1987 Tahoe Regional Plan Updated But Environmentalists Displeased

After 25 years, the Tahoe Regional Plan, a land use plan for the Lake Tahoe region encompassing both Nevada and California prepared by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, has been updated and approved by a 12-1-1 vote, though not without controversy.
December 18, 2012, 10am PST | Irvin Dawid
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Adam Jensen explains the challenges of getting an agency accountable to two states to agree to a land use plan for the environmentally sensitive Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake and second deepest in North America.

"Supporters have billed the Regional Plan Update (RPU) as a catalyst to improving Lake Tahoe's environment and its struggling economy, while critics contend the plan will harm the environment by loosening stringent rules surrounding land use at the lake." 

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) has a storied history.  It was the first bi-state regional environmental planning agency in the country. Not only did two states have to agree to it, so did the U.S. Congress in 1969.  It was the topic of a major Supreme Court ruling in 2002 on building moratoria and 'takings'.

"The RPU leaves many of the 1987 policies in place, while giving greater control to local jurisdictions by exempting some planning from direct TRPA review through an “Area Plan” process.

The RPU also hopes to encourage 'environmental redevelopment' by providing incentives to property owners to move development from sensitive or outlying areas into more populated areas designated as town centers."

Environmentalists unhappy and considering litigation.

"The Tahoe Area Sierra Club has been one of the most vocal opponents of the plan as proposed, calling the RPU a “greatly weakened new regional plan,” in a (Dec. 12) statement."  They fear the new plan "will lead to detrimental increases in height, density and coverage around the lake."

It is not know if the update will "face a lengthy court challenge as many decisions have in the past." The inclusion of a statement by an Earthjustice attorney in the Sierra Club document may have been an indication of an upcoming legal battle.

Keeping the plan out of the courts may be a requirement to keeping Nevada in the compact. Nevada passed a bill requiring an update of the regional plan for it to remain a member but added a caveat about litigation.

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Published on Thursday, December 13, 2012 in Tahoe Daily Tribune
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