TRPA director on the hot seat |

TRPA director on the hot seat

Sierra Sun photo illustrationJohn Singlaub, executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, said he is optimistic about his upcoming review, which will evaluate his performance in the 2006-07 fiscal year.

Fire ravaged the Tahoe Basin in 2007 and lake clarity continued to decline, even as the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency pursued its most ambitious planning projects.Those are a few of the years events that members of the bistate agencys governing board will have in mind when it conducts an annual review of Executive Director John Singlaubs job performance.Singlaub will ask the board for a modest raise after piloting the agency through one of its most demanding and controversial years. The review is scheduled for the next governing board meeting on Wednesday at the North Tahoe Conference Center in Kings Beach.After a public backlash against the agency following South Tahoes devastating Angora Fire in late June, a few board members said they would evaluate Singlaubs performance largely on how the agency has dealt with streamlining permitting for fire prevention.I dont mean to pick on John, but I would have liked to have seen more interest in [fire] before it became a disaster, said Placer County Supervisor Bruce Kranz, who sits on the agencys 15-member governing board. Now its starting to work. Im happy with whats going on.Board member Coe Swobe said he thought Singlaub dragged his feet on fire-prevention issues. Im very disappointed with his performance in that area, Swobe said.Board Vice Chair Allen Biaggi wouldnt comment on Singlaubs performance before the review, but acknowledged that the administrators job is no easy task.I think the executive directors job is extremely difficult, no matter who has it, he said. They have to balance the environmental considerations of Lake Tahoe, the social considerations, the economic considerations.Singlaub said he is optimistic about the upcoming review, which will evaluate his performance during the 2006-07 fiscal year.I always think that I can do better and the agency can do better, Singlaub said in a phone interview. But I think were focusing on priorities and trying to get some things accomplished.Avoiding catastrophic wildfire is the agencys No. 1 priority, Singlaub said. In the aftermath of the Angora Fire, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is looking to improve its policies to encourage residents to create defensible space and clear the way for fire prevention.We dont want to be reacting in a knee-jerk fashion, Singlaub said. Well think these through.But the agencys staff also have their hands full updating the agencys 20-year regional plan and code of ordinances. The governing board is also on the verge of approving the controversial Shorezone Ordinance amendments to regulate piers, buoys and other shoreline structures around the lake.Implementing the direction given him by the 15 local, state and national officials who sit on the governing board is challenging at times, Singlaub said.Im trying to serve the board as a whole and to get to the issues that the whole board wants to work on, he said. There are a lot of agreements and a lot of disagreements about what those should be. Kranz said he thought Singlaub could generally give more consideration to the boards wishes.An executive officer needs to understand what the boards desires are, he said.The review will give board members a chance to share constructive feedback, said agency spokesperson Julie Regan. The staff will summarize a survey of the public, agency employees and the board about Singlaub, and present the results in an executive summary.Despite the public setting, Singlaub said hes hoping for candid discussion about his performance and what he can do to improve. Singlaub said he will be asking for a 2.9 percent raise from his $129,168 annual salary, the same percent increase given to agency staff in July to cover rising cost of living.TRPA legal counsel Joanne Marchetta will also receive a performance review by the governing board at the November meeting. But her review will be conducted in closed session, since the statute requiring public job reviews only applies to the executive director or chief officer of a state public agency.

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