Opinion: Lake Tahoe campground development deserves scrutiny
Special to the Sun-Bonanza
Let’s be clear about one thing. We all love camping.
But we all have a shared responsibility to carefully assess any major new proposal, from campgrounds to casinos, to make sure they don’t threaten the Tahoe Basin and the lake itself.
That’s why we wanted to engage the Tahoe community when we saw a proposal to locate an enormous 120-acre resort camping complex with nearly 100 RV pads, nearly 100 structures, and resort commercial development in a remote location on the north rim of Tahoe’s basin.
Tahoe has a regional plan with goals to reduce traffic and cut pollution from cars and trucks. The key idea is to concentrate Tahoe redevelopment in our town centers, leaving our more remote open spaces less developed. One hope is that more visitors can enjoy their stay in one of our towns, and be free to leave their cars parked and walk or bike to our beaches and restaurants.
Building the proposed 550-site Brockway Campground would shunt thousands of visitors to a destination miles from any of Tahoe’s town centers. This is about a lot more than camping. It’s about size and the real estate maxim: location, location, location.
READ MORE: Developer proposes 550-unit campground at North Tahoe ridgeline.
First, do you remember the last time any type of accommodation was proposed for Tahoe that included more than 500 units? Gaze south towards Stateline’s casinos built in the 1970s and 80s. Granted camping is a lot different from gambling. But, in terms of traffic, water usage, and other impacts on Tahoe, customers are customers.
Secondly, the corner of Tahoe proposed for Brockway is at the very margin of the Basin. To get anywhere else in Tahoe, visitors will be hopping back in their cars and adding to congestion on Highways 267 and 28. Just imagine the backups from Tahoe City to Incline Village.
North shore communities are already struggling to address traffic burdens. This is not merely about inconveniences for Tahoe locals and our other visitors from traffic gridlock. Increasing the amount of car trips and the distance that people are driving in the Basin adds pollution from our roads that threatens the clarity of the Lake.
Fortunately, there will be an opportunity for the public to weigh in on this massive project. TRPA will need to assess whether or not the proposal meets the stringent standards to be granted special use permission for an unorthodox development like Brockway, with its 12,000 square foot lodge and its equally large pool and pool house.
It remains to be seen if any resort development of this scale could be developed in this location and be in line with Tahoe’s goals to protect our natural resources and reduce traffic congestion. This is the perfect time for concerned members of the community to speak up and demand oversight of such a groundbreaking proposal.
Tell us your own concerns you can connect with us at our websites: mapf.org, sierrawatch.org, and keeptahoeblue.org. Our organizations will be watching closely to ensure that the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency performs its duties to scrutinize projects this size and keep us on track to protecting Lake Tahoe and the Basin’s environment.
Alexis Ollar is Executive Director of Mountain Area Preservation. Visit mountainareapreservation.org. Tom Mooers is Executive Director of Sierra Watch. Visit sierrawatch.org. Darcie Goodman Collins, Ph.D, is Executive Director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe. Visit keeptahoeblue.org.