Environmental Upgrades on Tap in South Lake Tahoe as City Plan Approved by TRPA

Stateline, NV – Outdated development and pollution in the core of South Lake Tahoe could be on their way out with the adoption today of the City of South Lake Tahoe Tourist Core Area Plan by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) Governing Board.

TRPA’s implementation of the 2012 Regional Plan is moving forward on pace with positive progress coming from localized planning efforts like the City Area Plan.  Area Plans give local governments more responsibility for environmental restoration and project permitting as long as the plan meets TRPA’s high regional standards.

“We are seeing the start of an environmental renaissance in Tahoe,” Marchetta said. “A spirit of renewal is evident all around, and the community-based vision of more bikeable, walkable, and visually appealing centers for the City of South Lake Tahoe is now ready to guide future investment in an environmentally responsible way.”

The Area Plan approved unanimously by the TRPA board covers the Highway 50 corridor from Fairway Ave at Bijou, up and down Ski Run Boulevard, and up to the Stateline. Marchetta said that by adopting, as an example, height standards more strict than the Regional Plan, the City has shown they are ready to meet the challenge of incorporating strong environmental standards with economic incentives.

Whereas the Regional Plan set an overall height limit in the City Tourist Core of six stories, in response to community input, the Area Plan restricted the maximum height in certain areas and calls for the stepping of buildings away from residential areas to protect homeowners and home values.

“We have a plan we can work with,” City of South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tom Davis said. “We are moving forward to correct past mistakes and this plan is a way to do that through public-private partnerships.”

“The Area Plan is the implementation of the vision of the new Regional Plan,” City of South Lake Tahoe Manager Nancy Kerry said. “This plan will incentivize investment from private property owners to partner with the city and others to revitalize our local community. We appreciate the partnerships formed through the Regional Plan and look forward to the continued strengthening of those relationships to achieve our shared vision for Lake Tahoe’s future.”

Other environmental improvements and safeguards in the Area Plan include:

  • Promoting pedestrian safety and improved public health with mixed-use, infill redevelopment requirements that create more bikeable and walkable areas.
  • Increasing accountability by linking TRPA’s distribution of new development allocations to measured reductions in vehicle use in the Area Plan.
  • Setting hard targets for restoration of stream zone wetlands and reduction of impervious land coverage.
  • Allowing area-wide treatment of stormwater to help properties with space limitations infiltrate stormwater to improve lake clarity.
  • Making transfer incentives available that encourage removal of existing structures from sensitive areas so that the development rights can be used as an economic driver of mixed-use redevelopment projects.

Since 75 percent of Tahoe’s marshes and wetlands were lost to development during the mid-20th century building boom, relocating existing development out of these areas is a key restoration strategy that is supported equally by environmental groups, business and property owners and state and local leaders.

The Area Plan was widely supported at the public hearing held in Stateline, Nevada. One concern raised by the Sierra Club related to land coverage. The plan contains no net increase in impervious land coverage because coverage has to be relocated from existing restored sites in the local watershed, according to TRPA. The Lake Tahoe Regional Plan set a goal to increase the rate of land coverage reduction from private properties by 20 percent per year and the City Area Plan helps achieve that goal by encouraging redevelopment that must result in restoration onsite or within the surrounding area.

The plan now goes back to the City Council for final approval. It is the second local government plan to become part of TRPA’s Regional Plan. The Douglas County South Shore Area Plan, which will increase access to recreation areas and improve streetscape and scenery in the south state line area adjacent to the City of South Lake Tahoe, was adopted by TRPA in September. The City and Douglas County expect to bring forward additional Area Plans for other portions of their jurisdictions and El Dorado, Placer and Washoe counties are preparing plans, some of which are expected to come to TRPA for consideration in the coming year.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency leads the cooperative effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region, while improving local communities, and people’s interactions with our irreplaceable environment. For additional information, call Jeff Cowen at (775) 589-5278 or email him at jcowen@trpa.org.

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