Debate over shorezone ordinances: Too many piers on lake or too few?
INCLINE VILLAGE ” The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board directed its staff Wednesday to finalize the language of a new shorezone ordinance and environmental impact statement, but not before hearing concerns from homeowners and environmentalists.
Some property owners and real-estate agents worried that the new code does not allow enough piers, while some environmentalists and homeowners were concerned that the ordinance allowed too many piers.
“What I’m getting at today is everyone really dislikes this plan, so we must be getting close,” joked TRPA Vice Chair Allen Biaggi.
At the end of an almost 2 1/2-hour discussion, the board directed staff to create the language for the ordinances. TRPA Executive Director John Singlaub said the ordinances could be ready by June. Members of the board and the public asked that a public workshop be held at that point.
“I think it’s going to be beneficial to everyone involved to sit down and talk about their concerns and try to work them out,” Biaggi said.
The shorezone ordinances have been the subject of 20 years of debate and center around regulating boats, piers and buoys in the Tahoe Basin.
The preferred alternative reduces by half the number of piers that can be approved for the entire year to five, down from 10 in Alternative 6A. It also creates a system to phase in buoys based on a Blue Boating program.
The Blue Boating program would create a boat-sticker program to mitigate pollutants coming into the lake due to increased motorized watercraft. Fees for the Blue Boating program remain to be determined.
After the Blue Boating program is implemented, TRPA can begin approving up to 6,316 buoys around the lake. Currently, there are 4,454 buoys.
However, some property owners were concerned that the overlapping ordinances essentially would eliminate new piers around the lake.
“We currently have a classic case of giving with one hand and taking away with another,” said Jan Brisco, executive director of the Tahoe Lakefront Owners Association. “This looks like a no-pier alternative to us if we overlay all the criteria and eligibility.”
Brisco pointed specifically to the required length and depth piers must reach.
Board member Jim Galloway echoed Brisco’s concern and asked TRPA staff to further look into the code.
Still other environmental groups urged TRPA to keep an eye on environmental thresholds that might be affected by an increase in piers, buoys and boats.
“The Blue Boating program should be implemented and proven effective before new buoys are implemented and constructed,” said Raina Patrocinio, program and media advocate for the League to Save Lake Tahoe.
The ordinances are far from final. After staff comes back with the final language for the new code and the EIS, the board will hold a public workshop. Concerns expressed at the workshop will be taken into consideration. Then the board will see the language again, and the code will be available to the public before TRPA holds a hearing and makes a final decision.