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Thaw at Lake Tahoe

More than snow is melting in the Lake Tahoe basin this spring. A construction moratorium is about to be eased to allow the first new building in that Sierra Nevada region in 30 months. Three hundred new houses, and a few commercial projects, could be built during the coming season under a truce agreed to by warring parties in the long battle over the control of development at Lake Tahoe.

The truce is the outgrowth of negotiations begun last fall over a new Tahoe regional plan that will chart the course of the basin for the next 20 years. More than two dozen government agencies, development groups and environmental organizations have worked to resolve the legal and political impasse over the future of the bi-state region. The proposed revisions in the master plan will go to the California-Nevada Tahoe Regional Planning Agency for approval soon. If they are adopted, as they should be, they will guarantee that the basin will not just grow, but that it will grow better.

Developers went into the consensus-building process with a gun at their heads: a federal court ruling that the previous Tahoe plan did not provide the restrictions needed to protect the natural environment of the 500-square-mile basin and the water quality of the lake. The suit was brought by the League to Save Lake Tahoe and California Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp.

Development interests may not have liked the process, but they stuck with it. Keith Klein, president of a group of Tahoe home and lot owners, said that his members most certainly would not like some of the new restrictions. “But it’s a package deal--the good comes with the bad,” he said.

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Gov. George Deukmejian has given lip service to Tahoe problems, but the league and California attorney general’s office have done the real work of representing all Californians’ interests at Lake Tahoe. Their work is paying off.


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