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Lake Tahoe. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

OPINION: TRPA Ignores Environmental And Safety Concerns of North Shore Residents

The TRPA APC has not provided a traffic or or environmental impact plan for an additional 946 housing units

By Nichols, November 10, 2023 12:18 pm

Yesterday the TRPA Advisory Planning Commission (APC) conceptually approved 946 housing units for extra height, density, coverage and inadequate parking. With only two dissenting votes, the APC moved to recommend the Phase Two Housing Amendments to TRPA’s Governing Board.

This decision came following what one commission member said was “the most public comment he had ever seen” with comments exceeding more than 275 pages. The in-person and written public comments were largely opposed to approval due to insufficient environmental and traffic data and analysis, among many other community impact reasons.

The APC comprised of 21 appointed representatives include Washoe County’s Eric Young and Placer County’s Emily Setzer who each pushed and supported the housing amendments. Thankfully, one local, Judith Simon from Crystal Bay, voted no.

Phase Two code changes apply to 946 Deed Restricted Units touted as a way to provide affordable housing, but it won’t be affordable. It will be “achievable.” In other words, there is no income cap to qualify. All you must do is self-report that you work 30 hours per week in the area and possess a business license. You could be a millionaire many-times over and qualify.

Tahoe needs workforce and affordable housing, not more luxury condos. If the TRPA was serious about supporting affordable housing each proposal would be required to provide half-workforce and half-affordable units.

Give affordable housing developers “free” land and rely on grant funding. Sugar Pine Village is a great example of South Shore affordable housing. It’s 248 units within 3 stories at 40’ high with one parking space per unit. It’s a nice project and meets the needs of the community.

The new 946 units, which TRPA claims is not significant, will be 65’ in height, with no maximum density, no minimum parking and 100% coverage. Buildings could cover an entire lot. This will apply to all the town centers in Tahoe City, Kings Beach, and Incline Village. Where there is multi-family zoning, the proposed development would be 42’, 70% coverage and .75 parking spaces per unit.

Incline Village, Carnelian Bay and Lake Forest are just a few North Shore areas that have multi-family zoning. Additionally, TRPA extended increases to 53’ in height for parcels adjacent to town centers (transition zones).

If TRPA’s governing board votes to approve in November and December, Phase Three begins. The process to date is the posterchild for piecemeal (bad) planning. To help navigate this complicated morass, we have created the chart below:

TRPA proposed development plan and timeline

Defying logic, TRPA won’t provide an environmental review. The agency only requires a “checklist” that they claim was amended but failed to provide to APC, or the public, yesterday. TRPA, Tahoe’s supposed “environmental watchdog,” has not demonstrated that Tahoe has the capacity to absorb this development. You can be sure TRPA will continue to change its poorly controlled and constantly morphing “growth management system.”

This is going to be a marathon, but hang in there. Next up is a TRPA hearing (Regional Plan Implementation Committee) on Wednesday, November 15. Then final TRPA Governing Board approval is on Wednesday, December 13.

Join us in the fight to keep North Shore from becoming South Shore. One size doesn’t fit all.

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