Pier extension rejected by TRPA
STATELINE – With new regulations for the shorezone to be released soon, a pier project that complied with all existing regulations designed to protect Lake Tahoe failed Wednesday to get approved for construction.
“There is a de facto moratorium on shorezone projects, at least on the California side,” said attorney Gregg Lien, who spoke on behalf of a Tahoe City resident who wants to extend a pier on his property. “A small minority of the board is saying we have the power to defy the standards and deny any and all projects before us if it is our whim to do so.”
Meeting at Stateline, the Governing Board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency rejected the pier project after nine of its members voted for it and three voted against it.
The project, which would have extended the pier 105 feet, failed to obtain a building permit because only three of the seven California delegates on the Governing Board voted against it when five votes were needed.
Tom Quinn, a Governing Board member who represents California, said he voted no because new rules governing the shorezone could be ready as early as this summer.
“I believe we’re fooling ourselves planting shrubs in front of a house to mitigate the pier,” Quinn said. “Why make the problem worse when we’ll have a policy in place this summer?”
A draft of a report called the shorezone environmental impact statement is due to be released to the public at the beginning of June. It will present a number of alternatives of how the shorezone could be regulated and what impact those regulations would create. The public will have three months to comment on report.
Reed Holderman, another Governing Board member from the Golden State who voted against the pier, said he can’t support it because of his concerns about the public’s access to the lake.
“I want staff to collect a fee from pier applicants and have that money deposited into an account to create more shoreline access for the public,” Holderman said. “The lake is a public resource. Certainly we’re conferring public benefits to private parties.”
John Singlaub, executive director of the TRPA, said Holderman’s proposal has already been incorporated into the shorezone report. Singlaub had no specific comment on the rejection of the pier project, but he said the shorezone report will include new rules to regulate pier construction.
“What haven’t we done? We met all the rules? Lien said. “My client has spent $30,000 to 40,000 and two and a half years on this project.”
The Governing Board voted to allow Lien’s client to make adjustments to the pier project and bring it back for a vote within the year, which could allow the project to avoid having to adhere to any regulations that come out of the shorezone report.
Lien said the rejection of the project raised a number of legal questions, but that he planned to keep his mind open and reassess the situation.
– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at email@example.com