Tahoe Keys Marina denied request for water to be turned on, again

The Tahoe Keys Marina in South Lake Tahoe.
Claire Cudahy / Tahoe Daily Tribune

For the third time in just over two weeks a judge denied the Tahoe Keys Marina’s request to have its water turned back on — but that could change if the company is willing to post money.

At a hearing on Thursday, July 27, El Dorado County Judge Suzanne Kingsbury told Tahoe Keys Marina that she would instruct Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association (TKPOA) to turn back on the water at the marina if the company posted the almost $80,000 in alleged unpaid bills or a $250,000 bond.

Running water has been shut off at the Tahoe Keys Marina since Wednesday, July 12, forcing the closure of The Fresh Ketch restaurant, displacing several residential tenants, and leaving a handful of companies without working bathrooms.

TKPOA, which owns and operates the water company, claims that the Tahoe Keys Marina has not been paying its water bill and that they gave multiple notices alerting the marina to the water shutoff.

Tahoe Keys Marina — which is owned by Chicago-based developers Robert and Donna Krilich, but operated locally by general manager Robert Spinnato — says that they paid the water bill, but TKPOA allocated the funds incorrectly, putting them toward water quality instead of water usage.

At the first two court appearances on July 13 and 18, Judge Kingsbury denied the marina’s petitions to turn back on the water due to issues with the business names under which the filings were made. (The marina was in the process of changing its name from Tahoe Keys Marina and Yacht Club, LLC to Tahoe Keys Marina Management, Inc. and the necessary steps to complete that name change had not been completed. Neither business name could be considered a legitimate plaintiff.)

At the most recent court appearance, the marina’s attorney Michael Matuska said that there was a non-written agreement in 2009 between the marina and TKPOA that allowed Tahoe Keys property owners to launch a “limited class of boat” free of charge. In exchange, said Matuska, TKPOA would handle weed control in the marina without charge.

Matuska alleged that property owners launched boats of commercial size for free, which should have been charged a fee of $250, while TKPOA continued to bill the marina for weed control. When the marina asked for a credit for the money that went to weed control to be put towards water usage, the request was denied, according to Matuska.

In response, TKPOA attorney Michael Rounds said that there was never anything in the agreement about the size of the crafts, and that this alleged credit is unrelated to the water bill. He said the agreement with the boats and weed control is another matter entirely, describing the argument as a “red herring.”

Ultimately, Judge Kingsbury agreed.

“The issue seems to be a moving target,” said Kingsbury, referring to previous arguments made by the marina in court that the bill was paid, and now the new topic of an agreement on boat launching and weed control.

After denying the marina’s request, Kingsbury agreed to a hearing. The tentative court date is Thursday, Aug. 3, at 9 a.m. This could change depending on the court’s availability.

As for turning the water back on, Kingsbury said she is “concerned for the tenants who are being kept away from their homes” and would instruct TKPOA to turn the water back on once the marina has posted the money.

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