Bay on the North shore) and Homewood Mountain Resort (West shore) were both recently approved by the TRPA. These projects are $250 million to $500 million projects. They are not the only way to redevelop the very sensitive Lake Tahoe Basin.
“Greenwashing” its activities with the term “smart growth,” the TRPA now promotes the intensification of development, complete with taller and more densely packed buildings. The doubling of densities is not to replace urban sprawl for year round residents, it is to promote tourists and visitors in high-end fractional condos. The TRPA has forgotten that the compact does not charge them with stimulating economic growth but rather “orderly” development consistent with achievement of the thresholds. Its RPU, while a short-term bonanza for resort developers, is a disaster for the lake and the long term economic health of the region.
Lake Tahoe is a Congressionally designated Outstanding National Resource Water (ONRW) under the 1972 Clean Water Act, and both California and Nevada approved this designation. The Tier 3 classification for protection mandates a “no degradation” status to the water quality. This has been essentially ignored by the TRPA, as urban pipes continue to dump contaminated storm water into the Lake. See the Tahoe PipeClub videos below.
With roughly half of the Thresholds are already out of attainment, the RPU will make it worse:
- Air: Increased traffic accompanies growth, despite “greenwashing” the issue with bicycles.
- Local governmental authority over large projects: Abdicating it primary responsibility, TRPA’s RPU shifts control to the local governments in the Basin, reestablishing the growth conditions that necessitated the compact in the 60s. Currently limited to projects less than 15,000 sq. ft. for mixed use (commercial and residential), local governments will soon enjoy approval authority over 90,000 sq.ft. mixed-use projects in Town Centers such as Tahoe City and Kings Beach. Seeking tax revenues, counties will build and build if allowed.
- Noise: Often forgotten as a threshold, any sense of alpine serenity is affected by urbanization.
- Local Community Character: Clearly threatened by the RPU, is this the Tahoe you want?
The Current RPU Must Not Be Approved. Call to Action!