On Thursday, Douglas County commissioners will meet at 1:30 p.m. in the Tahoe Transportation Center, 169 Highway 50, Stateline, to reconsider last year's decision that put big business ahead of Lake Tahoe homeowners, small businesses and county taxpayers.
For 40 years, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has had regulatory power over 5,000 parcels inside the Tahoe Township of Douglas County. As part of the Regional Plan Update, TRPA passed in December 2012, Douglas County now has the opportunity to replace TRPA as the primary land-use regulator. However, this will happen only after each parcel is included inside a TRPA approved County Area Plan. Until then, every parcel remains under TRPA's control and is not eligible for regional play update economic and environmental incentives.
Last winter, Tahoe casinos and Edgewood asked county commissioners to direct county staff to: 1) prepare a first area plan that would primarily include their parcels (about 1 percent of Tahoe Township parcels); and 2) do a second area plan later for the remaining 99 parcels of parcels owned by homeowners and small businesses. Since no one objected, that is how the county proceeded.
On Thursday, county commissioners will reconsider whether one area plan for the entire Tahoe Township is more economically prudent and just, rather than two area plans.
Last year's decision disadvantages the 99 percent of parcels that would be excluded from the first area plan, and burdens all county taxpayers with duplicative preparation and legal costs, and ongoing administrative costs associated with additional TRPA reporting obligations every quarter that county staff would incur with multiple Tahoe area plans.
The county has an obligation to provide equal protection to all constituents. By providing regional planning update economic and environmental improvement incentives to all Tahoe parcels simultaneously in one area plan, more economic activity of benefit to all county residents is incentivized sooner. The county could also reform the 20-year-old, outdated zoning boundaries inside the Tahoe Township. Tahoe should have one area plan, just as the rest of the county has one master plan.
When the county's first Tahoe area plan is sued (the Sierra Club sued the TRPA RPU on Feb. 11, citing illegal area plans), if the first area plan excludes 99 percent of Tahoe parcels, then county taxpayers will be paying for litigation that benefits only big business, and paying for more litigation for later area plans too. One area plan covering the entire Tahoe Township should be defended in one case, so everyone exits litigation at the same time with equal rights and opportunities.
As a Tahoe homeowner who has incurred thousands of dollars of TRPA caused costs and delays for home improvements, and as a small business owner of a Stateline project seeking regional planning update incentives on the same schedule as big business, I encourage county residents to speak at the Thursday county hearing in support of Commissioners approving "one area plan" for the entire Tahoe Township.
Gail A. Jaquish