TRPA gives nod to pier extension
January 31, 2014
A lingering Lake Tahoe pier extension was approved by Tahoe Regional Planning Agency on Wednesday, though some Governing Board members asked to take a look next month at how or when such extensions should be granted.
When rebuilt, the 200-foot pier in Incline Village will be 70 feet longer than the existing pier and extend 70 feet past a normally allowable pierhead line on the lake. It is located at 1019 and 1021 Lakeshore Blvd.
Tahoe Estates and SF Pacific requested the pier extension last August. The two limited liabilities are likely owned by the same group or individuals as well as the two properties, according to TRPA.
TRPA approved a multiple-use designation for the pier because both properties and several houses will use it. The designation allows deviation from pier standards that apply to single-use piers.
In exchange, applicants agreed to share the pier with the abutting lakefront parcel that has no pier and to a deed restriction barring that property from future pier development.
They also agreed to demolish a nonconforming boathouse on the pier. That will reduce "visible mass" at the shore and help TRPA attain its scenic thresholds for the lake.
Applicants initially requested a 225-foot pier. The project drew some opposition last summer, but all neighboring property owners except one have withdrawn their opposition.
Governing Board members Hal Cole and Bill Yates voted against motions approving the pier extension.
Cole said a 200-foot pier extending 70 feet beyond the pierhead line gets his attention. So does a multiple-use designation for a pier serving only two residential parcels.
"If every two parcels in Incline Village was allowed to build 200-foot piers we would change the appearance of the area dramatically," Cole said. "The head line to me is a very important line in the sand, so I cannot make a finding of no significant impact for a 200-foot pier for two parcels."
With its shorezone ordinances vacated in 2010 after a legal challenge, TRPA is operating under interim 1987 rules. They allow no new piers and set the guidelines for the repair, reconstruction, modification or extension of existing piers that do not cause additional boating capacity.
After the vote, Governing Board member E. Clement Shute, Jr., said the guidelines on allowable deviations were unhelpful. He asked staff to come back with options to potentially tighten up the language under which pier extensions are allowed, even as TRPA staff work to craft new shorezone ordinances.
"Because I don't feel I have any guidance on how many extra feet should be allowed in exchange for retiring a second parcel or how many people will use (the pier)," Shute said.
Six additional pier extension requests are pending around Lake Tahoe. Beyond those requests, it's an issue likely to persist for as long as drought and low-water conditions persist.
"What's poking at everyone right now are the low water conditions. We may see more," said Joanne Marchetta, executive director of TRPA.
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