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Revised Martis West Plan a Win-Win?

TRPA and Placer County should adopt ridgeline and viewshed standards before it’s too late
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For the last 14 years I’ve been fortunate to call the North Shore my full-time home. But as a native Northern Californian, Tahoe has always been my backyard and I’ve enjoyed a lifelong connection with its natural beauty.

Over the years, I’ve sadly watched the character of the South Shore change. Now it’s happening exponentially on the North Shore, most noticeably because of urban sprawl in the Martis Valley. This Martis real estate explosion is in full force and creeping over the ridge into the Tahoe Basin, literally into my backyard.

Like many concerned residents, I’ve followed the plans of Mountanside Partners  (formerly East West Partners) to construct a gated community of 112 luxury homes and commercial amenities inside the Tahoe Basin. I was elated to hear that the developer had withdrawn its application to build on this unspoiled, mile-long swath of forested ridgeline above the Fiberboard Freeway. But, as they say, the devil is in the details.

Technically, Mountainside Partners’ application for the luxury ridgeline community has only been suspended, not terminated. Call me cynical, but what are the chances they will apply for a zoning change from forest conservation to resort recreation, which, among other things, would allow condominiums? And is the rumored campground with 800-plus RV, tent, and yurt sites, plus clubhouse, spa, pool, and deli any better? Either way, the ridgeline adjacent to the Tahoe Rim Trail will be destroyed, and the increased population density will create the very same noise/light pollution and traffic congestion problems that troubled residents about the developer’s original proposal.

Placer County’s General Plan and TRPA’s Regional Plan don’t have definitive guidelines for ridgeline development. I was disappointed to hear Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery say at her recent coffee meeting that the board of supervisors have had no appetite to take this issue on in the past. However, after hearing from constituents in attendance that day, I was heartened that she agreed to revisit the issue with the board.

Tahoe is a national treasure and once its character is altered, we can’t go back. Rather than trying to defend one ridgeline at a time, Placer County and TRPA need to step up and join the ranks of Sun Valley, Park City, and Aspen to adopt ridgeline and viewshed standards now.

~ Peggy Nicholas lives with her husband in Carnelian Bay. She’s a retired telecom industry manager who held various positions in external affairs and government relations.

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The Opinion Page is your place to spout off. This section contains letters to the editor and longer My Shot pieces. Also, the Spout features two bimonthly perspectives — In the Past, delving into Tahoe Truckee history, and In the Moment, an artistic musing of a moment today.

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March 8, 2018