Sustainability Framework

The Lake Tahoe Region is subject to a unique bi-state compact approved by California and Nevada, and ratified by the United States Congress. The regional and local (i.e., area) level plans that are enabled and required by this legislation (i.e., formal plans) are two of the four main components of the sustainability framework.  The other two main components of the framework, Sustainability Action Plan and Related Plans and Projects, are not required (i.e., informal, often non-regulatory mechanisms). These four components, how they interact, and how stakeholders are involved in the sustainability framework are described below.


Sustainability Framework Components

The four components of the sustainability framework are as follows:

  • Regional Plan – the Lake Tahoe Regional Plan adopted as required by the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact (P.L. 96-551). It includes goals and policies, the regional transportation plan and sustainable communities strategy, the water quality management plan, the final EIS mitigation measures and Code of Ordinances.
  • Area Plans – city and county plans adopted pursuant to California Planning and Zoning Law (Government Code 65000-66037) or Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 278,  and found in conformance with the Regional Plan.
  • Sustainability Action Plan (a.k.a., Climate Action Plan) – recommendations evaluated by the Collaborative and provided to stakeholders to act upon to address greenhouse gas reduction, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and sustainability.
  • Related Plans and Projects – plan recommendations, projects, and programs initiated and/or advocated by other parties (e.g., Bureau of Reclamation recommendations on sustainability from the Truckee River Basin Study, Forest Service sustainability policies in the Forest Plan, Lake Tahoe Basin Prosperity Plan economic development policies, etc.).


Interaction of Sustainability Framework Components

The formal plans (i.e., Regional Plan and Area Plans) have very well-defined processes and procedures for preparation, adoption, and amendment. These processes and how they interact are shown on the following graphic.

The Regional Plan must address certain topics, must be updated periodically, is subject to environmental review and mitigation, and these changes must be made through formal public processes. These requirements are well defined in the Bi-State Compact, the Regional Plan policies, the Code of Ordinances, and applicable environmental impact mitigation measures. In accord with the Regional Plan implementation policies, the TRPA Governing Board annually reviews monitoring data, reports, and other information to establish priorities for updating the Regional Plan. In addition, there is a time frame for completion of environmental mitigation measures. This annual regional level process is depicted by the top loop in the diagram below.  The Regional Plan includes many sustainability measures (see Sustainability Action Plan Background document which is part of the Lake Tahoe Sustainable Communities Document Series). Additional measures can be recommended for inclusion in the Regional Plan through this ongoing process and public meetings.

The Regional Plan and Code of Ordinances also establish the framework for Area Plans and associated code to be created and maintained by local jurisdictions in the Lake Tahoe Region (see Area Plan Framework document which is part of the Lake Tahoe Sustainable Communities Document Series).  As the middle loop on the following graphic shows, an amendment to the Regional Plan or Code of Ordinances may require an amendment to an Area Plan and/or associated code. The Regional Plan allows a one-year period for this to occur (bottom loop). Once adopted and found to be in conformance with the Regional Plan, the Area Plan and/or code become part of the Regional Plan and/or Code of Ordinances.

updated sustainability graphic

Like the Regional Plan, the Area Plans are reviewed on an ongoing basis. In some cases the appropriate local government may decide it is necessary to amend an Area Plan. This is completed through well-defined processes and procedures as dictated by the Bi-State Compact and either California Planning and Zoning Law or Nevada Revised Statutes. These processes include publicly noticed meetings of the local government planning commission and governing body, as well as other meetings determined by that local government. Additional sustainability measures can be recommended for inclusion in Area Plans through this ongoing process and public meetings.

The Sustainability Action Plan prepared independently of the Regional Plan and Area Plans, addresses greenhouse gas emissions reduction, as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. As this plan is prepared and updated, recommendations for sustainability measures that can be included in the Regional Plan or Area Plans may be identified. These recommendations can be made through the ongoing Regional Plan and Area Plan processes, and also may inform Related Plans and Projects.

Related Plans and Projects include all plans that address environmental sustainability (e.g., Truckee Basin Study, Forest Plan, etc.), economic sustainability (e.g., Lake Tahoe Basin Prosperity Plan), and community sustainability. Sustainability projects include projects and programs identified in these plans, as well as those conceived and advocated by one or more stakeholder groups in the Region. Related Plans and Projects may be incorporated into the Regional Plan or an Area Plan through those respective ongoing planning processes, and also may inform the Sustainability Action Plan.


Stakeholder Involvement

The graphic below depicts the full range of options for stakeholder groups to be involved in the components of the sustainability framework. This framework recognizes that achieving sustainability will require an unprecedented level of collaboration between regional and local, formal and informal, and public and private efforts.

The following examples better illustrate this concept:

● Greenhouse Gas Reductions from New Buildings – The Regional Plan Environmental Impact Statement identified the need to mitigate the potential increase in greenhouse gas emissions from new buildings. The greenhouse gas emissions inventory, which is an important source of background information for the Sustainability Action Plan, indicates that the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the Lake Tahoe Basin is from fuel combustion to heat buildings. By establishing minimum energy efficiency standards for new buildings in the Lake Tahoe Basin, the necessary mitigation measure will be put into effect through Area Plans and part of the desired reduction in greenhouse emissions identified in the Sustainability Action Plan will be achieved.  This is part of both formal (Area Plan) and informal (Sustainability Action Plan) planning efforts, and involves a number of stakeholder groups ranging from individuals (e.g., homeowners) to government organizations (e.g., local government building officials).

● Development Commodities Policies – The changes in policies related to transfer and conversion of development commodities are of interest to a number of stakeholders including businesses, non-government organizations, and government organizations. Through the Tahoe Prosperity Center, all three of these stakeholder groups are meeting together to address these policies. The results will be important for both informal planning efforts (Sustainability Action Plan, economic development incentives strategies and implementation of the Tahoe Basin Plan for Prosperity) and within formal planning efforts (Regional Plan pilot tourist accommodation conversion policy and possible new policies).

This sustainability framework, which recognizes and embraces plans and projects that in the past may have been viewed as unrelated or conflicting, represents a change in the planning and implementation paradigm necessary for the Lake Tahoe Region to successfully pursue sustainability.

sustainability framework graphice