Board urges shorezone plan forward, considers grandfathering of buoys
KINGS BEACH – While stopping short of announcing that a tentative shorezone plan would be released at October’s governing board meeting, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Executive Director John Singlaub hinted last week that a plan and accompanying ordinances would be released this fall for review by the governing board and the public.
“Next month is shaping up to be a big meeting,” Singlaub said.
This was in the wake of the realization that no shorezone plan or ordinances were released this summer, as TRPA staff promised this spring.
While board members and the public can only speculate what will be a part of the “final” released plan after six iterations, one sticking point for both the public and some governing board members is the grandfathering of buoys.
Previously absent from all tentative Shorezone plans, basin residents like Homewood landholder Jack Warner spoke at Wednesday’s governing board meeting with questions as to why a long-time resident and buoy owner would be penalized under a new plan.
“In 1962 our predecessor in (owning) the land set out two buoys; we became title owners of the (West Shore) lots in 1977,” Warner said. “My five kids, the oldest who is 50, enjoyed the buoys and a pier built in 1963. We feel we have the right to continue our ownership of our piers and buoys.
“I hope you keep us in mind when you’re considering (shorezone) plan 16, 66 or 613.”
While Warner’s allusion to the notion that a working shorezone plan may still be a ways off invoked chuckles from those attending the meeting at the North Tahoe Conference Center, his point was well-taken by some board members, including Coe Swobe – long a proponent for language to grandfather in buoys on any new ordinance.
“The shorezone ordinance should be released as soon as possible and the vote (should be) next summer … when most people can comment (on) it,” Swobe said. “With reference to Mr. Warner’s issue with grandfathering, there are people here who’ve had buoys for 35 years.
“We concede 1,800 new buoys (in the new plan), yet grandfathering buoys does not add one. If we don’t do grandfathering, it is reverse condemnation, taking people’s property.”
Other board members, like Steven Merrill, agreed that grandfathering of buoys should be worked in, saying that a shorezone plan – any plan – is better than nothing.
“My biggest concern is, while this has been going on, piers continue to get built,” Merrill said. “We’ve allowed a pier in Glenbrook harbor, a floating pier in Kings Beach …
“We have a highly irrational buoy policy, close to 2,000 unpermitted. Some have been there a long time and should be grandfathered; some have been permitted by other agencies that should be grandfathers. (But) we also have hundreds of buoys that have gotten dumped into the lake that should be removed. It shouldn’t be hard to come up with a policy better than the one we have now.”
In the wake of board comments, Singlaub reiterated he would like to see the shorezone plan released soon, as well.
“We want it to be a solid document,” Singlaub said. “It’s time to move forward. If it’s the board’s wish to get more involvement, we can have a meeting in the Bay Area.”
Conservationists, like Sierra Club chair Michael Donahoe, said that any meeting to discuss shorezone in the late fall or winter months, regardless of location, would not be an optimal time.
“It doesn’t’ matter where you have it,” Donahoe said. “You hold a meeting in December and it’s going to be a disaster.”
Since releasing Alternative 6 in summer 2005, TRPA dropped its suggestion to limit motorboat traffic in Emerald Bay on weekends and a requirement to remove buoys each winter from Lake Tahoe. It lowered buoy permitting fees from $5,000 to $500.
Facing public outcry on all fronts, TRPA staff went back to the drawing board and released Alternative 6A in May. The number of new piers, the number of new buoys, 1,862, the cost to permit a pier, $100,000, a boat sticker program, and an item banning further development in a large portion of Tahoe’s publicly owned lakeshore are all said to be a part of the latest plan.
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