Tahoe Keys Marina without running water as dispute over bills continues
It’s been over a week since the Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association Water Department shut off Tahoe Keys Marina’s running water for alleged unpaid bills totaling around $80,000. And based on courtroom appearances, a resolution to the dispute does not appear to be in sight.
On Wednesday, July 12, The Fresh Ketch and its adjacent deli, located at the marina, were shut down by the El Dorado County Department of Public Health due to lack of water. The city of South Lake Tahoe posted notices on the two residences in the marina, deeming them “unfit for human occupancy.”
The various water sport rentals companies, as well as the South Lake Tahoe Yacht Club and Lake Tahoe Windjammers Yacht Club are without water, too.
The Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association (TKPOA) owns and operates the water company that supplies water to its homeowners and several businesses in the Tahoe Keys, but it is not affiliated with the marina.
Tahoe Keys Marina general manager Robert Spinnato and representation from TKPOA have been to court three times in the last week, but there has been no resolution to the dispute.
On Wednesday, July 12, an emergency hearing was held in front of El Dorado County Judge Steven Bailey. Bailey will be retiring in August, and the case was passed on to Judge Suzanne Kingsbury for the following day.
Kingsbury ultimately denied the request made by the marina on Thursday, July 13, to have the water turned back on due to issues with the business name under which the marina was filing the petition — Tahoe Keys Marina and Yacht Club, LLC.
The marina recently changed its name from Tahoe Keys Marina and Yacht Club, LLC to Tahoe Keys Marina Management, Inc. The LLC is now defunct, but the state has not recognized Inc. as a valid business name.
“We paid the bill,” Tahoe Keys Marina general manager Robert Spinnato told the Tribune on Monday, July 17, in the court house as he filed a second petition to have the water turned back on — this time under the business name Tahoe Keys Marina Management, Inc. “They allocated the funds wrong. They allocated them to water quality instead of water usage.”
Spinnato alleged that in fact the TKPOA owed the marina around $87,000.
But when that petition was heard in court on Tuesday, July 18, Kingsbury again denied the request to have the water turned back on.
“You have shown no proof whatsoever that your client paid the bill,” Kingsbury said to Justin Clouser, the marina’s attorney.
Further, TKPOA attorney Michael Rounds argued that the water company is under contract with the LLC, and that the Inc. is not a legitimate plaintiff since a fictitious business statement has not yet been filed.
Rounds was in court with TKPOA general manager Kirk Wooldridge, who did not want to comment on the dispute.
“Pay the bill, and this goes away,” said Rounds.
Clouser told the judge that the marina reached out to TKPOA several times leading up to the water shutoff when they received a 30-day notice and then a five-day notice in an effort to figure out who owes what. TKPOA never responded, said Clouser.
“We have tried to work with them, and they have refused,” he said, adding that the only conclusion he can draw is that TKPOA is “doing its darndest to put the marina out of business.”
Kingsbury suggested that TKPOA and the marina make use of a private mediator to resolve the situation.
This is not the first issue that the Tahoe Keys Marina has had since new ownership took over eight years ago.
Illinois-based developer Robert Krilich and his wife Donna purchased the marina in 2009, and in 2013, they also bought the Fresh Ketch.
In addition to previous disagreements with TKPOA over bills, the marina has had issues complying with environment regulations.
In May 2014, authorities responded to an estimated 15-gallon sewage spill at the Fresh Ketch. Marina operators alleged that the spill was caused by sabotage from two disgruntled tenants who were in the process of being evicted.
Three months later the marina illegally graded land on a California Tahoe Conservancy property as a means to create more parking for the South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic — “a total misunderstanding,” according to a marina employee.
This year the boat show was cancelled after nine years due to increased rates and fees that would raise the overall cost of the show by approximately $15,000, according to event organizers.
At this time, no additional court dates have been set for TKPOA or the Tahoe Keys Marina.