SB630 in Calif. heads to governor’s office |

SB630 in Calif. heads to governor’s office

Eric Heinz

A bill that re-solidifies California’s stake in development regulations at Lake Tahoe is now in the hands of Gov. Jerry Brown.

Senate Bill 630 passed unanimously 37-0 last week in the state assembly. The bill is series of amendments to Lake Tahoe’s bistate compact, which recognizes the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency as an entity governing Tahoe Basin development, environmental laws and procedures between Nevada and California.

Changes in the Regional Plan Update, which dictates the actions governed by TRPA, were challenged by a lawsuit from the Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore in February after the agency’s governing board OK’d the update last December.

In June, U.S. District Judge John Mendez dismissed the argument that TRPA’s transfer of some authority to local jurisdictions violates the TRPA Compact. The bulk of the lawsuit has yet to be ruled upon.

All that’s left for SB 630, however, is the governor’s signature for California law to recognize the revised standards.

According to recent analysis of the bill, developers in Nevada argued the 1987 Regional Plan Update’s land-use and environmental regulations were too restrictive.

The bill was established in the wake of Nevada’s Senate Bill 271. Introduced in 2011, it threatened to withdraw the state from the bistate compact as early as 2015 if California legislators did not agree to specific changes.

After an agreement between Brown and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, the Nevada legislature adopted Senate Bill 229 in June in support of the new development terms.

Part of SB 630 “creates the Lake Tahoe Science and Lake Improvement Account, which will be funded by rental income from surface uses for public trust lands at Lake Tahoe,” according to the analysis.

TRPA currently runs on a $14.7 million budget, according to the bill, with California contributing $4.1 million, Nevada contributing $1.3 million and federal funding contributing $6.6 million. The rest is from miscellaneous sources.

The bill also places the burden of proof on any party that challenges TRPA, and mandates that the Regional Plan Update reflect “economic considerations in the Lake Tahoe Basin,” according to the legislation’s analysis.

Changes to the bistate compact must be ratified by U.S. Congress in order to have legal standing.

According to previous reports, Earthjustice, Friends of Tahoe Vista, North Tahoe Preservation Alliance, the Tahoe Area Sierra Club and Sierra Club California are listed as opponents to the bill.

Tahoe Area Sierra Club President Laurel Ames said the group’s largest concern is the bill does not thoroughly address turbidity (water clarify) and particulates that may go into the lake as a result of development, as well as various other environmental standards.

The League to Save Lake Tahoe last week echoed past sentiments in support of the bill to keep TRPA as the main regulator of the Lake Tahoe Basin.

“This legislation was always about preserving one regulator at Lake Tahoe,” league director Darcie Goodman-Collins said in a statement. “Without the TRPA, we risked having different environmental ordinances and regulators in each of the two states, five counties and one city that share the lake.”

The Nevada Conservation League also supports the bill.

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