Lake Tahoe’s Regional Plan Update: TRPA staff, board discuss ways to refine process
LAKE TAHOE andamp;#8212; Adaptive management andamp;#8212; which means constantly adapting a management style to a constantly changing environment andamp;#8212; is a popular buzz phrase at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Usually, it refers to how the agency must adjust its policies as scientists provide new data from the field.However, TRPA staff and governing board members put adaptive management on display in the board room last Wednesday, and members voiced various suggestions on how to refine the Regional Plan Update process after completing the policy direction portion.While board members rolled out some sharp critiques of the process, they also recognized the work put in thus far by Harmon Zuckerman, director of the update, Executive Director Joanne Marchetta and TRPA staff.andamp;#8220;Don’t take these criticisms personally or as an assertion of failure,andamp;#8221; said Chairman Allen Biaggi. andamp;#8220;We appreciate all the hard work that went into the process.andamp;#8221;
However, some board members were critical of staff performing too much work behind the scenes. In her overview of the Regional Plan Update, Marchetta told the board staff was asked to provide policy direction only on items of contention that emerged during the stakeholder meetings, which preceded the board’s involvement. andamp;#8220;When staff was involved in stakeholder meetings and an intractable dispute emerged between stakeholders, staff brought the issue before the board to help tip the issue one way or the other,andamp;#8221; Marchetta said.Governing board member and Washoe County Commissioner John Breternitz said the board should have had input on which issues deserved board attention.andamp;#8220;How did staff identify which issues were controversial?andamp;#8221; he asked. andamp;#8220;What parameters were used? Some of the issues staff considered milk toast may have been controversial to the board. I am concerned that there is no structured way for the board to determine which items are controversial.andamp;#8221;Carson City Supervisor and governing board member Shelly Aldean agreed.andamp;#8220;I think the board feels left out to a certain extent,andamp;#8221; Aldean said. andamp;#8220;Stakeholders know more about implementation measures than the board does. I would consider it a dereliction of duty if I wasn’t thoroughly versed in all the implications of the Regional Plan Update.andamp;#8221;Breternitz also said he felt staff asked the board to analyze specific items without understanding the implications on the overall plan.andamp;#8220;Over the course of this process we dealt with 20 or 30 specific items,andamp;#8221; he said. andamp;#8220;In my mind, I want the overall goals and policies included to provide context.andamp;#8221;Marchetta said staff would supply the board with a narrative and technical document designed to highlight controversial as well as non-controversial items while providing an overarching context.
Mara Bresnick, the California Assembly Speaker’s appointee to the board, expressed confusion regarding the difference between policy direction and implementation direction.She further expressed concern the Draft Environmental Impact Statement will come prior to implementation discussion.TRPA Counsel Nicole Rinke agreed that once the DEIS is finalized, undertaking major revisions would mean a large discrepancy between the DEIS and Regional Plan.Marchetta said the timing was constructed that way so board members could have all the available details regarding the separate alternatives before making implementation decisions.El Dorado County Supervisor and governing board member Norma Santiago said she and her fellow board members would like an opportunity to review implementation policies prior to DEIS. However, Casey Beyer, the California Governor’s appointee to the board, cautioned that such a move would cause further delay in the process.andamp;#8220;We have a responsibility to the people we represent to get this done in as timely a matter as possible,andamp;#8221; he said.Ultimately, implementation policies will be included in the capstone document, provided to board members for review while the DEIS is being created.
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