Marina owners feel mistreated |

Marina owners feel mistreated

As environmental watchdogs scrutinize the Tahoe Keys Marina Master Plan, marina owners question the fairness of the bureaucratic process.

The marina spent several years and $500,000 to expand boat slips, a process its neighbors have gone through without the same expense or effort.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency set guidelines in 1990 for marinas that don’t apply to homeowners associations.

If a marina wants to expand by more than 10 slips, it’s required to submit a master plan and conduct an environmental assessment.

With more stringent rules placed upon the marinas, Keys marina co-owner Richard Horton said it’s no wonder the Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association and Beach and Harbor Association house 550 boats on the water, compared to the marina’s 239 slips.

TRPA land-use team leader Coleen Shade said although more documentation is required of marinas, they are allowed certain privileges private owners are not.

If marinas can mitigate impacts, they are allowed to expand in prime fish habitat.

Shade said marina expansion is an important tool in boosting recreational access on Lake Tahoe, where about 70 percent of the shoreline is privately owned.

Not only have Keys marina owners had to jump through more hoops to expand, but their plans are in jeopardy of not materializing at all.

The marina’s environmental impact study, required by TRPA, contains several stipulations that may slowdown or stop the proposed 150-slip expansion. Officials of the League to Save Lake Tahoe say the stipulations are necessary no matter how small the lake’s marinas are compared to private slips and buoys.

“There’s no question TRPA has done a poor job on controlling shorezone development. I’m not sure why they have not required environmental documentation from private property owners,” said League Executive Director Rochelle Nason. “It’s a poor excuse to allow more environmental degradation just because they’ve allowed it in the past. We’re looking into this. We’re trying, as a watchdog, to make TRPA do its job and obey the law.”

Although most homeowners association buoy fields are permitted, there are thousands of buoys and slips that aren’t.

Steve Chilton, TRPA chief of environmental compliance, said the agency requires permits on all slips and buoys no matter who owns them. But of the 6,000 buoys counted at the end of the 2000 boating season, more than 2,000 weren’t permitted. Chilton did not have slip estimates.

Chilton said TRPA staff is in the process of figuring out who is legal and who is not. He wasn’t sure what avenue the agency will take to ensure all buoys in Lake Tahoe are permitted. He said the Shorezone Consensus Group is working out a plan to solve the problem.

“That may open up new avenues for us to authorize these buoys,” Chilton said. “As is with most of these regulations, education is really 90 percent of the game.”

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