TRPA Plans Vigorous Defense Of Affordable Housing Policies

Lake Tahoe CA/NV – The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) is planning a vigorous defense of a lawsuit filed last Friday against affordable and workforce housing policy changes adopted for the Lake Tahoe Region in December 2023, TRPA General Counsel John Marshall said in a statement today.

“Mountain Area Preservation, a Truckee-based group whose members identify themselves as people who live and work in the Lake Tahoe Region, seeks to close off opportunities for others of limited means to enjoy the same opportunities,” Marshall said.

TRPA’s recent policy changes created additional incentives for affordable and workforce housing close to transit and services, along with increased requirements for stormwater treatment to protect the lake’s famed clarity and measures to promote walking, biking, and transit use.

“Lake Tahoe has some of the strongest environmental protections in the nation thanks to the bi-state compact that created the TRPA in 1969,” said TRPA Executive Director Julie Regan. “The TRPA Governing Board has made it a priority to stand up for local workers to help revitalize our communities and protect the lake for future generations.”

Facts about environmental conditions at Lake Tahoe
  • Strict development caps through the Lake Tahoe Regional Plan are unparalleled in the United States and remain in effect for the Tahoe Basin under the amended policies to promote affordable housing.
  • Less than 1 percent of the land area of the Tahoe Basin is in a town center where new policies apply to deed-restricted affordable and workforce housing projects. The housing units reserved for the policy incentives have been set aside for decades.
  • More than 70 percent of the pollutants harming Lake Tahoe are coming from urban upland areas where reinvestment brings water quality and transportation improvements.
  • Monitoring of environmental conditions in the Tahoe Basin shows that the full-time population dropped 12 percent from 2000 to 2020 as home prices became out of reach for most residents.
  • Traffic statistics show the number of cars and visitors in the region has remained flat over the last decade even as leisure activities have shifted to outdoor recreation.
  • See also: presentation on demographics and transportation, pollution reduction progress reports, environmental threshold carrying capacity reports conducted every four years.

“Unfortunately, litigating affordable housing solutions under the guise of environmental protection is becoming a common tactic in communities across California and the nation, and is a major reason why shortages of affordable housing continue,” Marshall said. “In the case here in Lake Tahoe, these litigants are blocking both affordable housing solutions and progress toward lake clarity.”

Housing planners at TRPA have been following stories of similar litigation elsewhere:

How environmental law is misused to stop housing, CalMatters, January 8, 2023
https://calmatters.org/commentary/2023/01/how-environmental-law-is-misused-to-stop-housing/

How major environmental groups ended up on the wrong side of California’s housing crisis, Mother Jones, November 17, 2023
https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2023/11/green-groups-housing-crisis-ceqa-environmental-density-nimby/

NIMBYism as a barrier to housing and social mix in San Francisco, National Institute of Health Library of Medicine, May 26, 2021
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8149917/

Measure O and the downtown Santa Cruz library project, Santa Cruz Local, November 8, 2022
https://santacruzlocal.org/election/2022-nov-08/measure-o-downtown-library/

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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, contact Jeff Cowen, Public Information Officer, at (775) 589-5278 or jcowen@trpa.gov.

South Tahoe Students Explore Winter Science

South Tahoe Students Explore Winter Science

Environmental Coalition Elevates Science Learning at Heavenly Mountain Resort

 

Heavenly Ski Patrol demonstrates how they train the avalanche dogs, and what they do to protect people on the mountain. Credit: Lily Summerville, South Tahoe Refuse

South Lake Tahoe, CA – Two hundred and seventy middle school students are delving into the realms of science, snowmaking, winter wildlife, and snow safety this week at Heavenly Mountain Resort with a coalition of environmental educators. This Thursday will mark the culmination of the tenth year of this immersive, snowshoeing educational experience for local students, the South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition (STEEC) said today.

“Don’t tell my teachers, but yeah, this is way better than school,” said one eighth grade student at South Tahoe Middle School, who wishes to remain anonymous. “Until today, I had no idea I could take classes in high school first aide and go to college here for free to get my Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certificate to be a ski patroller at Heavenly.”

Generously supported by a grant from Vail Resorts EpicPromise, this collaborative winter adventure program by STEEC brings together professionals from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Lake Tahoe Unified School District Career Technical Education team, Heavenly Mountain Resort, Tahoe Institute for Natural Science, Sierra Avalanche Center, Sugar Pine Foundation, USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, South Tahoe Refuse, the City of South Lake Tahoe, and South Tahoe Public Utility District.

