TRPA has faced controversy since the beginning

Peas and carrots.

Peanut butter and jelly.

Controversy and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Some things just go together.

Long before President Richard Nixon approved the compact that created the TRPA on Dec. 18, 1969, protection of a lake spanning five counties and two states was a contentious issue.

Matters such as proposals to build a four-lane highway bridge across the mouth of Emerald Bay, an increase in the number of visitors to the Lake Tahoe Basin in the mid-1960s, and unchecked development and the environmental degradation it brought, fueled discussion of an agency with the ability to regulate the lake's various jurisdictions.

"The only way we can get the job done is through a bistate agency," Coe Swobe told the Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce in 1967. "Polluted water does not respect county or state boundaries."

A TRPA Governing Board member since 2001, Swobe was Nevada Gov. Paul Laxalt's special assistant on the formation of a bistate agency at the time.

The agency faced budget challenges in its formative years, including a California withdrawal in 1978-79 because of representatives' view that Nevada members were too pro-development.

By 1980, California returned to the TRPA, and the agency set about adopting a 20-year regional plan.

Presented to the agency's board in 1984, adoption of the plan took three years, in part because of a lawsuit brought by California Attorney General Jon Van de Kamp and the League to Save Lake Tahoe.

A building moratorium was put in place while modifications to the regional plan were made and the suit eventually was settled out of court.

Today, the agency faces similar challenges.

A regional plan update, started in 2001, was scheduled for completion in 2007. An update to the plan now is expected for approval in 2009.

The TRPA most recently delayed an update to the plan in order to develop a preferred alternative with "broad support," according to TRPA spokesman Dennis Oliver.

"We think it prudent to spend time now talking to interested parties in the conservation community and others in the hope that a consensus plan alternative might be developed on the front end," Oliver wrote in an e-mail.

A moratorium on pier construction also has been in place on two-thirds of the lake since 1987.

Updated shorezone ordinances to regulate development in and near the lake are expected to come before the board this summer.


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