TRPA inching toward a workable Regional Plan


By Kathryn Reed

KINGS BEACH – More time was spent discussing who should be on the Regional Plan Update Committee than where the plan is.

Considering the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s document dictates what the five counties and one city, along with other landowners can do in the Lake Tahoe Basin and the fact the document was due in 2007, the sense of priorities seemed skewed at Wednesday’s meeting.

What was resolved after everyone seemed to have his or her turn to talk (Governing Board member Nancy McDermid was absent) is the committee would grow by one. South Lake Tahoe’s rep Claire Fortier is now on the Regional Plan Update Committee.

Arlo Stockham on Oct. 26 gives the TRPA Governing Board an update on the Regional Plan. Photo/Kathryn Reed

Arlo Stockham on Oct. 26 gives the TRPA Governing Board an update on the Regional Plan. Photo/Kathryn Reed

While the staff report listed when the twice monthly committee meetings will be, committee Chairman Clem Shute made it clear they are likely to change so to not put them down in ink. The meetings will be on TRPA’s website and they are open to the public.  The next one is Nov. 2 when the committee will likely take action on what staff brought to the board Wednesday – which was for discussion purposes only.

Arlo Stockham, who was brought in last month to breath life into the Regional Plan Update that everyone says will be ready for a vote in December 2012, went over the basics of where things are.

“We need to get out of detailed design issues. We need to spend our limited resources on environmental gain,” Stockham said.

Board member Byron Sher called the removal of all reference to transect zoning “a bombshell”. His colleague Tim Cashman was a bit miffed as well, saying, “I’m a fan of transect.”

To this Stockham said, “It’s a term no one understands. We don’t plan to mandate transect.”

Jennifer Merchant, who works in Placer County’s Tahoe office, voiced her frustration with transect going away because she said her staff has jumped through hoops to accommodate TRPA for years, with about $700,000 spent on developing a plan and transect is the path they were told to pursue.

Shute is concerned about the county going through the process without a Regional Plan Update. Stockham said it would not be a problem.

It turned out to be a big problem for South Lake Tahoe. The League to Save Lake Tahoe is suing the city because its General Plan does not conform to the current TRPA Regional Plan.

Although the word transect is out, it isn’t gone in theory. The plan is to promote smart growth, mixed use vibrant centers. Essentially it’s transect without calling it that. It also allows for more flexibility.

Flexible – that’s the word TRPA is trying to embrace and be associated with.

The talk is local jurisdictions will have a greater say in what is built or rebuilt in their communities. Of course, it still must fit into whatever big picture the Governing Board approves so it won’t ever be a free for all.

Local plans would be adopted to conform to the TPRA Regional Plan.

While the goals are to remove redundancy, increase delegation to local government and create one-stop shops, the details are far from in place. Enforcement is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Already on the books are more than 175 descriptions of land use for each plan area. Ideally, much of that will go away.

Land use classifications will go from five to seven, with wilderness and backcountry being added. Commercial/public service will be called mixed-use. The other existing categories are conservation, recreation, residential and tourist.

While everyone seems to have a hand in the Regional Plan Update, simultaneously the environmental documents are being prepared. The goal is the draft EIS will be out in March.

Executive Director Joanne Marchetta said it is possible to study the five alternatives while the update is under way because it’s been set up to look at the “broadest range of possibilities so we analyze the full range of impacts.”

Also on Wednesday was a workshop with the Governing Board and Advisory Planning Commission to go over the Code of Ordinances. It will be before the Governing Board for adoption in November.

The goal is to make it less cumbersome – so someone might understand it without hiring an attorney. With people understanding what to do, it might mean the consulting business in the basin will be less robust.

But it is not designed to eliminate the need for each property to have a $1,000 site analysis done to document coverage and other TRPA-isms. It’s the requirement of those types of regulations that make deck extensions so expensive and why there are so many illegal ones.

Then there are board members like Sher, who has never lived in the basin, who wants to force homeowners to do their BMPs before they can sell their property. That is a possibility in one of the alternatives being studied.

In other action:

• The board accepted the $35,000 settlement agreement with Tamara Fritz who extended her West Shore pier without a permit and installed a boat lift on the property. She will also have to clean up the vacant lot next door.

• The board resumes its meeting Thursday at 9:30am at Stateline, with the South Tahoe Greenway bike trail on the agenda along with tourist accommodation units at the Nugget.


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Comments (18)
  1. tahoeadvocate says - Posted: October 26, 2011

    Now I know how to spell DISFUNCTIONAL.

  2. Eco Tahoe says - Posted: October 26, 2011

    Government and the non-profits agencies like this one have taken the American Dream and destroyed it.

