Survey: TRPA gets low marks from Tahoe homeowners

  • Monday, November 11, 2013

LAKE TAHOE, Nev. — Well over half of homeowners in the Lake Tahoe Basin with experience of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency — 55 percent — express “much frustration” with the agency, while 72 percent say TRPA can be depended upon to not take their concerns very seriously.

In each case, TRPA’s unsatisfactory numbers are significantly higher than those of other local-government agencies in the Basin and higher still when compared to the attitudes of homeowners just outside the Basin.

Those are some of the many findings from two new surveys of attitudes toward local governments of homeowners living in the five Nevada and California counties surrounding Lake Tahoe, released today by NPRI’s Nevada Journal.

When homeowners who report limited or no experience with TRPA are included in the calculations, the numbers for TRPA are not quite so dire. In that case, only 47 percent express “much frustration” with TRPA and 70 percent say the agency does not take homeowner concerns very seriously.

“These results reveal the deep problems the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency still has with Lake Tahoe homeowners,” said NPRI Vice President for Policy Steven Miller. “While none of the government agencies in the region scored particularly well in the survey, TRPA received the lowest marks by far.”

A second poll surveyed the opinions of homeowners in the same counties, but outside the Lake Tahoe Basin. Outside-the-Basin homeowners answered parallel questions, with the term “your local Planning Agency” replacing “the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.”

Basin homeowners experienced with their city and county governments expressed “much frustration” regarding those entities 46 and 35 percent of the time, respectively. Outside the Basin, comparable homeowners reported such frustration only 28 and 29 percent of the time, respectively.

The surveys also probed respondents’ possible sense of futility in dealing with local-government agencies. Inside the Basin, 48 percent of all respondents said they found dealing with TRPA “very futile.” When the answers of those with minimal experience of the agency were excluded, TRPA’s “futility rating” went up to 57 percent.

Basin homeowners, by a 59 to 41 percent majority, agreed that “Basin residents end up with less liberty than Americans outside Tahoe Basin.”

However, homeowners living in the same counties, but outside the Basin, don’t see the problem. By a 55 to 45 margin, they see Basin homeowners as having just as much freedom as everyone else.

“TRPA’s real problem,” said Miller, “is that its basic mission has always been, and largely remains, to impose top-down, command-style controls on Basin property owners. That’s bound to make you unpopular in America, where in virtually every other community, planning authorities are more answerable to local governments and local people.

“TRPA, however, for most of its existence has answered primarily to far-away politicians, judges and bureaucrats. And those distant politicians, judges and bureaucrats frequently were striving to keep in step with the misanthropic wing of the environmentalist movement.

“Hopefully, under the new Regional Plan adopted in 2012, some important degree of local community control will return to the Tahoe Basin.”

The surveys, conducted for NPRI’s Nevada Journal by PMI International, have a margin of error, plus or minus, of 5 percent.

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