Our View: New ideas for enhancing communities | SierraSun.com

Our View: New ideas for enhancing communities

Since its formation in 1969, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has endured decade after decade of criticism for being inflexible and bureaucratic.

But look today at the planning agency’s Community Enhancement Program and you will see surprising systemic limberness.

The program, which offers leeway in building heights and density for innovative development projects, has drawn a crowd both from developers hoping to be chosen and the community showing incredible interest in the process.

These are both good things. With a line up of developers putting their best environmental ideas forward, and an engaged community demanding the best projects, this program could truly do what is proposes ” enhance communities.

In Kings Beach alone, five projects are competing for the building incentives, such as a streamlined application process and the prospect of bonus units, that come with being dubbed a “Community Enhancement Project.”

This may be the only time five developers with innovative structural and environmental designs have rushed forward for a chance to redevelop properties in Kings Beach.

The ideas ” including zero runoff projects, affordable housing, a parking garage and mixes of housing, retail and office ” are now out on the table for the community to consider.

And more than 200 community members went out of their way to gather in Kings Beach to view the projects and speak their opinions.

This is a critical element for the success of the program. The community involvement is crucial to weed out the projects that may not meet the standard of “community enhancement.” And who else but residents to endorse projects that can truly help North Tahoe communities environmentally, economically and socially.

So far, the program has spurred enormous interest in redevelopment. It’s a great example of the public sector spurring the private sector to work toward solving some of the tough issues in the Tahoe Basin ” affordable housing, transit, vibrant downtown and environmental health.

But it won’t be a success until the process is complete, and the projects that truly benefit the community are on the ground and part of the solution.

So far we’re optimistic that the program can be a new, collaborative alternative to business as usual.

But it’s up to the community to take it the rest of the way.

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