Lake Tahoe, CA/NV – Cutting air pollution, improving energy efficiency, stimulating the economy, creating more housing opportunities, and implementing the 2012 Lake Tahoe Regional Plan. These are elements of the Lake Tahoe Region’s first Sustainable Communities Program, which the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) presented today to its Governing Board in Stateline, Nevada.The program is part of the Agency’s implementation of the Regional Plan’s Sustainable Communities Strategy, a top priority for TRPA in 2014. Lake Tahoe was one of the first metropolitan planning organizations in California to have its Sustainable Community Strategy certified under the state’s greenhouse gas laws, AB 32 and SB 375.“What is unique about Lake Tahoe’s program is that we have been integrating transportation and land use planning for decades,” Marchetta said. “We have a firm regional framework and strong partnerships around environmental sustainability. Tahoe is perfectly positioned to implement new strategies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while benefitting our economies and community well-being.”
Science is proving that adapting to climate change is necessary globally and locally. Last year, NASA reported that 2013 was one of the warmest years on record for the planet’s surface. Locally, scientists at UC Davis have been reporting on the warming of Lake Tahoe for several years and in 2012 recorded the highest average surface water temperature ever. Climate change and warming conditions in the lake could affect the threat of wildfire and aquatic invasive species, and could alter the deep water mixing of Lake Tahoe, which keeps the lake healthy.
An overall sustainability framework coordinates the program to lead the Tahoe Basin toward a more sustainable future, the Agency said. The program has benefited from the cooperative efforts of other agencies and organizations through the Tahoe Basin Partnership for Sustainable Communities as well as public input through a community stakeholder group called the Lake Tahoe Sustainability Collaborative.
The Sustainability Action Plan is the keystone of the framework and includes the first complete greenhouse gas emissions inventory for the Lake Tahoe Basin.
“The emissions inventory clearly points to the need for a focus on improving transportation options, which we have prioritized in our implementation of the Regional Plan,” TRPA Transportation Planning Manager Nick Haven said.
The inventory will help target reductions from key sources. The Action Plan also sets achievable strategies for citizens, businesses and local governments to undertake that will lead to regional sustainability.
Elements of the Action Plan already in place and being prepared include:
- GHG reduction from cars and light trucks through the Regional Transportation Plan Sustainable Communities Strategy (already in place).
- Green building codes at the local level to reduce GHG from homes and buildings (to be required in all Area Plans).
- Sustainability measures like business retention and expansion programs, neighborhood services, local food production, or low impact development (next steps).
- Sustainability Dashboard and Indicators reporting tool to track shifts in the number of people walking and biking, unemployment rates, median income, or high school graduation rates (next steps).
- Community engagement and grass-roots working groups through the Lake Tahoe Sustainability Collaborative, which contributed to initiatives such as the plastic bag ban in the City of South Lake Tahoe (already in place and ongoing).
The Sustainable Communities Program has been funded by a grant from the California Strategic Growth Council. Next steps for the program include:
- Continuing to implement the On Our Way Community Grant Program to fund neighborhood level planning for sustainability projects.
- Applying to the Strategic Growth Council for additional grants to plan and design projects that will implement the program strategies.Rolling out an online commodities tracking and exchange tool to help property owners relocate existing development from outlying and sensitive areas into mixed-use, town centers.
- Assessing regional housing needs.
More information and ways that everyone can is available on the program website laketahoesustainablecommunitiesprogram.org.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.