To our Government Representatives: Help us take care of Tahoe. Help us transport people to and around Tahoe.
Two messages for our government officials at the August 16th Federal Summit surfaced clearly in discussion at a series of meetings hosted by the Chambers of Commerce, "Help us take care of Tahoe" and "Help us transport people to and around Tahoe." Read about some of the policy suggestions contemplated by participants.
August 8, 2011
by Michelle Sweeney
Senator Dianne Feinstein, host of the Lake Tahoe Federal Summit on August 16th at Homewood, requested that Tahoe communities suggest policies that will contribute to accomplishment of environmental and social goals of the Tahoe Basin. Toward this end the Chambers of Commerce hosted four discussions on August 3rd and 4th at South, West and North shore locations. Two themes for our government officials surfaced clearly in discussion: the first, “Help us take care of Tahoe”; the second, “Help us transport people to and around Tahoe”. Following are bulleted summaries of some of the policies contemplated by participants, accompanied by specific statements that express elements of the discussion. (The bulleted policy recommendations are not specifically those of the person quoted.)
Help us take care of Tahoe.
“As human beings we make messes. We are going to have to clean up Lake Tahoe and the next generation is going to have to keep cleaning up Lake Tahoe. It’s just what we do. If we want to live and play here we have to get used to the fact that there is a lot of regular maintenance to perform.” - Harmon Zuckerman, TRPA.
- Renew the federal partnership, reinvigorating the commitment to stewardship of the Tahoe Basin by the federal agencies with a role here.
- Create a regional source(s) of revenue as a means to support all Tahoe Basin jurisdictions in the upgrade and maintenance of transportation and water and sewer systems and implementation of actions to meet the TMDL Clarity Challenge.
- Dedicate a fund for the operation and maintenance of the infrastructure and programs of the Environmental Improvement Program.
- Find new sources of funding for water and sewer system maintenance and upgrades. (In addition to above.)
- Incorporate operations and maintenance costs into all aspects of what we do, as individuals, and at the local, state and federal government levels.
- Support a program of social science work that can, among other functions, identify in clearer terms the role the lake communities play in the economies of northern Nevada and California.
- Design a local jurisdiction policy of stewardship and education that emphasizes the personal role in community and environmental maintenance.
- Design a local jurisdiction policy that support small business (and commercial property occupancy).
- Empower local jurisdictions to take the lead in place-making, especially in town centers, shifting TRPA to a more-regional focus. Redefine the existing community plans in modern terms.
- Incorporate into park land use fees, the cost of more recycling and waste infrastructure, education and enforcement activities on public lands.
“Stewardship of forests / forest fuels management is important to all aspects of life in Tahoe—safety, prosperity, sustainability. In Tahoe we are pioneering the way that fire protection is done in the West. We need acknowledgement of the regional leadership Tahoe provides and continued support for getting treatments done in a good, responsible, effective way.” - Fire Chief John Pang
- Connect the next five years of the existing forest fuels management strategy to funding sources.
- Match Tahoe emergency response needs to funding sources for disaster and emergency response planning revenue sources.
- Recommit funds to ensure the continued operation of the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team.
- Compete for disaster and emergency response funds with designations corresponding to the actual number of people accommodated in the Basin, not the number of full-time residents.
“Give TRPA a leadership role and empower the agency to resolve conflicts that result from state or federal agency actions that are not conducive to the character of the Tahoe Basin.” – Madonna Dunbar, IVGID
- Support a policy of shifting the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency into a role of facilitator of regional government action; meanwhile support a policy of moving local government back into the role of local planner and enforcer.
“Seek agreement at Tahoe on a set of policies to control existing invasive species; meanwhile work regionally and nationally with partners to upgrade efforts to stop further spread in the West. Control of invasive species is conducive to stewardship action at all levels—individual, local, regional and federal.” - Michelle Sweeney, Tahoe Project
- Inhibit the spread of existing invasive species by agreeing upon and financially supporting a policy of action in the Tahoe Basin to address the issue of extant invasive species. Convene a discussion about policies available to local and regional entities that can slow the spread of, and help control, invasive species currently in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
- Decrease the risk of new invasive species introduction by stepping up the policy of cooperation with existing state and federal partners in the invasive species network to urge upgrades to existing federal and state mechanisms against the spread of invasive species between regions and states.
Help us transport people to and around Tahoe.
“Promote a different notion of transport. Don’t buy into the notion that we experience the Lake by viewing it from a traffic jam. Develop new patterns, new transportation systems.” – Ric Licata, LiCATA HANSEN Associates Architecture
- Seek a federal designation change for Tahoe Basin transportation funding that accounts for tourists and residents accommodated by transit in rather than as it is now – based on exclusively resident population numbers.
- Seek a designation with the US Forest Service (at the national level) that will increase funding for transit commensurate with numbers of tourists that access federal lands in the Tahoe Basin; acknowledge Tahoe as a recreation forest.
- Commission an update of analyses of the available mechanisms for transporting people to the Tahoe Basin from northern Nevada and California urban centers.
“We need to adopt a policy of aggregating opportunity with projects. Do everything that needs to happen in a particular place at once. Why not rip up a street once and do all of the work in that place (regardless of the agency) one time instead of tearing up the same street multiple times?” – Jacquie Chandler, Sustainable Tahoe
- Adopt a policy of interagency coordination of government action that goes beyond the collaboration we have today—a policy of interagency ownership of deliverables. This might be done by cross-staffing teams with representatives of different agencies; or perhaps by consolidating staff of diverse federal agencies in the Basin. (There is precedent in state disaster response protocols.)
- Support a policy of making a standard, publicly-available operations diagram for all government projects and making that diagram a public resource to facilitate navigation of the process and problem-resolution.
Coordinate urban infrastructure upgrades with redevelopment investment.
Also of note, Fire Chief John Pang underscored a much-discussed theme by saying, “Public safety needs to be intertwined with any and all of these policies.”
The above is not an exhaustive summary of the eight hours of discussion at the four sessions, but rather an overview of extensively-discussed topics. Many specific project ideas were proposed that are good subjects for future discussion. This week, join in the conversation about local, regional and federal policy that can help the Tahoe Basin by adding your suggestions or commenting below. You can also join the Tahoe Project conversation on Facebook. The annual Lake Tahoe Federal Summit will take place August 16th at Homewood Mountain Resort from 9-11:30am. Stewardship and Sustainability in Challenging Fiscal Times is the event theme. For the first time the Governors of both Nevada and California will simultaneously be present at the event. TART (Tahoe Area Rapid Transit) is providing transport to the event which is free and open to the public.
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Harry Reid
Governor Brian Sandoval
Governor Jerry Brown
Tahoe Project | Facebook
The Tahoe Fund
Tahoe Prosperity Center