The Community Enhancement Program (CEP) was promoted as a way to bring a new kind of develop-ment into the Tahoe Basin. Development that integrates community needs, environmental stewardship and economical benefits. But narrow agendas and short-term profits by individuals might be outweighing common sense in this process.
The evolution of the CEP has been orchestrated over a period of several years. The first step in this process began with Pathway 2007, in which an advisory group met to study, consider, and advise the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in updating the governing agency’s guiding principles for the Basin. The advisory group consisted almost entirely of government agencies and business interests. Four Place-based Working Groups, again heavily weighted toward government and business, developed a ‘commu-nity vision’ using public workshops.
As a consequence of the Pathway process, the CEP is designed to identify (and will approve) mixed-use development projects as the primary way to move the Basin toward attainment of environmental thresh-olds and socio-economic benefits.
However, Pathway 2007 produced principles and concepts, whereas the CEP projects are precedent set-ting. The incentives being offered to developers – commercial floor area, tourist accommodation bonus units, and multi-residential bonus units – are public entitlements from the TRPA, and local businesses and residents must live with the consequences. There must be open public review, with sufficient notice. Otherwise, the pressure from narrow agendas, the influence of propaganda, and short-term profits by individuals can outweigh common sense.
The CEP evolved from individual ‘demonstration projects.’ It was not envisioned nor anticipated that four projects would be proposed for a one-mile section of Route 28 in Kings Beach. The CEP process does not account for these cumulative impacts that will contribute directly to increased tourism. The en-vironmental improvements of the CEP may be overshadowed by the negative impacts of greater tourism, e.g. more traffic congestion, more environmental damage, greater demands for minimum-wage part-time employees, more workforce housing, and greater demands on community infrastructure. Fully implemented, these projects would have an over-development risk, including loss of local identity, loss of ownership control of commercial space, no further development of smaller buildings that enable or-ganic redevelopment.
On the West Shore, the Homewood Mountain Resort development was submitted as a CEP project. This development will significantly impact the scale and character of that community. The number of tourists will equal, if not exceed, the resident population. The increased traffic, parking, and community infrastructure demands will be detrimental to the Homewood community and its environment, for the benefit of an improved ski park.
Unlike the South Shore, the North and West Shores of Lake Tahoe are unique in that they have survived much of the pressures to urbanize and citify their commercial and residential areas. National Geographic Traveler expressed this further view, ‘South Lake Tahoe development is ghastly casinos, tacky hotels, and cheap condos.‘ The residents of the North Tahoe region cherish and relish the quiet, solitude, climate, beautiful vistas, Lake Tahoe, big trees, and wildlife. In addition, the personal attention of small, local businesses, the lack of congestion on the roads (most of the time), recreational and commercial areas, enhance the enjoyment of our National Treasure, Lake Tahoe.