By Adam Jensen
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The Nevada side of the Lake Tahoe Basin could break away from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency under a bill proposed by two Nevada senators.
Senate Bill 271 would withdrawal Nevada from the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact, which created the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency when it was ratified by California and Nevada in 1969.
A withdrawal of either state from the compact would place environmental and land use decisions in the eastern half of the Lake Tahoe Basin in the hands of the Nevada Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, according to the bill.
The legislation was introduced by Sens. John Jay Lee, D-North Las Vegas, and James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, and is co-sponsored by Reps. Pat Hickey, R- Reno, Randy Kirner, R-Reno, and Kelly Kite R-Minden.
Lee and Settelmeyer did not return requests for comment Tuesday. TRPA Executive Director Joanne Marchetta said such legislation has faced uphill battles in the past.
“Several similar bills have been introduced in the Nevada Legislature over the last 25 years and the path forward for the legislation is very challenging,” Marchetta wrote in an e-mail. “We hope to use this occasion to further educate the bill’s sponsors about the progress TRPA has made in recent years to be an effective, transparent organization with strong community engagement.”
Under the bill, the governing board of the NTRPA would consist of seven members. The members would include representatives of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, Washoe County Board of Commissioners, Carson City Board of Supervisors, Nevada governor, lieutenant governor, state forester-fire warden and administrator of the Division of State Lands.
An agency called the Nevada Tahoe Regional Planning Agency already exists, but its scope is limited to administering the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Compact in relation to gaming. The existing NTRPA governing board consists of the Nevada representatives of the TRPA governing board.
Under the bill proposed Friday, three members of the Nevada Senate and three members of the Nevada Assembly would form a committee to oversee the NTRPA, as well as the Marlette Lake Water System.
On Tuesday, South Lake Tahoe City Councilman Bruce Grego said he supports the bill, even though he said it may not go far enough.
“I think it’s a good first step and I’ll support it,” Grego said.
Grego is an outspoken critic of the TRPA, contending the agency’s structure does not provide enough representation to those who are most effected by the planning agency — basin residents.
He has pushed for the creation of a locally elected TRPA governing board since running for a council seat in 2008. Last week, he urged members of the Nevada Legislature to withdrawal funding from the planning agency until its 15-member governing board is locally elected.
The planning agency is slated to receive $2.57 million from Nevada during its 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 fiscal years, subject to legislative approval.
The TRPA’s board has been set up specifically to include more than just local interests, according to the planning agency.
The governing board is composed of a majority of people from outside the basin because these “at-large voters” ensure “that the board reviews issues not only from a local perspective, but also from statewide and nationwide viewpoints,” according to the TRPA’s Website.
The bill has been referred to the Nevada Committee on Government Affairs for review. The committee meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Senate Bill 271 does not yet appear on any of the committee’s meeting agendas.