Council will consider Marina master plan |

Council will consider Marina master plan

The Tahoe Keys Marina Master Plan, which would create space for 150 new boats, faces a crucial test tonight.

The South Lake Tahoe Planning Commission last Tuesday recommended approval of the plan, but only after a 3-2 vote reflecting concerns over traffic and water quality standards. If approved by the City Council tonight and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency governing board June 27, the marina plan would be the first to move forward since TRPA enacted regulations in 1990.

Mayor Hal Cole suggested citizens with strong opinions on the master plan attend the public hearing, because it is their last chance to be heard at the local level. The TRPA governing board will also take public input but that panel is made up of regional representatives.

The key at both meetings is likely to be water quality standards, with the League to Save Lake Tahoe pushing for a baseline level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), a byproduct of unburned boat fuel considered harmful to fish and zooplankton. The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board is testing water in and around the marina for PAH, but analysis of the data won’t be finished before the plan is set to be adopted.

Instead, TRPA’s advisory planning commission accepted Lahontan’s proposal to set a maximum PAH threshold, on top of stringent state and federal water standards already in place. The city Planning Commission included the water board’s monitoring requirements in its recommendation to the City Council.

The League’s position is that the PAH levels have been skewed, because the marina had about 70 excess boat slips in place until a recent legal settlement with TRPA.

Richard Horton, co-owner of the Marina, also questions the fairness of the study, because there are hundreds of boats docked outside the marina that could contribute to increased PAH levels in the Tahoe Keys.

The plan allows up to 150 boats to be added over a three-year period, along with expanded parking, commercial space and boat storage. As of now, if the study determines the PAH level is higher than 20 parts per billion, the whole plan could be nixed.

Otherwise the boat slips could be phased in 50 at a time. Each phase of boat slips would be monitored for a year to check the effect on PAH levels.

Beyond concerns over water quality, the project’s Environmental Impact Statement identifies increased traffic at the intersection of Highway 50 and Tahoe Keys Boulevard. According to the EIS, the city plans to implement a traffic impact fee, which would require the marina to help offset the cost of adding new turn lanes. Two hurdles remain: The city has no fee program in place and the cost of the project could be prohibitive.

A 1990 study by the California Department of Transportation estimated the turn lanes would cost $2.5 million to $3 million. The hefty price tag results from the impact on businesses near the intersection. City planners believe striping or narrower turn lanes could spare those buildings and reduce the cost of the project significantly.

“The city is asking us to consider something shorter, and we’re doing that right now,” said Caltrans spokesman Mark Dinger.

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