Students practice measuring trees from afar using best practices taught by the Sugar Pine Foundation. Credit: Victoria Ortiz, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

“Taking the classroom outside, these field trips educate and connect students with their alpine backyard, making scientific concepts easily accessible through hands-on sensory learning,” said Victoria Ortiz, event organizer and community engagement manager with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

This marked the tenth year STEEC has offered the field trip, although in previous years the program was geared toward fifth grade students. Over the course of two days, every South Tahoe Middle School eighth grader will ride the Heavenly aerial tram to the top of the mountain, where they split into groups and rotate between interactive stations.

Tasha Thomas (center) with Sierra Avalanche Center teaches students how to discern the shapes of the snow crystals and the protocol used in the backcountry to test the snowpack. Credit: Victoria Ortiz, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

Students learn about winter animal adaptations, how to measure trees, and how to discern the shapes of snow crystals. They also meet Heavenly’s avalanche rescue dogs. Ski patrollers explain how they train the dogs, and then treat students to a demonstration of how they dig out someone buried by an avalanche.

“This program is one of many that STEEC organizes throughout the year,” said Alissa Zertuche, career technical education specialist for Lake Tahoe Unified School District. “We’re grateful to all of our partner organizations for creating curriculum that aligns with science standards and brings science to life!”

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The South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition is a collaborative network of more than 20 local agencies and organizations with an aligned mission to bring environmental education resources to Lake Tahoe youth by providing high quality environmental and outdoor education programs. For additional information, contact Jeff Cowen, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Public Information Officer, at (775) 589-5278 or jcowen@trpa.gov.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Honored with Rosa Parks Award

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Honored with Rosa Parks Award

Image: Lead staff on the Transportation Equity Study Victoria Ortiz (L) and Kira Richardson (R) accept the award on Wednesday at the WTS event in Sacramento, Calif.

 

Sacramento, Calif. – The Sacramento chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar International (WTS) bestowed its 2023 Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award Wednesday to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) Transportation Equity Study, the agency announced today. Sacramento WTS leaders presented the award to TRPA staff at the annual awards and scholarship event in Sacramento, Calif.

Many citizens are underrepresented in traditional transportation planning and TRPA is working to ensure all Lake Tahoe community members are heard and engaged. Surveys of Tahoe’s small, rural communities show at least 30 percent of residents are underrepresented. Many live below the poverty line and nearly 1,000 households have no access to a car.

Lead staff for the equity study, Senior Transportation Planner Kira Richardson and Community Engagement Manager Victoria Ortiz, accepted the award on behalf of the agency alongside Kendall Flint of DKS Associates, the project consultant.

“We are honored for this recognition of the agency’s work with local community-based organizations and partner agencies to create a more equitable and accessible future for everyone at Lake Tahoe,” said TRPA’s Richardson. “We are also grateful for the relationships we’ve strengthened with many local residents who face unique adversities every day.”

The Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award honors organizations seeking to promote diversity and cultural awareness in the transportation industry. TRPA completed the first-ever Transportation Equity Study for the Lake Tahoe Region in 2023. The study team conducted multi-lingual community engagement to improve TRPA’s connection with underserved communities and to understand how transportation planning and decision-making can remove inequities.

“Equity in our transportation system is a cornerstone of environmental quality and community well-being,” said TRPA Governing Board Chair Cindy Gustafson who is also Placer County District 5 Supervisor. “The Transportation Equity Study will foster fair and efficient transportation options and lead the way to a healthier Lake Tahoe that is inclusive and accessible for all. I applaud the agency and its staff for this incredible recognition.”

The equity study brings forward a suite of policy recommendations such as improving winter access to work, recreation, and services by providing transit shelters and cleared sidewalks and pathways. The study also includes an interactive storymap to educate the public and help guide transportation projects and plans, including the Lake Tahoe Regional Transportation Plan update underway this year.

Background

TRPA has a lead role in identifying solutions for the region’s transportation challenges. As the federally designated metropolitan planning organization for the Lake Tahoe Region, TRPA plans transportation system improvements and brings in state, regional, and federal transportation funding for programs and projects. Local, state, and federal partners implement projects and operate transit services throughout the Tahoe Region. Since 1997, partners have constructed or improved 198 miles of bike and pedestrian trails.

