South Shore area plans discussed at meeting of joint powers |

South Shore area plans discussed at meeting of joint powers

by Eric Heinz

South Shore residents are starting to see possible future plans for the community as area plans head toward final stages for approval.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Governing Board adopted the South Shore Area Plan of Douglas County about two weeks ago, and South Lake Tahoe and Meyers are looking to have their own plans stamped for approval.

A special joint powers meeting Monday between El Dorado County Board of Supervisors, the City of South Lake Tahoe Council and Douglas County Board of Commissioners outlined parts of each area plan.

As city and county representatives and civil engineering experts aim to keep their respective plans tailored to their residents’ needs and goals, the plans will have some differences.

The Douglas County plan has already been adopted by the TRPA Governing Board; the South Lake Tahoe plan has been adopted by city council and is expected to go before the TRPA board in mid-November; and the Meyers draft plan is going through environmental review with public comment periods ending Friday.

The plans’ similarities include reducing building height or adjusting it to specific areas to accommodate view space of the horizon, seeking contiguous pathways and walkways for recreation and pedestrian accessibility, objectives for reducing sediment in Lake Tahoe and ways in which to grow economic development.

TRPA public information officer Jeff Cowen said there are some immediate differences in the Tourism Area Core Plan of South Lake Tahoe and the abutting Douglas County South Shore Area Plan, but they mostly contrast in how they have to conform to their state and county laws.

“Basically, the two plans, when put together, create interconnections between the Lake, tourist accommodation and commercial developments in the core areas along U.S. (Highway) 50 from Kahle (Drive) to Ski Run (Boulevard), and the mountain,” Cowen stated in an email, adding the plans are slated to intertwine all types of transit amenities.

The two plans between the Stateline area and South Lake Tahoe focus on information collected in “South Shore Vision,” an economic document complied by Strategic Marketing Group with the cooperation of local governments and economic agencies.

“One area where there is a slight difference is in how the plans treat the South Shore Community Revitalization Project (the loop road),” Cowen stated. “The (Douglas County) plan supports the loop road project. The (South Lake Tahoe) plan includes policies encouraging the creation of a low-speed main street through the area and committing to working with other agencies in the planning of the project, but it does not take a position on the loop road project itself.”

The time period for public comments on the Meyers Area Plan will close Friday, according to the El Dorado County website.

TRPA principal planner Adam Lewandowski spoke Monday about how the Meyers Area Plan outlines its own zoning targets, any areas from industry to recreation and environmental restoration.

“One thing that came up over and over again was that residents wanted to maintain the unique and rural feel of Meyers,” Lewandowski said.

Lewandowski said the Meyers plan also seeks to connect residential and recreation areas via infrastructure that doesn’t require an automobile.

“Meyers is less-intensively developed; it’s a little more rural,” Lewandowski said. “(The draft plan) is just kind of reflecting what’s there now and reflecting the desires of the community out there.”

Lewandowski said there will be more edits to the plan as it prepares for adoption by the TRPA scheduled for early next year.

Area plans began to form about a year ago after the adoption of the TRPA’s Regional Plan Update, which governs all of the regulations put in place by the plans. Each plan must conform to the regional plan’s mandates under the Bi-State Compact.

Part of the update was to reform regulations of redevelopment of existing buildings and alleviate some of the environmental restrictions that came with construction.

This was an attempt to give private property owners an incentive to continue redevelopment.

By using the existing structures and not erecting completely new buildings or look to extend commercial and new residential areas, the idea is to prevent sediment from construction and keep Lake Tahoe as clear as possible, but at the same time area can prosper off the projects, TRPA Executive Director Joanne Marchetta said during the meeting.

“The action (with the regional plan) we needed to take was no longer to un-control growth because we had already accomplished that,” Marchetta said. “Rather, we needed to encourage private-property owners to improve their properties, and that investment would not only improve the environment, but it would strengthen our small community.”

A main talking point among officials who have developed the area plans is giving the ability for private land owners to submit building permits with local governments and county governments instead of always also having to go through the TRPA.

Some projects now will have a “fast-track” to get building approval, intended mainly for redevelopment projects.

At this time, the regional plan is under a lawsuit from the Tahoe Area Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore organizations, and a federal judge has yet to make final ruling on the case. Sierra Club members have argued in the past that the plan does not address adequate sediment reduction and makes development laws too lenient as compared to the former plan that was adopted in 1987.