Public gives its views on boat ban proposal today: TRPA, Parks leaders to speak
The head honcho of Tahoe’s regulatory agency will appear with a California Parks representative at the South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting today to discuss present and proposed boating regulations on Emerald Bay.
The agenda item is also open to public discussion.
City Manager Dave Jinkens said he invited John Singlaub of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Hayden Sohm, superintendent of the Sierra District of California State Parks, to speak on the issue, which was added to the agenda at the prompting of Mayor Kathay Lovell and Councilmember Ted Long.
Lovell said she was pleased the two agreed to come and hoped to dispel rumors, clarify the facts and find a solution.
“Everyone who has a boat has a right to be there as long as they are acting responsibly,” Lovell said. “This is everyone’s lake.”
Long said regardless of his personal stance on the boating issues, the underlying offense is that TRPA is not proactive in public outreach.
“The more important issue is how come we can’t be included in this stuff,” Long said. “There’s a list of subjects from affordable housing to boats in Emerald Bay.”
Singlaub said a proposal to ban motorboats for one day a weekend in Emerald Bay was endorsed by the shoreline committee of the TRPA’s Governing Board in January and was made available to “everybody,” including staff at the city.
Councilmember John Upton, who is the city’s representative on the TRPA Governing Board, said the issue was not discussed at the full board meeting in January, or thereafter.
“I did not hear about it until I read about it on the front page of the Tribune on the day of the board meeting last month,” Upton said. He added that he doesn’t see a need for the ban.
Long, Lovell and Councilmember Mike Weber said they did not know of the TRPA’s proposal until recently.
TRPA spokeswoman Julie Regan said the agency started outreach on this last summer.
“I just don’t think people are aware that there will be plenty of opportunity for public comment and discussion,” Regan said. “The issue has been narrowed down to this proposal in Emerald Bay, but the subject is much broader. The entire environmental document is controversial depending on who you talk to.”
Still, a couple of councilmembers feel slighted.
“It’s something that’s happened so often with the TRPA that it’s starting to resemble a pattern,” Weber said from his boat on Emerald Bay on Monday.
Singlaub said the TRPA is doing the best it can, but can always do better.
There are two different and distinct issues pertaining to boaters on Emerald Bay.
One is a proposal by the TRPA to ban motorboats on the bay for one day a weekend during July and August. The proposal is included in one of six alternatives for how the agency should regulate Tahoe’s lakeshore area, called the shorezone. Public comment for that is open until Sept. 2.
The second issue – completely separate from TRPA’s proposal – is State Parks’ concern that boaters are illegally spending the night at Emerald Bay outside the boat camp. They allege such campers damage the bottom with their anchors and litter, and illegally empty sewage into the lake.
Boating advocates deny that overnight boaters are the problem, saying people who spend the day in the bay also anchor, and could be littering or emptying sewage illegally.
TRPA also has regulations that prohibit overnight stays on Lake Tahoe, but it has not enforced the rule or taken a stance on the issue.
State Parks now says it will not enforce the ban on overnight stays and wants to educate the public on its concerns through public meetings.
There is also a legal question as to whether State Parks has the jurisdiction to enforce such a ban, or if the Department of Boating and Waterways has the final call.
“This is a significant point that needs to be resolved,” Sohm said. State Parks attorneys are presently working on the question.
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