TRPA No Longer Serves the Environment or “Us”


By Kristina Hill

TRPA has changed. I used to be a huge supporter of the agency, working there as the shorezone planner for four years in the early 1980s. But it’s gone from an environmental protection agency to a group that advocates for large development and major attractions in order to accommodate more people. Leadership members who were once environmentalists are now marketing experts.

Big projects such as the proposed Waldorf Astoria (Boulder Bay) have their permits extended indefinitely while the little guy with a lot line adjustment or garage addition has to reapply and pay all the fees a second time. With big projects the agency will go so far as to assist you with the environmental analysis, completing it for you. Little guy — no such luck.

TRPA will amend its regional plan (zoning) to help one wealthy developer achieve the maximum return on investment even though if the planners had done their homework (i.e., due diligence) they would have found it infeasible.


Changing not only the zoning of the developer’s parcel but also an entire area of a town center, allowing for multi-million-dollar condos in the commercial core with no analysis of cumulative environmental impacts is the definition of poor planning.

Another change at TRPA involves advocating for more “attractions” like the Tahoe East Shore Trail. These so-called improvements draw people from near and far, creating huge demands for paved parking areas, and resulting in more traffic, more litter, more dog waste, etc. More such trails are being planned — in places like Fallen Leaf Lake and other sensitive areas — that wreak havoc on roads, traffic, and parking.

If you have driven over Mt. Rose Highway lately, you’ll see miles of cars parked on the sides of the road winter and summer to utilize the new and improved trails such as the Flume and the Tyrolian Downhill.

Build it and they will come, regardless of the lack of parking or resulting impacts from vegetation removal and erosion from pedestrian and bike traffic.

These days TRPA seems more interested in obtaining funding through the legislatures, counties, and private investors to cover its costs in spinning justification for more, more, more. More transit, more attractions, more trails, more people, more multi-million-dollar condos, and more short-term rentals. There is consequently less workforce housing, less water quality improvements, less enforcement of existing violations. This new mindset results in the workforce having to drive from Carson, Reno, even Fernley, which creates yet more traffic resulting in more negative air and water quality impacts.

Gone are the days when decreasing water quality was a concern and a young family could buy a home. Hello to big out-of-town developers and skyrocketing real estate prices.

Please get involved and let your voice be heard. Go to TRPA meetings and see what’s in store. Governing board meetings are the fourth Wednesday of the month, starting at 9:30 a.m.

Coming up soon, governing board members will hear a proposal to amend the zoning of Incline Village’s entire town center, Special Area 1 (42 parcels), to allow luxury condos where workforce housing/mixed use should be. Our community deserves better. If approved, this will set a precedent for rampant condo development in other commercial downtown areas.

The item was set for the April governing board meeting but could be delayed until May because yet another contentious project (the Waldorf Astoria) will be going before the TRPA board in April. TRPA says it is becoming concerned about the negative effects of not allowing enough time for all the public comment. So, there are many big projects (e.g., Homewood ski area going private) and a lot of public pushback.

Be concerned, get involved, and raise your voice.

~ When Kristina Hill graduated from Chico State, she immediately went to work at TRPA with dreams of saving the lake. She’s gone from being a bureaucrat to lately becoming an advocate for the environment. The recent proposed amendments to the Placer and Washoe county area plans have kept her busy.


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