    Tahoe is a poster child for all that is going wrong in this once great nation.

    Over paid, under performing trash heap of stuffed shirts.

  3. Crying Out Loud says - Posted: October 26, 2011

    Ironically, you don’t know how to spell dYsfunctional.

  4. the conservation robot says - Posted: October 26, 2011

    “Government and the non-profits agencies like this one have taken the American Dream and destroyed it. ”
    Have you been paying attention to the global financial crisis? Banks and Insurance companies.

  5. Clear Water says - Posted: October 26, 2011

    If the TRPA totally disappeared, you see urban improvement in the lake Tahoe area old neighborhoods.

    The Scarecrow’s in the Corn fields needs some new sticks and stones but no one wants to prop up a worn out Scarecrow.

    Let it die, so the New,Old, can live and rebuild their castles with out bird crap on the windshield!!

  6. Eco Tahoe says - Posted: October 27, 2011


    Yes I am aware of the financial crisis in Europe and in America. I am also aware of human history cycles similar to that that we face today, such as the first municipal default in Greece 2400 years ago and the fall of Rome before western civilization entered the Dark Ages. I am aware that what destroyed those societies is the same issues we face today. In fact I would say I am far more informed on the subject than you appear to be.

    To say that it is just the banking and insurance industry is very a limited understanding of it.

    To better understand the problem I suggest you study the “Unfunded Pension and Retirement Liabilities” of the States and municipalities. That is at the heart of the Americas problems – the Progressive Liberal big banks and big Corporations are culpable and duplicitous too, in fact to a criminal level in my mind. However, it’s a fraction of what the problems are. (yes, BIG business by and large are run by progressive liberals and support primarily the democratic party. Check your facts before you react)

    Your limited perspective is also part of the problem. You think you know – but you don’t. That’s dangerous.

    I stand by my statement above and am prepared with DEEP details and analysis including the numbers, which for the States & Municipalities in the USA are now estimated at FOUR TRILLION DOLLARS.
    I caution you, your shallow analysis is just that – shallow.

    This is an important issue and I encourage you to follow the Drudge Report – he digs out the most pertinent articles from all over the world and his readers are informed. More people go to his site for news than any other news source in the world. The Drudge news site has more daily visitors than Facebook and Twitter COMBINED.

    Get informed!

  7. PubworksTV says - Posted: October 27, 2011

    Conservative Robot,

    Conservatives tend to be much more informed than you.

    It is obvious you have a very narrow viewpoint – on the banking issue you spout out on above and others in the past.

    You would benefit if you studied up more, read past the headlines in the main stream press.

    Where did you get your indoctrination anyway? A victim of the California School system would be my guess.

  8. PubworksTV says - Posted: October 27, 2011


    Conservation Robot, I think of your posts as critical of conservatives and always mix up your name.

  9. Chuck palahnuik says - Posted: October 27, 2011

    Trpa still wants to force everyone to bmp their home? What we need is to force them to change their regulation to only require bmps for the homes which drain to the lake. People will support that type of regulation because it will work, there is no point in bmps on homes which do not drain to the lake! has more solutions for lake clarity, but do not count on trpa to lead the way out of tahoes dysfunctional state

  10. Steve says - Posted: October 27, 2011

    Why couldn’t BMP’s be eliminated altogether if the same purpose could be achieved more efficiently with simple filters on all street storm drains? The filters would catch the runoff impurities from the streets as well.

  11. Jeffy says - Posted: October 27, 2011

    There are hundreds of theories about the decline of the Roman Empire. One of them includes a disregard for sustainable use of natural resources.

  12. Tahoe Huskies says - Posted: October 27, 2011

    Wait a minute, all homes/properties in the Tahoe Basin are in a watershed! And this happens to be Lake Tahoe’s watershed. Therefore, all areas of the watershed drain into Lake Tahoe.

    So, with that reasoning, it would be logical to require all properties in the Tahoe Basin to have and maintain BMPs. Now, Lake front properties with expansive lawns is a different problem that the TRPA needs to address.

  13. satori says - Posted: October 27, 2011

    The Drudge Report ? “Deep” analysis ? Well-informed as to sources of our malaise ?

    TRPA, whether Mr Zuckerman or Mr.
    Stockham are on board, suffers from a more serious structural dysfunction needing to be solved prior to their continued “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” – their threshold system is obsolete in a contemporary world, except that they still require everything to conform (even by the “consultants” they pick) & “toe that line”. They are terrified to alter what they have held dear (but non-functional) for all these years. . . that is hubris.

