Joanne S. Marchetta

By Joanne S. Marchetta

Collaboration is not just a buzz word. It is the hard work of listening to differing interests and finding common ground. It means standing in one another’s shoes and crediting all points of view. It is often uncomfortable to give ground. But when we do it benefits Lake Tahoe’s environment and communities.

Collaboration is key to our success at Tahoe and paved the way for a full year of accomplishments in 2018. By working together to solve some of Tahoe’s most difficult challenges, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and local, state, federal, and community partners achieved things we could never achieve before. It is critical for each of us to build on this spirit of partnership for continued progress on even more challenges.

We have much to be proud of. After three years of collaboration, TRPA approved a new Shoreline Plan that improves recreation access to the lake, improves recreation experiences for swimmers, paddlers, and boaters on the lake, and protects the scenic shoreline environment.

TRPA also enacted comprehensive changes to Tahoe’s unique development rights system by working closely with local and state partners, environmental groups, and the business community. The changes make it easier for people to invest in environmentally-beneficial redevelopment projects and build the workforce housing needed in Tahoe’s communities.

TRPA approved the U.S. 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project, which has been decades in the making. The project will bring transformational change to the South Shore, with improvements for traffic flow, transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, economic and community vitality, and affordable housing.

This summer, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Tahoe’s watercraft inspection program. The collaborative program started in 2009, when quagga and zebra mussels were spreading westward and devastating lakes and rivers nearby. Our collective work has prevented the introduction of any new aquatic invasive species in Tahoe over the last decade.

These are all landmark achievements made possible only with a broad range of public and private partners working together. They show the Tahoe Region is making great strides through partnership and collaboration.

Still, our work is far from over. Tahoe continues to face serious and difficult challenges, from transportation to affordable housing, climate change, controlling existing populations of invasive species, wildfire, and the need for private investment and redevelopment to revitalize communities. TRPA will continue to move forward with collaborative initiatives to make progress on all these fronts in the coming year.

With approval of the U.S. 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project, TRPA and partners will now develop a main street management plan for the section of highway that will become a local main street throughout the Stateline area. This important plan will identify the specifics of bike, pedestrian, and transit circulation; parking management strategies; and streetscape amenities needed to realize the full benefits of this project. This is something we will be looking to partner agencies, property owners, and the public to help develop.

TRPA will be working with local and state government and partners like the Mountain Housing Council and Tahoe Prosperity Center to ensure that developments rights changes that make it easier to build housing for low- and moderate-income residents, are used to provide greater housing options. This includes housing for the “missing middle,” people who earn more than the median income but cannot afford the median home price.

Having secured an additional $4 million in federal funding, TRPA and partners will also increase our work on the daunting challenge to control harmful infestations of aquatic invasive species in Tahoe. We are moving forward with a collaborative approach for the aquatic invasive species infestations in the Tahoe Keys. A broad range of stakeholders will work together to complete a thorough environmental review of proposals to treat weeds in the Tahoe Keys and build support for an effective, science-based program to address the weeds and prevent their spread.

With the devastating wildfires in California and Nevada, we must all continue to make wildfire prevention and preparedness a top priority at Tahoe. Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team partners have thinned 75,000 acres of forest in the dangerous wildland urban interface areas where forests and communities meet. And we are actively working to expand the pace and scale of that work through projects like the Lake Tahoe West Restoration Partnership, which is targeting forest health treatments in 60,000 acres of forest extending from Emerald Bay to Squaw Valley.

Residents play an equally important role in wildfire preparedness. Please work with your local fire district to manage vegetation and create defensible space on your property, make your home more resistant to wildfire embers, and sign up for emergency notifications from your county so when Tahoe’s next wildfire ignites you get the information you need.

As U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said at this year’s summit, “Team Tahoe” is an open club and a club that needs your help. Please get involved and share your ideas and energy to help us conserve, restore, and protect this beautiful place we all treasure.

Joanne S. Marchetta is executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.