New land coverage exemptions are great news for Homeowners in the Lake Tahoe Basin!

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TRPA is making coverage rules more user-friendly. New land coverage exemptions are in effect that give a break to many homeowners who have installed their BMPs and could make a small addition to your Tahoe home possible. The new regulations will improve water quality by encouraging more small projects that include BMPs. This is part of the incentive-based approach to environmental improvements TRPA is implementing in the new Regional Plan.

For many property owners, a deck or room addition that couldn’t be built before due to lack of coverage may now be possible. That’s because water quality best management practices to minimize stormwater pollution and erosion are required with every significant remodel or house addition project. Since there are approximately 25,000 properties remaining in the Lake Tahoe Basin that do not have a BMP completion certificate, this could lead to many more homeowners doing their part to improve Lake Tahoe’s clarity.

Here are the basics. The water quality plan for Lake Tahoe is innovative because it is based on soil protection. What happens on the land affects Tahoe’s water, so requiring a certain amount of open space on every parcel is a cornerstone of the water quality plan. The rest of the parcel can be covered with structures or pavement, called land coverage, as long as the soil on the property is considered non-sensitive. In the past, home improvement projects were blocked on some parcels because there was already too much coverage. Now, the new rules encourage small home improvements and additions by exempting certain permitted structures and surfaces from a parcel’s land coverage limit with a BMP completion certificate.

To help you understand what types of structures are exempt and how to find out if these exemptions can be used on your property, TPRA has put together a helpful information packet available at your local building department and online. In many cases, your local government planning department will be able to permit your exemption on TRPA’s behalf because of agreements in place that streamline the permit process. Regardless of where you apply for your exemption, the primary starting point is your parcel’s land capability and amount of existing coverage. If you haven’t had either of these verified by TRPA, you will need to apply for a site assessment as soon as possible to help move your project forward.

So when you sit down to start planning that remodel or addition, take some time to find out about the new land coverage exemptions that may be available for your property and remember these new exemptions are part of what you can do to protect and restore Lake Tahoe.


Source: posted on July 16th, 2013 by Joanne Marchetta –


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