Shorezone debate sparks protests at TRPA’s office
May 22, 2008
As a light snow fell Thursday, the long-simmering debate over the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s update to policies regulating boats, piers and buoys at Lake Tahoe heated up.
Late Thursday morning, a half-dozen environmental activists unfurled signs outside a shorezone workshop held at TRPA’s South Shore office, saying the latest proposed alternative for the shorezone does not go far enough to protect the lake.
“Lake Tahoe is a national treasure, and we should treat it as such,” said Stateline resident and protester Cory Ritchie. “We shouldn’t litter it with piers and turn it into Any Lake, USA.”
Thursday’s demonstration arose because a Governing Board decision on shorezone ordinances is expected as early as June, according to activist Laurel Ames.
Inside the workshop, representatives from various interest groups engaged in sometimes tense discussion with TRPA Executive Director John Singlaub regarding the eighth alternative proposed to update the shorezone ordinances, released earlier this month.
The latest alternative would allow the construction of up to 138 new piers and the placement of 1,862 new buoys on Lake Tahoe.
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The previous alternative, labeled 6A, would have allowed for the same number of new buoys but the development of 340 new piers, according to TRPA documents.
After a question from Governing Board member Jerry Waldie about the justification for allowing any new pier development, Singlaub said the latest alternative was a “political decision” bartered between California and Nevada agencies, following concerns from California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi.
In January 2007, Garamendi wrote a letter to the TRPA saying new structures along the shorezone would be detrimental to recreation and block public access.
Maximum distances buoys could be placed from shore, mitigation requirements for pier maintenance, and unanswered questions regarding the types of public access allowed on Tahoe’s California shorefront were among the concerns expressed by Jan Brisco, executive director of the Tahoe Lakefront Owners’ Association.
Brisco described the TRPA processes for pier maintenance in the newest alternative as “onerous.”
The presence of angry people on both sides of the shorezone debate indicates the preferred alternative may be reaching a “middle ground,” said TRPA spokesman Dennis Oliver, adding there are details in the language of the ordinances which may be changed before the agency’s Governing Board decide on whether to approve the ordinances.
“Maybe there’s some things in the proposal we need to take a look at and tweak a little bit,” Oliver said.
On May 28 at the North Shore, the TRPA staff will be ask the Governing Board to approve “transition procedures” for processing shorezone permit applications, according to the meeting agenda.