INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — In an effort to prevent overcrowding, IVGID will regulate who enters the district’s restricted beaches prior to the community’s Fourth of July fireworks display above Lake Tahoe.
Personnel will staff the entrances to Ski, Incline and Burnt Cedar beaches until 10 p.m. on Friday, July 4, the district announced Wednesday.
“Safety is the overriding driving factor here,” said Steven Pinkerton, who took over as IVGID general manager on April 28. “The Fourth of July has become so popular over the years … we think that from a safety standpoint, controlling access during that time will allow for a better experience for people on the beach.”
The eighth annual Red, White and Tahoe Blue fireworks show is scheduled to explode off the shores of Incline and Ski beaches at roughly 9:30 p.m. on Independence Day.
As the show has grown with better funding and bigger and better mortar rounds in recent years, so has the number of spectators who take to Incline’s easternmost beaches to view it.
IVGID has reported record or near-record crowds at the beaches each of the past two July 4 holidays.
While no serious incidents have occurred in terms of injuries or drunken brawls, the number of people leaving the beaches and flowing onto Lakeshore Boulevard and adjacent streets has become troublesome for law enforcement, and measures such as closing Lakeshore to through traffic have been added in recent years.
“I would rather prevent than to react — that’s the whole goal here,” Pinkerton said when asked about the potential for future incidents.
On top of shutting down Lakeshore again for the Fourth this year, IVGID is working with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office to provide better lighting and a better exit strategy for pedestrians and motorists after the July 4 show, Pinkerton said.
Typically, beach entrances are staffed until 8 p.m. to ensure only IVGID residents with beach access and their guests can enter.
In previous years, IVGID treated the Fourth of July like any summer day and stopped manning entrances after 8 p.m. — thus allowing nonresidents and those without a valid IVGID picture pass or punch card onto the beaches.
“The IVGID board has supported staff’s recommendation for everyone to come onto the beach to see the fireworks,” former IVGID GM Bill Horn said in a 2009 Bonanza story. “It’s been a historical policy — as long as we’re not manning the kiosks, then no one will be checking for cards or wrist bands or anything.”
Recent discussions about Ordinance 7 and the community’s request for improved exclusivity also played a factor in Pinkerton’s decision.
On June 11, before a crowd of more than 200 at The Chateau, the IVGID Board of Trustees voted 5-0 to rescind changes it adopted in March to the district’s recreation pass laws.
The changes to Ordinance 7 — including eliminating the law’s long-standing family tree requirement for passholders — drew heavy criticism from residents, many of whom expressed displeasure on June 11 and at a similarly well-attended meeting on April 30.
On Wednesday, Pinkerton said the board made the right choice to start over with the current ordinance, last updated in 1998.
“The public has spoken ... It was very clear that the first thing we want to do is increase the knowledge base for everyone regarding the existing ordinance,” he said.
Pinkerton and staff will host a series of public forums in July and August, where residents can offer feedback on the current law. Residents also can take a survey at www.ivgidordinance7.com that will be online through Sept. 30.
Pinkerton also plans to meet with homeowner associations and organizations in the community in the coming weeks to learn more about what should or should not change.
“I think we can make a better decision (on changes) if we first have a large group of people who understand what exactly the status quo is,” he said.
A tentative goal to bring proposed changes — if any — to the IVGID board is next spring, Pinkerton said.
“And if we don’t feel ready, then we’ll delay to the following spring,” he said.