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Tahoe council backs TRPA split

By
From page A2 | April 21, 2011 |

By Adam Jensen

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Nevada and California should come together and split apart, the South Lake Tahoe City Council decided recently.

The council voted 4-1 to send a letter to the Nevada Legislature in support of a bill that would withdraw the state from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. During the same vote, the council approved the sending of a letter to California legislators encouraging them to take up similar legislation.

Councilman Bruce Grego has been a vocal critic of the land-use planning agency and pushed the council to discuss the Nevada legislation, known as Senate Bill 271.

During the recent council meeting, he said the compact is “undemocratic” and that TRPA has overstepped its mandate to protect Lake Tahoe, using restrictions on house color and drive-through windows as examples.

“We simply can’t effect reasonable change in a reasonable amount of time,” Grego said.

The councilman also said the bill could act as a “stepping stone out of this deadlocked situation.” At the very least, the city’s support of the bill should cause TRPA to take notice, Grego said.

“I think, if we support this bill, we will gain respect from the TRPA if they survive,” Grego said.

Councilwoman Claire Fortier agreed the agency is “significantly flawed,” but said she opposed the letter to Nevada, saying the council’s efforts would be more effective if they were addressed to legislators representing Californians.

Following a suggestion by Fortier, the council also voted to send a letter to California legislators pushing for the introduction of a bill that would withdraw California from the TRPA until the agency’s governing board is changed to include more local representation.

The voting members of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board include six locally elected officials and eight appointees from both Nevada and California.

South Lake Tahoe is the second jurisdiction at Lake Tahoe to signal support for the Nevada senate bill. Douglas County commissioners unanimously supported the bill, while Carson City supervisors have remained neutral.

While the bill would give land-use decision making in the eastern third of the lake to the Nevada Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, who would govern the California side of the Lake Tahoe Basin if Nevada pulls out of the TRPA is unclear.

South Lake Tahoe Mayor Hal Cole warned local jurisdictions could be “totally outnumbered” by appointed board members if TRPA Governing Board decision-making is split between the states. He said he is fed up with the agency, but acknowledged the uncertainty if the bill passes.

“I don’t think anyone in this room knows how this washes out,” Cole said.

In other city council news, the council unanimously approved sending a letter to the League to Save Lake Tahoe Board of Directors asking the environmental group to enter a dialogue with the city and change tactics several council members said they considered have become obstructionist.

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