Agency critic appointed to TRPA | SierraSun.com

Agency critic appointed to TRPA

Julie Brown
Sierra Sun
Emma Garrard/Sierra SunAssemblyman Tim Leslie is retiring this year.
ALL |

One of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s fiercest critics has been appointed to the board of the bi-state organization.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced yesterday his appointment of former California State Assemblyman Tim Leslie to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board.

With 20 years of service in the California Legislature behind him, Leslie will assume the seat left vacant last year after former Chair Julie Motamedi resigned.

“Tim [Leslie’s] strong background in public service greatly qualifies him to serve,” said Rachel Cameron, spokeswoman for the governor. “As well as his familiarity with the region itself.”

In his time representing Tahoe, Leslie became one of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s most vocal critics. In 2006, the then-assemblyman hosted a survey that gauged public sentiment of the TRPA. Results showed that 85 percent of respondents felt the bi-state agency needed to be held more accountable to the public.

In past opinion letters published in the Sierra Sun in 2005, Leslie asserted that the bi-state agency is a “prime example of this type of abusive government,” referring to what he called the agency’s unchecked operations.

“TRPA is a bi-state agency with a massive blanket of unaccountable bureaucracy layered over the top of otherwise elected and accountable units of government, with the objective of ‘protecting’ Lake Tahoe,” Leslie wrote.

Placer County Supervisor Bruce Kranz, who also sits on the TRPA governing board, said that Leslie will not be the only governing board member who is critical of the agency he serves.

“But now that he’s part of it, he can be part of the solution,” Kranz said. “I think there’s nothing wrong with that frankly. That’s one of the positive things I like about [Leslie]. He knows what the issues are.”

Kranz said he’s “ecstatic” about Leslie’s appointment, especially considering Leslie’s early dialogue about fire prevention.

“I’m particularly pleased because when we’re dealing with this wildfire issue, he’s the one who actually started talking about the issue,” Kranz said. “Now he’ll be there to help us.”

California State Senator Dave Cox also endorses Tim Leslie’s appointment to the governing board, said Nghia Demovic, the senator’s spokeswoman.

Leslie will bring with him a long list of achievements in the Lake Tahoe region, local officials said.

“Tim [Leslie] has been a tremendous elected official for our community,” said Cindy Gustafson, general manager of the Tahoe City Public Utility District, noting Leslie’s knowledge of local issues, interest in listening to the community and ability to find common sense approaches to solving problems.

“All the years he served with us he was very proactive and worked with all of us to help secure funding for projects that were important to us,” she said.

Working across party lines, Leslie was instrumental in the formation of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. The 66-year-old former Tahoe resident also saw that a North Lake Tahoe sign was erected on Interstate 80 near Sacramento. He voted for legislation that allowed special districts inside the basin to keep property taxes, found funding for Fanny Bridge in Tahoe City and secured $2 million for Commons Beach improvements.

In a written statement, TRPA Executive Director John Singlaub welcomed Leslie to the agency’s governing board.

“[We] hope to tap into his experience with the legislature and the capitol as we work together for the betterment of Lake Tahoe,” Singlaub said in the statement. “Mr. Leslie’s extensive experience and knowledge will help us achieve our goals and we are looking forward to benefiting from his continued public service.”