My Turn: League supports congestion, gridlock
The League to Save Lake Tahoe has been venerated as one of the premier environmental groups watching out for degradations to Lake Tahoe’s environment, including water quality. The group’s positions have been based on science and the attainment of environmental thresholds. Unfortunately the league’s decision to support one of the Kings Beach roadway alternatives over another has shown that the groups decisions don’t always reflect nonbiased science, and may be more representative of intercommunity circles which frequently promote their own self interests. A decision which poses dramatic affects on Kings Beach should be thoroughly, and justly analyzed.
Nearly everyone agrees that the water quality improvements for all the build alternatives in the Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project will significantly improve the environment. Both the four-lane and the two-lane option have some pros and some cons.
All the scientific documents provided by the county and presented in the Environmental Impact Statement and the Report (EIS/EIR) show that the two-lane alternative has many more negative impacts than that of the four-lane option. In fact, due to this undeniable fact, an unprecedented document of ‘Overriding Concerns’ must be approved by our governing agencies before the two-lane approval.
The league, irregardless of the long list of overriding concerns, chose to support the two-lane option, a modified version of the county’s Alternative 2. In doing so they sided an option that will divert vehicles through a residential neighborhood, increasing vehicular noise pollution and degrading safety. They support a plan which will congest our commercial corridor with gridlock traffic and a plan which will degrade our mass transit’s ability to operate timely, consequently increasing the communities’ dependency on the automobile.
Did the league compare all impacts and mitigation measures in the EIS/EIR in parallel between the two primary alternatives? Did the league analyze degradations to the environment stated clearly in the EIS/EIR? Did the league analyze impacts to the TRPA thresholds of air quality, noise, scenic, and land use identified in the EIS/EIR as necessary to some alternatives, but located “offsite” from the commercial core? The threshold analysis in the EIS/EIR was limited to within the narrowly defined project boundaries along the commercial core. Where is the documentation to support their position? In light of the Sierra Club’s neutral position how was the decision made by the League to Save Lake Tahoe?
The environmental impacts analyzed in the EIS/EIR included the TRPA thresholds, but only in the strict boundaries along the commercial core of Highway 28, not including the adjacent residential neighborhoods. Alternative 2 calls for a 40 percent reduction of that highway’s capacity and depends upon predictable highway traffic diversion cutting through the residential neighborhoods located outside the project boundaries. Also, the necessity of relocating over 100 parking spaces lost to lane reduction is not analyzed in the EIS/EIR because these additional spaces would be located “off site.” Ignoring environmental impacts does not make them go away. If the impacts shift to outside the project boundaries where no environmental analysis was done, then the analysis is incomplete.
The county staff- and board-endorsed analysis fails to acknowledge the full degradation of TRPA thresholds including air quality, noise, and scenic quality under the two-lane alternative.
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