The issue came to head during the 2011 Nevada Legislature. A new law passed by legislators and signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval calls for Nevada’s possible withdrawal from a long-standing compact unless the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency updates a regional plan and changes how building projects are approved.
The Nevada Appeal reports the TRPA governing board has endorsed the concept of allowing local governments to take over more duties, and adopted an updated code book intended to simplify Tahoe Basin regulations.
The new code book is expected to take effect in March after a public review.
TRPA officials say the changes will allow the agency to focus on more regional issues.
“TRPA’s goal is to operate more on a regional scale where we can be most effective at protecting the Lake Tahoe environment and to shift some level of permit review responsibilities to local governments,” said Executive Director Joanne Marchetta.
TRPA spokesman Jeff Cowen added, “We’re hopeful that, by clarifying the rules of the road for building projects at Tahoe, it will encourage more upgrades to existing homes and businesses and revitalize older developments.”
The agency’s tough permitting standards have been a sore point with residents for decades because every project basically requires a majority of both the Nevada and California members of the governing board to move forward.
Nevada Sens. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, and James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, charged that California members have blocked nearly every proposed development in the basin.
Basin residents testified during hearings on Lee’s bill to pull Nevada out of the bistate compact that TRPA has even prevented health-safety projects on private property such as removing pine needles for fire protection.
The agency was formed in the 1960s to create uniform minimum standards for preserving Lake Tahoe’s environment.
Marchetta said plans were to return control over much of the construction, repair and upgrade permitting to local governments. However, she said large-scale projects still may come under the TRPA’s authority.
“We’re focusing on regional environmental gain while promoting sustainable redevelopment in town centers and making the regulatory process more fair and consistent,” she said.