Development Rights

Visit the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Marketplace

Development rights are land use units someone must acquire before a property is developed. Development rights include tourist accommodation units (TAUs), single and multi-family residential units of use (RUUs), and commercial floor area (CFA). Residential units of use (RUUs) are formed by combining a potential residential unit of use (PRU) and a residential allocation.

Why are development rights required?

Much of the urban development at Lake Tahoe was constructed in the 1950s and ’60s to support the gaming industry and Winter Olympics. Approximately 75 percent of marshes and 50 percent of meadows were developed before the need to protect these areas was well understood. Today, urban development makes up approximately 10 percent of the land use in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Although this may seem like a relatively small percentage, development has huge environmental impacts.

Lake Tahoe’s existing development pattern impacts the environment:

  • Extensive development is in stream environment zones (SEZs) and other sensitive lands.
  • Older development is often a significant source of water pollution.
  • Widely distributed development patterns make transit systems inefficient and create an over-dependence on automobiles.
  • Many areas lack safe and convenient pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

The development rights system was adopted in 1987 to cap the total amount of development potential and ensure the pace of development aligns with environmental capacity.

Development Rights Acquisitions and Transactions

How do I get development rights for my project and what can I do with them once I have them?

Development rights are assets tied to a property. Unused or underutilized units can be banked on a property; sold and transferred to another property, either through the private market or local land bank; or converted to other land uses (e.g. from commercial to residential). Additionally, development rights can be acquired by retiring a sensitive property or through a local jurisdiction.


View the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Factsheet


Find Existing Development Rights


Parcel Tracker
Banked and verified development rights



Local Land Bank – California or Nevada
Development rights from sensitive or restored sites



Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Marketplace
Connects buyers and sellers of development rights


To learn more about the allocation process for commercial, tourist, or residential units from the local jurisdictions, please use the links below:

City of South Lake Tahoe

El Dorado County

Douglas County

Washoe County

Placer County

Development Incentives – Get More!



The Lake Tahoe Regional Plan has incentives in place to encourage environmentally beneficial redevelopment – removing development in environmentally sensitive areas and transferring that development potential to areas more suitable for development and town centers which have access to infrastructure, services, and transit.

Transferring existing development from sensitive or remote areas could mean big rewards for your project. TRPA will award up to five bonus units for every one unit transferred on eligible sending and receiving properties.

Step 1: Determine the sensitivity of the sending property by visiting the Parcel Tracker. The more sensitive a property the higher the transfer ratio will be.

Step 2: Determine the distance of the sending property from a town center or primary transit route by visiting the Map Maker.

Step 3: Calculate your transfer ratio using the TRPA Code of Ordinances.

TRPA also has incentives to encourage affordable, moderate, and achievable housing options. Visit the TRPA housing page to learn more.

For more information, please contact the TRPA Current Planning Department at 775-588-4547.