TRPA approves 212 building allocations

The board members of Tahoe's planning agency approved 212 new building allocations for 2006 at their meeting Wednesday. An allocation is the first thing you need if you want to build a house in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Other topics that came up included long-awaited shorezone rules, a $700,000 fine for a sewage spill in North Shore, and the progress of the agency's 20-year planning process, called Pathway 2007.

The building allocation system is based on incentives to local jurisdictions to perform environmental improvements.

For instance, the more "best management practices" property owners accomplish in South Lake Tahoe, the more allocations the city earns for the next year, among other factors.

The allocation system expires in one year, pending enactment of TRPA's next 20-year plan. Board members agreed it was crucial to come up with an interim system in case the 20-year plan was not complete by Jan. 1, 2007.

Board member and South Lake Tahoe City Councilman John Upton asked whether there could be a system where entire neighborhoods are inspected at once for what work they need to do, given there are more than 30,000 properties in the basin which will likely need BMPs.

"Obviously it's going to be a lot more efficient for a parcel inspector to do it all at once rather than wait for a phone call," Upton said. The city would be willing to staff someone to do inspections, he said.

Although it was not an agenda item, there was some buzz Wednesday on shorezone, the long-awaited rules regarding how boats will be regulated and how many piers and buoys will be allowed on Lake Tahoe.

Some board members seemed antsy to know when final documents would be made available to them.

The plan the TRPA will recommend the board adopt, called the "preferred alternative," will be completed in January, but will not be released to the board or the public for comment until March, said agency executive director John Singlaub.

"So there will be copies of the draft alternative available to the board in January?" member Shelly Aldean said.

"I was not intending to make that a public document. It's a working document," Singlaub said.

The board will be asked to vote on shorezone ordinances one month later, in April.

"So there won't be much of an opportunity to make changes once the draft is done?" Aldean said.

"That's correct," Singlaub said.

TRPA's lead lawyer Joanne Marchetta said after the meeting she had to discuss with Singlaub whether the agency could issue a confidential document only to board members.

Member Coe Swobe said he thought the document should come out next summer, when more stakeholders will likely be at the lake.

Members asked Marchetta to brief them on Lahontan Water Board's $700,000 fine two property owners and a contractor allegedly responsible for a large sewage spill that closed beaches on North Shore this summer.

"Is that fine of $700,000 ever going to be collected?" new member Chuck Ruthe said. "My understanding is the contractor has filed bankruptcy."

Marchetta said insurance companies would likely get involved and litigation would likely ensue between the parties subject to the fine to figure out who would pay.

Other members wondered why TRPA did not issue a fine itself. Deputy executive director Jerry Wells said the agency has an agreement with Lahontan that the water board is the lead agency on all spills.

Marchetta pointed out that TRPA can only fine $5,000 per day for each violation, while the water board can issue fines per gallon spilled.

She is negotiating with the water board to try to ensure some of the $700,000 comes back to Tahoe, she said.

The sewer line was more than 40 years old and the contractor, Pacific Built, has claimed Placer County did not provide them with accurate information.

It is alleged the contractor did not call the ultimate authority, Underground Service Alert, often called Digs.

"Do we have accurate maps of those sewer lines?" Aldean asked.

"North Tahoe PUD has accurate information, and that information would have been available if they had called," Singlaub said.

Items approved at the TRPA Governing Board meeting:

n Residential building allocations for 2006, totaling 212.

Ð City of South Lake Tahoe: 35

Ð Douglas County: 13

Ð El Dorado County: 83

Ð Placer County: 50

Ð Washoe County: 31

n A settlement with lakefront property owner Cleve Canepa, as well as all other items which included several transportation funding items.

n Spending money for Highway 50 Phase I between Trout Creek and El Dorado Beach.

n Item allowing the agency to use $4 million to buy new BlueGo buses and $8 million to develop a Tahoe Ferry system.

n Height standards amended to allow South Tahoe Refuse to build a faculty to code.


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