The governing board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has voted to approve the new Regional Plan for the Lake Tahoe basin.
Business interests contend the plan represents a long-overdue overhaul of burdensome regulations that will jump-start Tahoe's ailing tourism economy while also protecting its environment.
The Sierra Club maintains it's a "radical plan" that will forever change Tahoe by allowing overly dense, taller urban development while the Nevada Conservation League views the plan as a compromise.
TRPA released this information on Wednesday night:
A clear path forward for the continued restoration of Lake Tahoe was enacted today as the Governing Board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) approved and adopted the Lake Tahoe Regional Plan Update and Regional Transportation Plan Update, called Mobility 2035, in 12-1 votes with one Board member abstaining.
A regional plan that achieves environmental standards while allowing orderly growth and development in the Region is required by the Bi-State Compact, signed by California and Nevada, which created TRPA more than 40 years ago. Updates to the Lake Tahoe Regional Plan, often a source of controversy as well as inspiration for resource protection, was hailed by state leaders as historic and indicative of the shared commitment the two states have to Lake Tahoe's restoration.
The closing vote was met with applause from the gallery of attendees in the convention center of Harvey's Resort in Stateline, NV, many of whom have helped shape and shepherd the Plan Update through an exhaustive public process, according to TRPA.
"Today's approval starts the next environmental leap forward for Lake Tahoe," TRPA Executive Director Joanne S. Marchetta said. "An unprecedented public participation process has created a plan that raises the level of stewardship of this national treasure and TRPA is grateful to the thousands of people who helped shape it."
Updates to the Lake Tahoe Regional Plan, originally adopted in 1987, aim to accelerate attainment of extraordinary environmental goals in part by improving the regulatory framework in the Region, according to the Agency. Priority updates include:
Accelerating water quality restoration and other ecological benefits by supporting environmental redevelopment opportunities and Environmental Improvement Program investments.
Integrating regional and local regulations into coordinated area plans.
Simplifying and streamlining the permit review process to encourage updates to older buildings.
"Ultimately, what happens on the land affects the waters of Lake Tahoe," Marchetta said. "Most visitors are stunned by the beauty of Lake Tahoe, but disappointed by our aging town centers and lack of connectivity in transportation and trails. To further restoration efforts, we need to open opportunities for property owners to invest in measures that reduce pollution and help restore the Lake's world-famous clarity."
The Regional Plan Update received supported today by state leaders who were instrumental in bringing stakeholder groups together earlier this year in a bi-state consultation group.
"This is an historic plan," Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Director Leo Drozdoff told the Board. "For the first time in over two decades there is common ground and we have forged relations between the two states, the environmental community, business groups and local governments. We know this is just a starting point, but Nevada stands ready to continue the work we have done to create a strong and vibrant bi-state framework. You can rely on us to be here in the long term as a resource as we continue to find common ground."
Deputy Secretary of External Affairs for the California Natural Resources Agency Todd Ferrara echoed support for the updates.
"California shares its strong support for the regional plan and the bi-state process," Ferrara said. "It hasn't been easy. There has been compromise as well as consensus, but many things that are hard or challenging bear fruit. We are pleased to be here today as part of this important milestone for Lake Tahoe."
Support was also voiced by the U.S. Forest Service, which manages nearly 80 percent of the land in the Tahoe Basin.
"The updated Regional Plan, along with our revised Forest Plan will forward environmental restoration and achievement of shared goals for the region," Supervisor for the USFS Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Nancy Gibson told the Board. "The Forest Service recognizes that community sustainability is important for this basin. TRPA's plans become a template for other areas of the country and will benefit generations of people for years to come."
Most updates and amendments approved today are expected to take effect 60 days after approval, while a limited number of amendments require further state action to take effect. More information on what rules have changed and how they affect project permitting will be available at www.trpa.org in the coming weeks.
Darcie Goodman Collins, PhD, Executive Director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe released this statement:
"The League has played an active and positive role in the Regional Plan Update process over the past months. We feel that maintaining the compact and keeping a unified agency are the most important factors to protecting the lake. Concessions have been made and a collaborative process has resulted in this plan. Some of the concessions we made were painful. The RPU allows for more development close to the lake than we would normally support. We have shown good faith in actively participating in this process and making compromises. We expect that Nevada's leadership will also work in good faith and support this effort by repealing SB271 in this legislative session, as recently stated by Secretary of State and Governing Board member Ross Miller. Finalizing and supporting this plan provides certainty for policy makers and businesses alike so that we can all move forward with the important jobs of revitalizing our communities and restoring and protecting Lake Tahoe."
The Nevada Conservation League also released a statement of its own:
The Nevada Conservation League has been directly involved in updating the Regional Plan for the last 18 months. As NCL's Policy Director, I was a part of the bi-state consultation process that negotiated the thorniest issues of the new plan. This was a consensus-driven process, initiated by staff for Governors Sandoval and Brown. Many compromises were made over the course of the negotiations.
To be clear, the plan is not perfect. The new Regional Plan allows for increased development, and there is a weak link between measured environmental improvements and increased development rights. However, among other victories, we were able to maintain important protections, and to create an appeals process. With all its imperfections, the collaboration to create this plan is critical to keeping the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact. And let's be clear on this also: preservation of the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact is essential to protect Lake Tahoe.
Approval of this plan is an important first step toward Nevada's commitment to the protection of Lake Tahoe. But it is by no means the most important. Nevada's political leaders chose to put the future of the lake at risk by passing SB 271 in the 2011 legislative session. We are happy that stakeholders in the basin have come together to pass a new Regional Plan, and we are proud to have been a part of that process. However, until Nevada repeals this legislation, the lake will face an uncertain future. Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, a TRPA board member recognizes this. Even the original bill sponsor, former Senator John Lee, has stated that Nevada should remain in the compact.
The time has come for Governor Sandoval and legislative leadership to re-dedicate Nevada to the protection of Lake Tahoe. The Nevada Conservation League will be working this legislative session to repeal SB 271. We will keep you updated on this issue as we continue to fight for the future of Lake Tahoe.
Kyle Davis Policy Director Nevada Conservation League