New Nevada bill would thwart divorce of Tahoe planning agency

Adam Jensen

LAKE TAHOE — Nevada legislators introduced a bill Monday to repeal an effort to pull the state out of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

The Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs introduced Senate Bill 229 on Monday. The bill would completely repeal 2011’s Senate Bill 271, which threatens to pull Nevada out of the bistate planning agency in October 2015 if certain changes to the agency aren’t made. SB 271 authorizes Nevada’s governor to postpone the withdrawal until October 2017 under certain circumstances.

One of the most significant changes sought by SB 271 was the passage of an updated regional plan guiding development and land use throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The TRPA’s Governing Board passed its Regional Plan Update in December. The Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore sued to block the plan’s implementation last month. The environmental groups believe rules in the new plan will not accomplish TRPA’s environmental goals and will cause a new era of over-development at the lake. Proponents of the RPU contend the new rules will help ease burdensome restrictions on basin residents and businesses, while helping advance protection of Lake Tahoe.

The League to Save Lake Tahoe and Nevada Conservation League have urged legislators to repeal SB 271, especially in light of the RPU’s passage. Maintaining TRPA’s Compact is key to protecting the lake, according to the groups.

“Although the passage of SB 271 was a black eye for Nevada, we are committed to make sure that it does not result in the destruction of the Tahoe Planning Compact and the health of the lake,” the Conservation League wrote in a statement this week.

In December, Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, a supporter of SB 271, said he would favor repeal of the legislation if TRPA passed its RPU and the plan did not face a court challenge. Miller was not immediately available for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, who sponsored SB 271, said the environmental group’s challenge to the RPU shows the need for the legislation to continue.

“Obviously to me the lawsuit proved that SB 271 still needs to be in play,” Settelmeyer told The Associated Press.

California legislators introduced a bill last month that would resurrect the California Tahoe Regional Planning Agency if Nevada pulls out of the TRPA. SB 271 includes the creation of a Nevada Tahoe Regional Planning Agency if the state pulls out of the TRPA.

A hearing date for Senate Bill 229 has not been set. The first court date in the environmental group’s challenge to the RPU is also yet to be scheduled.

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