New Tahoe Regional Plan Approved
For the first time since 1987, Lake Tahoe has a new regional plan for development and land use.
Twelve of the 14 voting members of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's governing board voted in favor of the new plan, with one member voting against it and another abstaining, according to TRPA spokesman Jeff Cowan.
Business interests say the plan is an overdue overhaul of regulations that will jump-start Tahoe's tourism economy while also protecting its environment.
Julie Regan of the TRPA says most of the plan focuses on trying to make the lake a more walkable, bikeable place, since most the outgoing plan was made with an automobile-centered mindset.
"The development pattern around the basin here is one that's auto dominated," Regan said. "Just because of the time at which most of the development happened we were an auto-centric culture in the 60s and 70s. And we are looking to retrofit Lake Tahoe so that it is more bikeable and walkable and the benefit of doing that is we also get lots of air and water quality benefits for the lake as well."
The board heard numerous public comments throughout the day -- after some 5,000 others weighed in during the prior public comment period.
They included Tahoe businessman -- and former TRPA executive -- Ed Gurowitz.
"I've heard allegations that TRPA is beholden to special interests, is a tool of the developers," Gurowitz said. "I don't think anybody actually said TRPA was the antichrist, but it was implied. And that somehow the staff at TRPA are there about something other than the best interests of the lake...and I want to tell you that that's simply not the case."
But critics, such as the Laurel Ames of the Tahoe Chapter of the Sierra Club, say the plan allows for too much development too quickly without adequate studies and lacks enough specific requirements for developers.
"It sounds good when you hear the folks at the TRPA talk about it," Ames said. "But there's no 'there' there. You get into it and there's language that's very loose, and it simply doesn't tie things down."
Others lamented the Nevada Legislature's 2011 passage of Senate Bill 271, which threatened to pull Nevada out of the bi-state TRPA if certain reforms aren't made.
Most of the updates in the new plan take effect in 60 days.