Opinion: Dear Obama — protect Tahoe from shoddy development plans
August 25, 2016
The following is an open letter to President Barack Obama:
We're delighted to learn of your plans to participate at the 20th Anniversary Lake Tahoe Summit on August 31.
There isn't a more perfect backdrop for delivering your critical message, or a national treasure in more need of protection — right now.
In the recent "State of the Lake" report, scientists project that Lake Tahoe is locked into decades of warming due to climate change.
“There’s much more at stake here than developer profit and county tax revenue. We aren’t asking for no development, just reasonable and appropriate development.”
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Despite this dire warning, traffic gridlock exists at multiple locations around the lake amid citizen outcry; first responder concerns abound about loss of life in the event of a wind-driven wildfire or other emergency evacuation; and development continues to run unchecked around the lake and adjoining areas.
And seemingly, no one is considering the cumulative regional affects.
Here are just a few examples of over-scaled and/or inappropriate projects in the pipeline in our backyard:
Village at Squaw Valley
The 1960 Winter Olympics site is proposing to add 1,400+ bedrooms, numerous 96-foot-tall buildings, and a 90,000-square-foot facility containing a water park.
On August 11, county planning commissioners voted to recommend approved of the final Environmental Impact Report, despite California Attorney General Kamala Harris' comments for the record that the EIR failed to adequately analyze greenhouse gas emissions, traffic and impacts on the lake.
This project would add 8,410 new daily car trips to North Tahoe's existing gridlock in the summer, with many of those cars (1,353) heading into the Tahoe Basin. It next goes to county supervisors.
Martis Valley West Parcel Specific Plan
A 760 unit luxury home development plus commercial amenities atop one of Lake Tahoe's iconic ridgelines, mimicking the Martis Camp development in Northstar.
This project would add 3,985 daily car trips to existing traffic congestion spanning between the town of Truckee and Tahoe's north shore. County planning commissioners voted to recommend denial of this project, and it goes before county supervisors for consideration on September 13.
A 550-unit "glamping" experience adjacent to the Martis Valley West project (above), with 6.6 acres of commercial (a market, swimming pool, clubhouse, guest services, etc.) proposed within the Tahoe Basin boundary line.
This project will expand the urban boundary to an area currently logged by Sierra Pacific Industries. The project is asking for an unprecedented zone swap. It would add hundreds of new daily car trips to the mix.
Tahoe City Lodge
An over-scaled 40-room hotel/78-unit condo project. These 118 units would sit on 1.4 acres. Only 56 units would be allowed by today's Tahoe Regional Planning Agency code.
PLATITUDES, NOT RESPONSIBLE PROGRESS
Many organizations are working diligently to protect/restore Lake Tahoe, and you will hear much about their efforts at the summit. But in the end, these will only be platitudes if real action isn't taken to stem uncontrolled development and the resulting affects.
There's much more at stake here than developer profit and county tax revenue. We aren't asking for no development, just reasonable and appropriate development.
You, Mr. President, have the power to shine a bright light on these and other inappropriate projects to come before it's too late. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) owns a Tahoe home.
We're banking on the fact that she loves Tahoe as much as its other residents and hundreds of thousands of annual visitors, and will join forces with the community to promote appropriate development in order to protect this national treasure for generations to come.
Fred and Marice George
2nd generation North Tahoe homeowners
cc: The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
Fred and Marice George have owned a cabin in Cedar Flat at North Lake Tahoe since 1950. Their full-time residence is Lafayette, Calif.