Urban DevelopmentAlthough the idea of creating a national park at Lake Tahoe was first discussed in 1899 and as late as 1935, the proposals were not successful due to a number of factors. The essential roadblock to national park status was described by William Penn Mott, a Park Service employee who said, "private enterprise and extensive development around the entire border of the lake has destroyed the possibility of preserving on a national scale the natural beauty, character, flora, and fauna of this area."
Today, Lake Tahoe includes numerous private residential, commercial, and tourist properties and is home to over 60,000 full-time residents. Tahoe is also visited by millions of people every year. While there are constraints on the allowable amount of development in the area, there are many pressures for expansion to accommodate the high numbers of people. The League strongly believes that the health of this precious environment should not be compromised by an increase in population or an increase in the demands of that population.
Lake Tahoe's clarity depends on the overall health of the surrounding forests, streams, meadows, and wetlands. To achieve a healthy environment we must conserve the land that has remained untouched. For this reason, the League supports redevelopment as an alternative to new development, and we work to ensure all development is contained within existing urban boundaries.
Redevelopment allows for many environmental improvements to be made. For example, the developers of the Park Avenue redevelopment project in South Lake Tahoe were required to implement a number of erosion control and runoff treatment projects. This commercial area, like many that were developed in the 1950s and 1960s, previously had no water quality control measures in place. In addition, redevelopment allows for improvements to be made in the scenic quality of our urban areas.
Photo Caption: An urban drain behind Bijou Center leads directly into Lake Tahoe from Highway 50 in South Lake Tahoe. This photo was taken in 1993. The drain has never been upgraded.
Photo by Laurel Ames.