No decision on lakeshore homes

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Homeowners and environmentalists agree a review system to determine the scenic impact of lakeshore homes needs more work.

The Governing Board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency on Wednesday listened to interested parties before it decided to push back until January its vote on a proposed scenic quality review system.

Board members said they want the system to be laid out more clearly than it is now so that everyone can understand it.

Tom Quinn, a board member appointed by Gov. Gray Davis, said the scenic system on paper looked like an IRS document.

"This is a full employment act for consultants and attorneys," Quinn said. "Most people won't have a clue what they can do."

The board also requested that its planning commission review the new draft of the system before it returns to them.

Staff members at the planning agency were exasperated by the board's decision after having held a mix of about 40 public meetings and presentations on its scenic system dating back to last winter.

The system has been presented to the board a number of times, first in July, but each time it had changed because of public input.

Juan Palma, agency executive director who put hundreds of hours of work into the proposal, has led the negotiations between parties.

Palma asked to push the vote back only until December, but environmentalists, Realtors and homeowners told the board they needed until January.

"That's fine. That's where the board wants to go," Palma said. "We have to get a resolution by then. We've got to get it concluded. We have to move on."

The scenic review system came as a recommendation in the 2001 Threshold Evaluation, a report released by the agency in December. The report, issued every five years, is meant to let people know which environmental goals are being met and which are not.

The report said scenic quality at the basin is an issue that must be addressed because it has been in decline since 1991.

"The extension is fine, with one provision: that the stake holders not become decision-makers that drive the process," said Michael Donahoe, conservation co-chair for the Tahoe Area Sierra Club.


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