Sunday, November 26, 2006

Secrets at Tahoe

There is usually more to the story, than first comes out, when it has been done so secretly; and we will probably hear more about this one in the future.

Secrecy imperiled deal near Tahoe, officials say
Partial purchase has good chance to go forward now that details are revealed.
By David Whitney - Bee Washington BureauPublished 12:00 am PST Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Forest Service may yet get a shot at buying portions of the spectacular Homewood Mountain Resort's ski slopes overlooking Lake Tahoe, but probably not all 1,083 acres that it wanted.

It was touted as the largest parcel of developable property remaining in the Tahoe Basin, and the Forest Service notified Congress this spring that it wanted to spend as much as $60 million to buy the property.

If a public purchase fell through, the Forest Service said, the slopes were in danger of being carved into private estates, creating erosion problems that could harm the crystal blue waters of the lake below.

But Rep. John Doolittle, a key member of the House Appropriations Committee panel that funds the Interior Department, moved to kill the sale in May, saying it was hatched in secret without any advance warning. Besides, Doolittle said, the federal government already owned too much land.

Now the Roseville Republican is prepared to drop his opposition to a limited land purchase, he said, because he has been told the details. Placer County Supervisor Bruce Kranz, who said he was in the dark about the deal even though he sits on the Tahoe Regional Planning Authority that was secretly behind it, said he is feeling more comfortable with it, too.

"I am open to it now," Kranz said of the land purchase.

If it goes through, however, the sale most likely will involve a small 300-acre slice of what originally had been proposed.

Tahoe Regional Planning Authority executive director John Singlaub said he is delighted to see barriers to the sale falling, but said the smaller acreage may be the cost of trying to conduct the public's business in secret.