My Turn: A look into the North Tahoe community plan process, Part 2 |

My Turn: A look into the North Tahoe community plan process, Part 2

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a four-part opinion series from Marguerite Sprague about ongoing efforts by Placer County and community members with the Tahoe Basin Community Plan Update. Read Part 1 here.

This is Part Two of a four part series of articles about the Tahoe City Planning Committee’s work, part of the Placer County Planning Process currently under way. The article is written from the perspective of one committee member and is not intended to represent Placer County opinions nor the opinions of any other committee members.

Last week’s segment provided an overview of what the committee is and is not, and what it is and is not directed to do by Placer County. This week’s segment picks up answering questions committee members have been asked by local residents.

Doesn’t TRPA control all these issues? “Yes and no” was the answer I got from both County and TRPA staff.

All of us on the committee were strongly urged to take a look at Chapter 13 of TRPA’s Regional Plan Update. That chapter deals with Community Plans and how they relate to TRPA.

I did my homework, and picked up a copy from the stack set out for attendees at the public planning meetings. It’s not exactly scintillating: I can’t recommend it for bedtime reading. But it is important for the planning committees.

It’s long, chock full o’ acronyms, and lays out the game rules for community plans. The layers of rules —Placer County’s and TRPA’s taken together—are like a game of Rochambeau (a.k.a. Rock-Scissors-Paper) among authorities in the Tahoe Basin.

To sum it up, TRPA lays out the maximum parameters for community plans; community plans can set whatever guidelines they want as long as they stay within those parameters.

If a plan goes outside those parameters, TRPA will disqualify the plan. Clearly, it’s important that each committee know what those parameters are. We don’t want months of work to be tossed out because we didn’t know the rules.

Chapter 13 doesn’t specify the details of the parameters but lists where they are (in legalese documents most of us aren’t familiar with). We’ve asked Placer County to provide us with those details.

At this moment, the Tahoe City planning committee is waiting to get the specifics of those TRPA parameters from Placer County.

What’s up with all the acronyms? This work rivals the lingo of twitter and facebook what with all the TRPA, RPU, TMDL, ASAP — it’s Alphabet Soup (LOL!).

The main ones we’re dealing with so far are: TRPA (Tahoe Regional Planning Agency), RPU (Regional Plan update), TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) and BMP (Best Management Practice) as well as zoning types (e.g., MU = Mixed Use).

What is this “Vision Plan” everyone’s talking about? I first saw the “Vision Plan” before our committee’s work began, at a public meeting advertised on signs in town.

It was interesting but confused me: it appeared to be the same as what I thought the committee was supposed to do, but we had not yet met. Later, at another public meeting, this Tahoe City Visioning effort was explained more fully.

The document — which technically is not a plan but more of a “what if” illustration — was created by consultants, hired by a group of Tahoe City property owners along with the Tahoe City Public Utility District and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.

They invited the public to review their first draft and submit suggestions, then took all the input to create the final document with sketches to illustrate those ideas. They had roughly 120 participants in workshops and presentations last May and June. The whole enchilada is the document, “Tahoe City Town Center Visioning Options.”

More than 100 people attended the September public meeting to discuss the document, and shortly thereafter the document was given to the committee, to consider as types of possible improvements to the town center.

We will consider them, just as we will consider any respectful input, because it makes sense to do so. The document is helpful because it contains specific recommendations and opinions of so many Tahoe City people. Of course, we are happy to hear from other citizens as well.

You can see The Tahoe City Town Center Visioning Options document at: or

It’s interesting to note that most people we have heard from to date are in general agreement with the ideas in this plan: No one yet has had an opinion that is dramatically different from either the Tahoe City Town Center Visioning Options or the concepts the committee has discussed so far. I’m not saying they’re not out there, just that we have not yet heard from them.

Tune in next week for Part Three: Where the Rubber Meets the Road.

Marguerite Sprague is executive director at the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society and a Tahoe City Planning Committee member. She can be reached for comment at

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