(Lake Tahoe, Calif / Nev) – The North and South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce leaders at Lake Tahoe have joined together to launch a Region-wide public participation campaign to harness the groundswell of support for a new vision to restore and revitalize the Basin. Called TahoeFuture.org, the campaign will focus, over the next 8 months, on two critical land-use and transportation plans that create a blueprint for a revitalized Lake Tahoe. The overarching goal of these two plans, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Regional Plan Update and Regional Transportation Plan/Mobility 2035, is to restore Lake Tahoe. A key tool of the campaign is a website that will link community members to information that is simple, easy to understand and makes getting involved straightforward.
TahoeFuture.org is linked directly to the numerous efforts happening simultaneously around Lake Tahoe to chart a new direction that will more effectively integrate environmental restoration with community revitalization to create a brighter future for residents, second homeowners and visitors. This brighter future includes accelerated environmental restoration of the Lake and streams, a return to thriving community centers and a new model for economic prosperity. Driving this updated direction is the awareness that Lake Tahoe continues to suffer from damaging runoff and one of the worst periods of economic and environmental decline in its history. Additionally, without change, the Lake’s clarity and the future of the Region will remain in serious peril.
A Region in Decline: Recent scientific research confirms that 72 percent of the fine sediment and pollutants that continue to cloud Tahoe’s prized water clarity are the result of untreated runoff and pollution from its network of federal, state and local roadways and from its aging infrastructure and buildings. Much of the built environment in these areas was constructed well before today’s contemporary development and water quality standards were put in place. This environmental decline is tied to economic and community decline. The economic decline started in 1997 at Lake Tahoe and unemployment rates have averaged 16% for the past 3 years. Due to the loss of jobs and local services, families have opted to move. The result has been a 15 percent drop in permanent population (and still falling) and a sharp decrease in business levels. In 2011, the average occupancy rate for Lake Tahoe lodging properties – large and small combined – was 30 percent or less. In short, the outlook for long-term sustainability at Lake Tahoe, without a shift in direction, is grim.
The Path to a New Future for Lake Tahoe: There is a movement underway, all around Lake Tahoe to shift the future direction of the Region away from continued decline to one of environmental and human health, prosperity and sustainability. This movement is taking shape in many different forms,
some of it coordinated, some yet to be linked together, all of it aimed at fixing the mistakes of the past in order to achieve the goal of a healthier Lake Tahoe.
“There’s an energizing momentum going on in the Region to create an innovative blueprint for the future,” said B Gorman, CEO/President of Tahoe Chamber. “For the first time, we’re all coming together to bring back our economic well being and chart the path toward environmental improvements and community vitality,” continued Gorman.
Collaborative Efforts to Fuel the Path To A New Future for Lake Tahoe: Below is a look at some of the collaborative efforts going on simultaneously around Lake Tahoe to chart a brighter future:
A Blueprint for Innovative, Smart Land Use and Transportation Policy
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Regional Plan Update
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), a bi-state environmental agency, has released an updated draft of the Regional Plan, a long-range land-use blueprint aimed at restoring Lake clarity and supporting communities. Over the last several years, via the Place-Based Planning workshops and Pathways Forum, over 4,500 citizens provided input that ultimately guided the Regional Plan Update. The overarching objective of the Plan is to restore Lake Tahoe and deliver environmental gains through a host of policy changes such as incentives for environmental redevelopment and the removal of existing development from the most sensitive areas. Expected to be approved at the end of 2012, its innovative new approaches include: creating livable walkable town centers,
moving away from burdensome regulations that inhibit environmental redevelopment gains, and investment in efforts to clean up blighted areas that have contributed to economic and environmental decline over the past 30 years. As a foundation for this effort, TRPA will maintain the existing regional growth control systems that stopped the rampant overdevelopment that was a product of the 1960¹s and early 1970¹s.
A Blueprint for Connecting Communities and Stopping Pollution Impacts:
Regional Transportation Plan/Mobility 2035
In conjunction with the Regional Plan Update, the Tahoe Regional Transportation Plan/Mobility 2035 is also being updated to support the goals of improving Lake clarity and air quality by boosting alternative forms of transportation as well as reconfiguring communities to be more walkable. Highlights of the Mobility 2035 Plan include: implementation of 160 miles of new bicycle and walking trails, programs to catch sediment on approximately 78 miles of roads and garnering federal and state transportation investments.
A New Economic Model:
Lake Tahoe Basin Prosperity Plan
Completed in 2011, the Lake Tahoe Basin Prosperity Plan is a region-wide collaborative economic prosperity strategy for enhancing environmental quality and living standards for all residents. The Plan aims to move the Region away from a gaming and tourism only reliant model to one that focuses on three clusters: Outdoor Recreation-based Tourism; Health and Wellness; and Environmental Innovation. Currently, leaders are also working on region-wide ‘pillar initiatives’ to drive leadership, planning and policy, infrastructure, capital generation and economic development via the newly formed Prosperity Center. For more info: http://www.tahoeprosperity.org/
Local Leaders Studying Comparable Community Models For Inspiration:
Pathways to Prosperity Trek
Currently underway, the Trek is a leadership strategy to study other communities that have faced similar challenges and in response, have implemented smart, creative, collaborative solutions to turn their region around. Specifically, when Monterey and Livermore faced economic and community decline, local political and community leaders took bold steps to reverse this decline including the development of a new economy (geotourism and downtown revitalization) along with transportation and community improvements.
2012 Trekkers represent a diverse group of Tahoe Basin leaders across various sectors including tourism, science, government, transportation, economic, business, health care, and recreation. “The goal is to learn from the challenges and successes of Monterey and Livermore as we set Lake Tahoe’s future,” stated Sandy Evans Hall, CEO, North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.
Getting People Informed, Involved and Engaged:
Knowing that the only way to move this new vision and planning for Lake Tahoe forward, the two Chambers have joined forces to launch a public participation campaign called TahoeFuture.org.
“We really believe that the more the community gets informed and involved with these critical planning issues, the better the outcome will be,“ said Gorman.
“Lake Tahoe is at a pivotal point and we, as a Region, have the opportunity to create a path that will restore Lake Tahoe and bring back the vitality that we once knew in the Basin or, we can stand still, do nothing, and watch our beloved Lake and lifestyle sink further behind. It’s up to us and I strongly believe, by coming together, creating Plans based on the most up-to-date science, we can create a brighter future for Lake Tahoe,” stated Joanne Marchetta, Executive Director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
For more information, go to www.TahoeFuture.org