Lines drawn in the sand over beach access issue
INCLINE VILLAGE – A fight over beach access on public lands has broken out near Crystal Bay as residents of both sides of the North Lake Tahoe border weigh the pros and cons of scaling back access in their neighborhood.
On Thursday, officials from Placer County gathered at North Lake Tahoe with members of the public to listen to what they could do better to mitigate pedestrian and auto traffic as well as act as a de facto sounding board for the public’s concern.
Soon after deputy director of public works Peter Kraatz reviewed a map of the North Shore’s border beaches – most of which, he noted, are currently mostly submerged because of the late-season storms – a melee of backhanded accusation ensued between residents, especially with regards to the use of Speedboat Beach (at the bottom of Speedboat avenue on the California side – many who frequent the beach park on the Nevada side.)
Some residents have suggested Placer County officials more closely monitor the neighborhoods for scofflaws and institute a permit parking program, restricted to residents or specific renters. Others implored the county to limit beach access to homeowners and renters.
“I see this very thing is a small group of people that are super wealthy trying to make our beaches private,” said Brockway resident Janis Hills. “Sorry if your property values are not going up fast enough, but to block access that has been the right of generations, and to block it for your children and your grandchildren – it’s plain unfair.”
Hills also called attention to larger estate homes on the North Shore border that are frequently rented for weddings or other large events – turning profits for owners who do not favor public access.
“There are commercial enterprises at work here,” she said.
The “wealthy neighbors” justify limiting beach and parking access because of fire danger Hills said.
“I have never seen a fire, I have never felt in danger, the only nuisance here, is the neighbors,” she said.
Other residents, who claimed not to be of the “wealthy” ilk, countered Hills’ sentiment.
“We feel like we’re living in the Raley’s parking lot,” said Brockway resident Jackie Good. “The beach has gotten more popular and the resources haven’t (kept up) with the number of people who want to come to the beach.”
Other concerned neighbors postulated that “laws are being broken” on the public beach and right-of-way “every day.”
Placer County spokesman Kraatz reiterated that since the beach is state park, CHP officers mitigate any wrong-doing.
“We have a lot of jurisdiction, but the county does not regulate behavior,” he said.
Steve Eickam, who works for the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District and also lives in the Stateline neighborhood, said that a parking solution could include loading zones, and that while the current streets are navigable for fire vehicles, they are narrow enough that he has “bent several snow poles.”
In spite of this, Eickam said “it would be a travesty to have the public lose access to this property.”
As the forum reached the hour-mark, the divisiveness ensued, as suggestions from audience members ranged from privatization of the entire stretch, to the other side imploring the county or state using imminent domain and buy three of four large private parcels and turning the area into a large public beach.
“There’s reality and then there’s pipe dreams,” said county spokesman Kraatz. “My dream is to perhaps create a boardwalk, and come up with a better solution to manage and enforce activity on this beach.”
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