November 10, 2011
The Tahoe Basin received $995,000 through a 2010 California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) sustainable communities planning grant to transform the Tahoe Basin into a model of regional sustainability. The grant application was ranked #2 out of 188 applications and was developed by a collaboration of regional and local agencies, and non-profits (Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Tahoe Metropolitan Planning Organization, California Tahoe Conservancy, Sierra Nevada Alliance, El Dorado County, Placer County, City of South Lake Tahoe and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association). Environmental Incentives facilitated the collaborative effort and led the development of the application.
The SGC-funded project capitalizes on a once in a generation opportunity to reshape the built infrastructure so that it increases ecosystem resiliency, enriches local communities and supports a prosperous economy.
The Need Is Clear
The Tahoe Basin is suffering from the impacts of poorly planned land use and transportation infrastructure. Scientific findings indicate that urban areas are the source of 72 percent of the fine sediment that has reduced lake clarity by more than 30 feet and threatens to further degrade water quality as climate change shifts precipitation from snow to rain. Further, strip commercial development from the 1960’s does not attract ecotourism or serve the needs of local communities. As a result, Tahoe’s economy began to decline long before the current recession, unemployment is currently between 15 and 17 percent, and the population of the California portion of the Tahoe Basin has decreased by 15 percent since 2000.
This Is the Time for Transformation
The Tahoe Basin can leverage timely opportunities. Urban areas built-out in the 1960’s are now on the verge of major turnover and local Tahoe communities overwhelmingly desire replacing strip mall development patterns with compact, walkable and transit-friendly communities. In addition, the TRPA Regional Plan Update currently underway seeks to integrate and encourage redevelopment as a means to achieve economic, community and natural resource goals.
The SGC-funded project is a regional collaboration that will provide sustainability tools for regional and local agencies, non-profits, the business community and local residents. The Lake Tahoe Sustainability Collaborative, a public and private partnership, will be established to lead the development sustainability tools and drive coordinated sustainability efforts through their organizations. The sustainability tools support stakeholders to develop economic incentives and climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. In addition, sustainability assessments and benchmarking framework will be developed to assist communities with integrating sustainability measures into their community plans.
Environmental Incentives Leading Sustainability Planning
A team of sustainability experts was selected through a Request for Proposal process to establish the Lake Tahoe Sustainability Collaborative and develop the sustainability tools for the Tahoe Basin. Environmental Incentives was selected to facilitate Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets to motivate jurisdictions and sectors in the basin to reduce GHG emissions, and develop regional sustainability performance measures and indicators to set and track progress towards regional and local sustainability goals. Environmental Incentives will assist with the development of transferrable development right (TDR) recommendations to incentivize restoration of the built environment currently impacting key natural resources. This includes creating economic incentives to transfer development into targeted areas that incrementally achieve regional and local sustainability goals. Further, Environmental Incentives will lead the development of the community-scale sustainability benchmarking framework that will assist local communities in setting measurable sustainability goals and incentivizing projects that achieve those goals.
Environmental Incentives will play an overall product manager role, tying together the products and tools led by our talented team. This project extends Environmental Incentives’ network of partners to include
This work builds on Environmental Incentives’ past success in climate adaptation planning and leverages our environmental and economic expertise. This project will enable us to build a performance-based structure to drive all aspects of sustainability in the Tahoe Basin.