Monday, March 04, 2013

Bonanza Column 274 - Time to Repeal SB 271

A bill (SB630) has been introduced in the California State Senate by Senators Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) and Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) that, if enacted, could end the TRPA as we know it. While I realize that this would be welcomed in some short-sighted quarters, the impact could be disastrous for the lake and for residents of the basin.

My usual disclosure when I write about TRPA: While I did work for TRPA, I no longer have any administrative or management accountability there, though I am doing some training for the staff This column is intended to represent my views and my views alone, and not those of the agency or any of its staff or Governing Board.

Also, despite unfounded bloviating in a recent letter to the editor, I have no agenda with regard to TRPA. I do have, based on my experience there, profound respect and admiration for the commitment, integrity and expertise of those who work there.

The bill talks about California needing a contingency plan if Nevada goes forward with the provisions in its Senate Bill 271 which calls for the Silver State to withdraw from the bi-state Compact in 2015. SB271 was passed two years ago and was intended, as I understand it, to accelerate the process of updating the Regional Plan and to address what Nevada sees as inequities in the TRPA Governing Board voting structure under the Compact.

While the voting issue has not been addressed, SB271 had a major positive impact in that it did accelerate the RPU and in the process created a level of collaboration and cooperation between the two states that had not been seen before and that led to the near unanimous adoption of the Regional Plan in December.

There has been some talk in Nevada about repealing SB271 the current session, but the Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore lawsuit to prevent the Regional Plan Update from taking effect could make Nevada leery of a repeal that they might see as premature.

The California bill states that “for California to have due time to protect its many interests in the Tahoe basin, the state will need to have a contingency plan in place prior to the dissolution of the bi-state Compact, as contemplated by Senate Bill 271.”

It goes on to say, “The bill would revise the membership of the governing body of the agency to eliminate the existing five members of the governing body, and prescribe requirements for the appointment of a new nine-member governing board. The bill would also revise the composition of a technical advisory committee required to be appointed by the agency, and would request the participation of a representative of the governing board of the Nevada Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. The bill would eliminate a provision authorizing the governing body of the agency to contract with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency for services.”

In other words, there would be two TRPAs — one in California and one in Nevada — the exact opposite of the bistate collaboration that has taken place over the past couple of years, and no single body accountable for the environment of and around the lake. Kind of like when two outfielders go for a fly ball and it drops between them.

TRPA makes decisions, recommendations, and judgment calls that, unfounded bloviating to the contrary, are driven by the best available science and the commitment of its Governing Board and Staff to the sometime conflicting demands of the environment, the social milieu, and the economy of the Basin. The air, water, wildlife, and vegetation of the basin don't recognize the CA-NV state line. The Federal Government recognized this in setting up the TRPA, and even the most benighted intelligence should recognize it now.

The Nevada Legislature should do the right thing — they made their point, and made it well and effectively. Now it's time to repeal SB271 so we can all rest a bit easier.-->

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