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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, contact Jeff Cowen, Public Information Officer, at (775) 589-5278 or jcowen@trpa.gov

Vision Zero Strategy Aims to Make Tahoe Roads Safer

Vision Zero Strategy Aims to Make Tahoe Roads Safer

Draft Vision Zero Strategy available for public review and input through February 2

Lake Tahoe, NV/CA – From 2013 to 2021, there were 41 fatalities and 183 life-changing serious injuries on Tahoe’s roadways, according to crash data reported by state and local law enforcement agencies. To help prevent these tragic crashes, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) this week released the draft Vision Zero Strategy for the Lake Tahoe Region. The data-backed strategy includes proposed policy changes and priority projects to help transportation partners across the Lake Tahoe Region improve safety for all road users, the agency said today.

The Vision Zero Strategy aims to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, and fair mobility for all. TRPA encourages members of the public to review and comment on the draft document through February 2.

The Vision Zero Strategy will roll up into the 2025 Regional Transportation Plan update along with the recently completed Transportation Equity Study and Tahoe Trails Strategy. TRPA leads transportation improvement, planning, and funding in the Tahoe Region to improve safety, create more walkable and bikeable communities, and protect Lake Tahoe’s air and water quality.

Vision Zero emphasizes the importance of collaboration with local governments, state agencies, law enforcement, advocacy groups, and the public. During 2023, outreach in English and Spanish gathered input from more than 400 people at community events and 320 survey respondents.

The final strategy will be heard by the TRPA Governing Board at its February 28 meeting. The public can review the draft Vision Zero Strategy at trpa.gov/visionzero and submit comments through February 2 to Rachael Shaw at rshaw@trpa.gov, or by phone at (775) 589-5267.

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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, contact Jeff Cowen, Public Information Officer, at (775) 589-5278 or jcowen@trpa.gov.

Renowned climate scientist to present at the Tahoe Science Center and Lake Tahoe Community College Jan. 23

Free registration for these events are sold out, but you can sill register for the livestream Zoom webinar.

Tuesday, January 23 at 10 a.m. in the Tahoe Science Center on the UNR Tahoe Campus
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, and University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe present internationally renowned climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe for an exclusive North Shore presentation.

Hayhoe’s TED talk, “The most important thing you can do to fight climate change,” has over four million views.

“We are honored to bring Dr. Hayhoe here in partnership with UC Davis TERC and UNR Tahoe,” said TRPA Executive Director Julie Regan. “Lake Tahoe’s environment and communities are in the crosshairs of a climate crisis that is happening globally. Heightening awareness and sharing ideas will strengthen the climate resilience of the Tahoe Region and spread innovation.”

Events Info

UC Davis and UNR Tahoe Event Registration
Free registration for this event is sold out, but you can sill register for the livestream Zoom webinar.

Tuesday, January 23 at 3 p.m. in the Duke Theatre on the Lake Tahoe Community College Campus
The LTCC Foundation with The Friends of the Library, South Lake Tahoe, present a talk by internationally renowned climate scientist: Dr. Katharine Hayhoe on the South Shore.

Friends of the Library and LTCC Event

About Dr. Hayhoe

Author of the best-selling book, Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World.
Her research focuses on understanding the impacts of climate change on people and the planet – and what individuals can do to have an impact.
Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy and a Horn Distinguished Professor and Endowed Professor of Public Policy and Public Law at Texas Tech University.
The 27th Annual Operation Sierra Storm brings 30+ television meteorologists and science leaders together for discussion on important climate topics. Also, to reinforce the Visit Lake Tahoe brand as one of the country’s leading winter destinations, with an emphasis on its stewardship and sustainability direction via broadcasts and social media content.

Agency Makes Broad Improvements to Permitting Services

Agency Makes Broad Improvements to Permitting Services

The TRPA office lobby in Stateline, Nev. has been remodeled to accommodate improved permitting services.

 

Lake Tahoe, NV/CA – The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) is rolling out numerous improvements to permitting services including a suite of policy changes to encourage environmental redevelopment and improve efficiency, the agency said today.

TRPA staff is also moving forward with comprehensive improvements to the regional permitting system to establish more efficient, consistent, and predictable application review processes. Improvements approved by the TRPA Governing Board last year will take effect this month, with more being developed this year.

An updated 2024 Fee Schedule takes effect January 22 that reflects the streamlining, expedited processes, and shorter review times, according to TRPA.

“Environmental improvements made by property owners through the permitting process are an important part of the collaborative work to protect and restore Lake Tahoe,” TRPA Executive Director Julie Regan said. “Our commitment to providing excellent public service helps encourage environmental redevelopment, which benefits the lake and our communities.”

