Incline Village GM’s Corner: Beach season is almost here (opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Incline Village GM’s Corner: Beach season is almost here (opinion)

Steve Pinkerton
GM’s Corner
Steve Pinkerton

In just a couple of weeks, May 11 to be exact, it is officially beach season for IVGID picture passholders and their guests.

One of our main priorities the past few years has been to make the guest experience as pleasurable as possible for everyone who comes to the beach, and especially for our picture passholders.

Frequently, I receive complaints that there are too many visitors from California taking up the parking spaces at our beach. Over the past few years, we’ve restricted parking at the beach during peak times for picture passholders as part of our preferred parking program, and yet there remain a significant number of California license plates in our lot.

There is actually a very logical explanation for that.

We have approximately 6,900 property owners in Incline Village/Crystal Bay and the vast majority of the owners with Incline Village properties have beach access.

Around 42% of our owners have a mailing address in California, while 40% have mailing addresses in Incline Village/Crystal Bay.

Digging down a bit deeper into the information, a little less than 2% of our owners receive their mail in Crystal Bay and another 7% of our owners live elsewhere around the lake, Reno or the Carson Valley.

Our California owners are primarily out of the north half of the state, with 26% of our mail going to the Bay Area and another 5% going to the Sacramento/Central Valley and the foothills. A little under 8% of our owners live in the southern half of the state.

A little over 1% of our mail goes to Southern Nevada. We have slightly more owners in Texas than we do in Southern Nevada, and slightly fewer owners in Arizona than we do in Southern Nevada. The balance of our owners — around 6% — live in every state in the union (excluding Iowa and Maine) and Washington, D.C.

So unless you see a license plate from Iowa or Maine, there is a good chance that the vehicle parked at our beaches belongs to one of our property owners.

Once you get to our beaches, you can expect to see another year with lots of blue water and a limited amount of sand. As I pointed out in my column last summer, the fuller the lake, the smaller the beach.

To be more specific:

The size of our beach is dependent on the amount of water residing in our beautiful Lake Tahoe. The legally defined rim of the lake is at 6,223 feet above sea level. In drought years it can drop up to three feet below the legal level, to around 6,220 above sea level during the winter and to as low as 6,223 during the summer. In wet years, the Lake can reach an elevation as high as 6,229 above sea level during the summer.

So how does Lake level translate into beach size?

The higher the rim of the lake, the more the lake encroaches onto our beach. Over the past 35 years, the average lake level in mid-summer (July 22 is the date I used) is 6,225.86. Since 2000 the average is 6,225.54 — so marginally less. While a third of a foot doesn’t seem like much, it actually translates into about 4 feet difference in the depth of our beach.

In fact, for every foot of lake level, the depth of the beach expands or contracts by around 11 feet.

The summer of 2016 marked the fourth straight year of low lake levels. Not quite as low as 2015 (6,222.77), when we had near record low winter snowfalls, but still below average with a mid-summer 2016 lake level of 6,223.67.

In 2017, due to all the snowmelt from our Stormaggedon winter, the mid-summer lake level surged to 6,228.93 — and remained nearly as high last summer as well at 6,228.67. Thus, the rim of the lake elevated over 5 feet between 2016 and 2017 — and around 6 feet since 2015.

And given the amount of snow this year, we expect to be near the top rim of the lake once again.

So for the third summer in a row, we expect Incline Beach to be approximately 35% smaller than during the drought, and the skinnier Ski Beach will continue to be approximately 63% smaller than just three years ago.

GM’s Corner is a monthly column from IVGID General Manager Steve Pinkerton, who discusses issues and offers updates regarding various district matters. He may be reached for comment or any questions at sjp@ivgid.org.