My Turn: The significance of Nevada Senate Bill 271
LAKE TAHOE andamp;#8212; There has been, over the last several weeks, articles and comments concerning the passage of Nevada Senate Bill 271. The bill seeks, among other things, to reduce control of Tahoe Regional Planning Agency policy by a minority of board members, create deadlines for the completion of the long overdue regional plan and changes the burden of proof concerning court challenges of TRPA’s actions. Most importantly, SB 271 calls for Nevada’s withdrawal from the compact if these proposed changes are not made within certain time limits.For those that have opposed SB 271, their post-passage andamp;#8220;spinandamp;#8221; includes a call that we need to work together (but where have they been all these years?). They contend that amendments to the compact have occurred from time to time (so it’s no big deal). They also insist that the action by the Nevada Legislature was too extreme, that the threat of withdrawal is unfair and that it is time to have all andamp;#8220;stakeholdersandamp;#8221; (whoever they are) meet and confer about TRPA’s regulations.The comments by the opposition miss the point of the significance of SB 271 and are designed to minimize the efforts of the proponents.Certainly, the changes proposed by SB 271 are a good first step in trying to repair the decision-making procedure of the TRPA’s governing body and perhaps bring together more groups to reach a consensus regarding the future of the Tahoe basin. The opposition fails to acknowledge the mass injustices caused by TRPA to our citizens and our community.What is significant about SB 271 is that a grass roots movement made up of many different groups in the basin has been able, for the first time in 43 years, to push back against TRPA. TRPA needs to recognize that they are no longer insulated from the public’s opinion as to the reasonableness of their regulations and the manner in which they implement such regulations.The passage of SB 271 proves that disenfranchised groups can fight back. No more can TRPA rule with impunity while local governments and local citizens protest in the dark. The bill that was passed in Nevada Legislature, and signed by Gov. Sandoval, had wide bipartisan support and was passed with clear majority in both Houses. The city of South Lake Tahoe, Douglas County and Carson City supported the objectives of this Bill. Our Congressman, Rep. Tom McClintock, and State Sen. Gaines also expressed support of SB 271. A coalition has been established and our pattern of success can be repeated. To this end, Douglas County and the city of South Lake Tahoe are planning a joint meeting to discuss matters of mutual interest.I will not be satisfied if the TRPA continues to stumble around to complete the regional plan. I will not be satisfied if representatives from the California legislature and the governor’s office seek to delay changes or fail to actively open a dialogue in good faith with their Nevada counterparts about compact changes. Nor will I be satisfied if all discussions are held behind closed doors as they have been in past compact changes.I am excited about what has been accomplished and I am optimistic about affecting changes at the TRPA. Clearly, more work needs to be done. At the June 21 City Council meeting, the City Council created an ad hoc committee to directly work with representatives from the legislature and governor’s office on this and other issues. I also expect that the City Council will soon retain lobbyists to further these objectives.A balance between environmental and socioeconomic issues and serious consideration of local needs must become part of TRPA’s decision-making if it hopes to exist in the future.I can only hope that the California legislature and governor’s office recognize that the issues are not between the environment versus development, but that issues are between poor planning and smart planning.andamp;#8212; Bruce Grego is a South Lake Tahoe Council member.