Scope and Content
Title: Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1969-1976
Collection number: Mss200
Extent: 3 linear ft.
University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections
Shelf location: For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Collection is open for research.
[Identification of item], Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Collection, Mss200,
Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
The Lake Tahoe Basin is one of the world's most uniquely beautiful environments. High
alpine mountains surround a deep (1,645 feet) blue lake that is both quite large and
clear. This environment is so attractive that for fifty years it has been under intense
pressure to meet the demands of a mobile, recreation-seeking public. Different portions
of the lake lie in various political jurisdictions (five counties, two states, and
several special districts) and the need to balance development with environmental
protection was addressed for the first time as recently as 1969, when an act of Congress
created the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
The TRPA was mandated to "maintain an equilibrium between the region's natural endowment
and its manmade environment, (and) to adopt and enforce a regional plan of resource
conservation and orderly development..." It has three main branches: the Staff, the
Advisory Planning Commission, and the Governing Body.
The Staff is headed by an executive officer and is divided into administration, legal,
transportation, and planning units. This branch develops plans and ordinances for the
orderly development and use of the Tahoe Basin. The Staff present plans in draft form to
the Governing Body, which advises and directs Staff as to how these ought to be revised.
The Advisory Planning Commission includes the heads of all local planning and health
departments and about four lay citizens. At its monthly meetings, the APC reviews staff
recommendations, and makes its own recommendations to the Governing Body.
Only the Governing Body can adopt the plans and ordinances of the TRPA. Its membership
includes one representative from each of the five California and Nevada counties with
jurisdiction in the Basin (usually a county supervisor), one governor-appointed
representative from each state, the director of each state's natural resources agency, a
councilman from the city of South Lake Tahoe, and a non-voting representative appointed
by the President of the United States. No ordinance can be passed unless it is supported
by a majority of the five person delegation of each state.
The TRPA is financed by appropriations from local, state and federal sources. Each of the
five counties in the Tahoe Basin is required to appropriate $150,000 per year for the
uses of the Agency. The TRPA depends on local governments to enforce its ordinances since
the Agency lacks monies for its own inspection and enforcement system. According to the
TRPA's own assessment, local government has generally been willing to enforce TRPA
ordinances if it has the same form of regulation (for instance, low density zoning), but
less willing to enforce if it does not have the same kind of regulation (for instance, a
ban on signs attached to trees). In the past, the TRPA has brought suit against counties
that have approved development projects which violated its zoning ordinances.
The TRPA has aroused considerable controversy. At one time or another, landowners,
developers, local governments, conservationists, and even the State of California, have
all brought suit against the Agency. Some very basic questions about the Agency and its
role have never been fully answered: Shall the TRPA plan for the economic and social--as
well as the physical--environment of the Tahoe Basin; how can the Agency ensure that its
statutes are enforced; and, how can the TRPA adequately finance its activities?
Scope and Content
Most of this collection consists of printed matter generated by, or relating to, the
activities of the TRPA. It is arranged topically and includes: materials that treat the
history and structure of the Agency, copies of TRPA ordinances, drafts of a Tahoe Basin
General Plan, studies and reports on specific environmental topics, and background
materials on other locales used as planning models by the TRPA.