    As to being well informed, I will simply refer to the underlying premise of the book “Collapse” – of the 5 ‘ancient’ civilizations studied as to why they all ended up disappearing – it boiled down to “when the leadership insulated themselves from the consequences of their actions”. . .

    Ring any bells ? Look around again. . .

    As to Mr. Stockham’s comments, being on the job less than a month now, “we need to spend our resources on environmental gain” – he is ‘whistling in the dark’, as no one is yet considering the ‘fact’ that the last 1.5 billion dollars spent over the last 15 years (100 million $$/ year) have resulted in a net 6 inches of clarity (UCDavis annual report, State of the Lake, as of August 12th).

    That’s why there is a “Proclamation” – kicking the can down the road SIXTY FIVE YEARS – signed by the EPA and both Governors, as of August 16th.

    “Environmental gain” will only come about when we all stop ceding responsibility to agencies that are not equipped to understand true sustainability issues, only their own continuance, now in increasing doubt.

    That is now the American Way.

    As to transect zoning being a term “that no one understands”, that is probably more about his own understanding than that of others mentioned in this account. Mr. Stockham’s experience with annexing a large ranch to the City of Reno (to use the City’s tax base to pay for the developer’s infrastructural improvements while said ranch was 20 miles outside the City limits), does not qualify him to fully understand the needs of Tahoe’s “environmental gains”.

    I have said elsewhere that he will not prevail any better than did Mr. Zuckerman, unless of course he follows the politically dysfunctional “path” already taken by TRPA – a distinct possibility.

    Please note that Harmon joined TRPA when they were already three years behind in their “Pathway” update, and lasted two years – that accounts for all 5 of the years that they are behind, as staff has never been successfully reoriented to any future directions – by their continued living in the past . . . that is the engine that’s driving Tahoe further into the ground – absent any substantive reorientation of their own.

    As the journalist always concluded, “And so it goes”. . .

  14. Chuck palahnuik says - Posted: October 27, 2011

    Tahoe huskies, your logic is flawed because most roads and homes generate runoff that soaks into the ground before it reaches lake tahoe. Just look around when it is raining. And Steve sorry but filters of road runoff simply don’t work for the super fine particles which are constantly in suspension in lake Tahoe. 

  15. I' m a prisoner caught in a cross fire says - Posted: October 27, 2011

    Steve says: October 27, 2011 at 8:12 amWhy couldn’t BMP’s be eliminated altogether if the same purpose could be achieved more efficiently with simple filters on all street storm drains?

    Steve you are right, but here’s observation anyone can do in their own neighborhood or while driving up any SOUTH SHORE STREET.(open hole wagon paths)we call streets?
    The city suppose to keep the roads and gutters clear of debris.
    Honestly People, take a look at about any storm drain,The drains have been covered for weeks with pine needles and paper trash that washed down with the early Oct.storm that LASTED A couple days(rain,snow,ice).That was weeks ago.
    If you look, you will still see many drains covered with matter.
    What good are all these expensive projects that are suppose to clean the water before it enters the lake.
    Just simple road sweeping in our neighborhoods is too Difficult for the city works to maintain.The filter ponds are nothing short of a joke and bug breeder in early spring because they don’t spray enough, but someone paying for this on their tax bills, you ever look at your property tax statements?So where in the name of the devil is the man power and cash going to?

    People are really tired all these so called water filters when they can’t keep the streets clean and home owners that did do the bmp’s few years back don’t maintain the drip rocks on their overhangs.Just because they got checked off the list has no bearing on success if simple things aren’t maintained.

  16. Joe says - Posted: October 27, 2011

    Filters do not address reducing the volume of water and are expensive and not sustainable. The only thing that works for treatment is infiltration that so many seem to hate. If you don’t want to help the lake and are stuck in your mosquito brain world then move out. Bugs and ponded water were here before us… Its Better in a pond then in the lake.

  17. Chuck palahnuik says - Posted: October 27, 2011

    We shouldn’t filter road runoff for fine sediment cause it don’t work. Read for yourself

    Don’t sweep either, it doesn’t work. If we don’t infiltrate runoff we are waisting our money and the lake is going to turn green. The basins are easy to maintain

  18. the conservation robot says - Posted: October 28, 2011

    What? My Fight Club reference was deleted? (a book written by Chuck Palahniuk, and a random contributor has the name Chuck Palahnuik, only different by the order or 2 letters). I wish the writer, Chuck Palahniuk was a member of our community.
    Come on, that is awesome. What a coincidence.

    Also I agree with Chuck, infiltrate.
    Like Project Mayhem.

    Whatever, I am used to people not getting my Fight Club references.
    You are not your khakis.