Recommended changes to IVGID’s Ordinance 7 (Opinion)

Judith Miller
Guest column

Ordinance 7 and Incline Village General Improvement District beach access changes were considered at the April 13 Board of Trustees meeting; they will be on the agenda again on May 11. Since the public was not allowed to hear or participate in any of the GM’s Ordinance 7 Committee meetings, this was the first opportunity for us to learn what has been proposed and suggest alternatives.

I have four recommendations: 1. Require guests to be accompanied by a picture pass holder. 2. Get rid of punch cards (not the value associated with them). 3. Revise the definition of guest. 4. Set daily/weekly/season limits on guests.

Require picture pass holders to accompany guests. A recent survey asked if beach guests must be accompanied by a picture pass holder. I believe this is necessary to limit access and get better control of our beaches. Even though the survey showed a majority (57.7%) favored this requirement, the board indicated they didn’t feel that was enough. That same requirement is already in place at the golf courses to get a discounted rate. It doesn’t matter at the golf course if you have to work or if you’re too old to swing a club. But those were essentially the stated reasons for not imposing the requirement at the beaches. No alternatives were presented.

The “inconvenience” of having to go with your guests and schedule beach trips when you are available is far outweighed by the risks of giving beach access to total strangers. Getting up in years, I do recognize there might be a time when my old body just can’t make it down to the beach with younger family/friends. In either case, with eight or 10 picture passes available, even if you are personally unable to come to the beach, there are options. You can assign beach privileges/picture passes. And if you don’t have someone in the family tree, maybe an exception could be made for the elderly/infirm.

Punch Cards. Because residents said cards had value, staff recommended they be retained. Again, there needs to be consideration of alternative ways to provide that value. If a picture pass holder’s presence is required for beach access/discounts, the value of punch cards could be replaced by either a specific value linked to a property account or alternatively, a discount provided to picture pass holders.

If we did away with punch cards, we wouldn’t potentially have 50,000-plus punch cards out there that can be given away (or even sold) allowing up to 600,000 non-resident/non-property owner beach visits at $15 each. Even IVGID’s finance director considers punch cards as an accounting nightmare.

Guests/commercial use. The proposed definition of guest (anyone you invite) is too vague, especially since it appears possessing a punch card is evidence that I invited the holder. Punch cards are transferred in ways that the owner has no idea who is using his punch card. Illegal sale of punch cards will be even more widespread if they can be applied toward the purchase of almost any IVGID service, as was proposed by staff. It may sound enticing, but loading picture passes would be a much safer option.

I do agree with proposed language for commercial use. However, just as the boat rental/launching companies would not be able to bring their non-resident/non-property owner customers on the beaches, neither should STR operators be permitted to bring their customers to overcrowd our beaches unless accompanied by a picture pass holder. That needs to be made clear.

Washoe County regulations will go into effect on May 20 that will nearly double the allowed occupancy of most STR’s. Although a limit of 10 punch cards is proposed per parcel, that’s still a lot of perfect strangers coming onto beaches that were initially supposed to be private. Commercial customers are not guests.

Cap on guest visits. Another item that raised my eyebrows was that limiting the number of beach guests per day/month/season was hardly considered because it would be difficult to program the point-of-sale system. If we have such an archaic system, it’s time to get rid of it. We need a nimble system that can adapt to the rules determined by the board, not adapt the rules to the system.

Lastly, the new Tahoe Area Plan and proposals for two or three units on every residential parcel could potentially result in thousands of new parcels/dwelling units in the next decade. That will mean a lot more picture passes and punch cards. We need to think longer term.

Judith Miller is an Incline Village resident

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