More information is available here. Permitting service updates include:

Get Help from a Permitting Technician

A full-time receptionist is available to answer general questions and public computer kiosk is here to help with parcel information searches and permit submittals.

TRPA has dedicated staff available to answer questions about properties and permitting. Getting help in the initial planning phase often saves applicants time and sets the foundation for a streamlined project. Permitting Technicians are available by phone or appointment Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Direct Permitting Services Line

(775) 589-5333

Meet with a Permit Technician

Meet virtually or in-person with a TRPA permitting technician. Fifteen and thirty minute appointments are available. These appointments are ideal to answer questions about a project or receive help with an application submittal.

Book a Pre-Application Consultation

Pre-Application Consultations

For more complex projects, the agency also offers helpful pre-application consultations for a small fee. These appointments are ideal for discussing project concepts, permit processes, needed information, and possible issues in advance. Planners and other TRPA experts (i.e. scenic, BMPs, tree removal) will be able to provide preliminary input and advice.

Book a Pre-Application Consultation

Improved Permit Tracking and Connecting with the Assigned Planner

Once TRPA receives an application and has determined that it is complete, the project will be assigned to a planner for review. To see who has been assigned to review a TRPA application, visit the Parcel Tracker and enter the TRPA file number or property address in the top right search field.

New Look for the TRPA Lobby

More one-on-one meeting spaces have been added for in-person appointments.

TRPA recently renovated its front lobby to better accommodate and welcome visitors. Updates include a conversation and waiting area, private meeting rooms, and a public computer for online application submittals. A public service specialist staffing the front lobby helps answer general questions and connect visitors with permit technicians. The agency also dedicated space in the lobby for its land acknowledgement to the native Washoe Tribe.

Front Lobby Hours
    • Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
    • Tuesday: 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Faster Turnarounds for Small Projects

The agency now offers expedited permitting for projects that require TRPA review and are relatively simple in scope and present a low potential risk to the environment. Minor project applications have a much shorter turnaround time. Most minor projects are reviewed within 40 days or less. More complex projects may take up to 120 days or more.

Minor projects that qualify for expedited permitting
      • Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
      • Conversions and transfers of development rights and some coverage transfers
      • Development right banking
      • Historic resource determinations
      • Select lot line adjustments
      • Select grading or earth moving
      • Select site or building improvements

40-Day Review for Minor Projects Packet

Same-day acknowledgement for Qualified Exempt activities (QEs)

These activities are generally minor improvements such as structural modifications, remodeling, additions of non-permanent structures, or changes in use. QEs require submittal of an online declaration form at least three days prior to the activity. The agency now offers a same-day acknowledgement process for QE declarations.

For a list of fully exempt activities that do not require any contact with TRPA, click here.

Same Day Acknowledgement for QE Activities

New 2024 Fee Schedule Effective January 22

The updated 2024 Fee Schedule will be effective and available on the TRPA website January 22, 2024. The fee schedule includes application filing, inspection, monitoring, and mitigation fees.

Permitting Improvement Project Continues

TRPA has dedicated a team and a consultant to work with stakeholders, partners agencies to suggest comprehensive updates to the regional permitting system and benefit Lake Tahoe. The key focus of the project is to establish more efficient, consistent, and predictable application review processes. Environmental redevelopment and private reinvestment benefits Lake Tahoe, our communities, and local businesses.

In October 2023, the TRPA Governing Board adopted an initial suite of amendments as part of the Permitting Improvement Project:

    • Expanded list of Exempt activities that do not need TRPA review.
    • Changed the Level of Review for projects that do not need a public hearing.
    • Clarified the definition of Land Coverage and the criteria for coverage transfers.
    • Expanded eligibility of Coverage Exemptions.
    • Clarified Roof Height and Pitch.
    • Expedited review of Minor Projects and streamlined process for concurrent reviews.
    • Streamlined projects with Historic Resource Determinations.

The amendments above are also paired with a broad range of operational improvements:

    • Dedicated project review teams.
    • Dedicated service phone line and staff to answer questions.
    • New appointment system.
    • New Procedure Manual providing a step-by-step guide for the permit process.
    • Improved website navigation to permit applications and online tools.
    • Convenient lists and links to all references in the TRPA Code of Ordinances.
    • Expense monitoring system for application reviews.

Between now and March 2023, the permitting improvement project team will develop additional process updates for consideration by the TRPA Governing Board.

Find out more about the project or recent amendment here.

Helpful Permitting Resources

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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, contact Jeff Cowen, Public Information Officer, at (775) 589-5278 or jcowen@trpa.gov.