New Tahoe agency director works to build bridges | SierraSun.com

New Tahoe agency director works to build bridges

Sara Thompson
Sun News Service

Jim Grant / Sun News ServiceTahoe Regional Planning Agency Executive Director Joanne Marchetta addresses Douglas County commissioners on Thursday afternoon.

LAKE TAHOE ” Less than two months after taking the helm of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Executive Director Joanne Marchetta set out Thursday to forge partnerships with various South Shore entities.

Marchetta’s rounds began at 8 a.m. at the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce board meeting.

“This basin is at a crossroads where we’re entering into a new era,” Marchetta said. “In order to build our successes, we can’t engage in business as usual.”

Her next stop was a 1:30 p.m. meeting of the Douglas County Commission, which took place at the lake in Stateline.

Commissioners said they appreciated Marchetta’s efforts to reach out.

“Tahoe has a lot to offer, and I am hoping that the TRPA is committed to the economic stability of the region,” Commissioner Michael Olson said.

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But perhaps Marchetta’s toughest challenge was a 6:30 p.m. Sierra Club meeting that she was scheduled to attend. The group is in litigation with the TRPA over the update to the shorezone ordinances.

Her remarks were expected to include a call for finding areas of agreement between the TRPA and the environmental group. The club’s reaction to her comments remained to be seen.

At the chamber of commerce meeting, Marchetta said she was introducing a more accessible TRPA, and was there to let people know who she is and where the agency is headed, she added. Marchetta plans to meet with the South Lake Tahoe City Council, all the county representatives, chambers of commerce and other organizations that have a vested interest in the lake.

The TRPA has prevented rampant development at Lake Tahoe, and implemented an Environmental Improvement Program, Marchetta said. Now, she said, the population base in the Tahoe basn is diminishing, the infrastructure is aging and the economic base is shrinking, Marchetta said.

The TRPA’s role for the future needs to be stronger and more effective, Marchetta said.

“I want to put planning back into the name, not to simply enforce codes,” Marchetta said.

LTSSCC Board President Patrick Atherton said he appreciated Marchetta’s tone, and looked forward to working together. The chamber’s participation in the regional plan update also has been positive.

“It’s rewarding for the business community to know we’re an integral part of the process,” Atherton said.

The chamber board listened to a presentation on aquatic invasive species, such as the quagga and zebra mussels, made by Ted Thayer, TRPA’s natural resources and science team leader.

Thayer described the boat-inspection process for the summer, and efforts to get the word out to boaters about the inspections.

So far the plan includes television commercials, radio time, newspaper advertisements and information posted on boating association Web sites.

LTSSCC board member Carl Ribaudo asked what the TRPA has learned from previous experiences, such as the Eurasian water milfoil invasion into the Tahoe Keys about a decade ago, that they’re applying to the quagga and zebra mussels problem.

Marchetta said the TRPA took the lead on this situation, and Thayer has brought other organizations together to come up with solutions.

Chamber members also provided their marketing insight and ideas to help get the word out to potential visiting boaters this summer.

In Nevada, boaters receive their registration by mail in the fall, LTSSCC board member Gary Midkiff said. Fliers could be put in those envelopes for Nevada and California boater registration forms.

LTSSCC President Betty “B” Gorman suggested distributing information to the South Shore visitors centers and state centers. The information should be posted on state visitor centers’ Web site because that’s where many people start planning their trips, she added.

At the Douglas County Commission meeting, Commissioner Nancy McDermid said it’s important for the TRPA and all the jurisdictions to pull together.

McDermid, who also is on the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority Board, said the South Shore needs to work together as a whole on both sides of the state line.