Shorezone plan grilled by public |

Shorezone plan grilled by public

Kara Fox
Sierra Sun

As Tahoe’s North Shore is set to take the bulk of shoreline development over the next 22 years, residents question the need for more piers and buoys on the lake.

“Personally, I feel ecotourism is the way of the future. I feel like it is going in that direction and we need to lead it into that direction,” said Harry King, a kayaker and owner of Enviro-Rents in Kings Beach. “In my line of business, I see people turning away in mid-summer because of too many boats on the lake.”

King was one of more than 45 attendees at a public meeting Tuesday designed to educate residents on the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s proposed shorezone development program. The proposal would allow a maximum of 230 new piers and 1,862 new buoys on the lake over 22 years.

The plan has been met with criticism from environmentalists, kayakers, boaters and lakefront owners, but the bi-state regulatory agency maintains this is the best plan to meet everyone’s needs.

“We’re trying to find a balance of piers on every parcel and no piers at all,” said TRPA executive director John Singlaub. “There are no environmental reasons to have fewer. Not liking piers isn’t enough.”

Although the North Shore could accommodate as many as 176 piers based on the agency’s density standards, Singlaub said other factors will be taken into consideration when allowing new piers. As proposed, the plan would allow no more than 10 new private piers a year. Singlaub said the plan would be reviewed every year by the agency’s governing board, allowing for a reduction of development in the plan, but not an increase.

John Hitchcock, TRPA principal planner, said the North Shore will experience the most development because of parcel ownership and other factors.

“A lot of the North Tahoe shoreline is located in prime fish habitat, which was closed to development. It is now open under the new proposal,” Hitchcock said. “And whereas the East Shore and South Shore are mostly under public ownership, a good amount of the North Shore is private ownership.”

Those in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting were also concerned how enforcement of proposed regulations would be carried out, like the 600-foot no wake zone and the 7 mph boat speed limit in Emerald Bay.

Singlaub and his staff indicated that the increased fees for piers and buoys will go toward enforcement, including hiring additional staff.

Colleen Shade, TRPA’s branch chief, said any projects currently under consideration in the basin would have to conform to the new regulations, unless the project will be approved by the governing board before the plan is implemented.

The North Tahoe Marina is proposing adding 183 new boat slips, but TRPA’s shorezone plan allows only a maximum of 235 public boat slips for the life of the plan. However, no restrictions are proposed to dictate when those boat slips can be applied for.

“It could potentially happen all in one project, but I would be surprised,” Singlaub said.

While the League to Save Lake Tahoe and others have questions over TRPA’s mitigation plan to reduce pollution from boats on the lake, the agency says it works with “well-established baselines and monitoring.”

TRPA staff will establish a new baseline for areas that have not been monitored and is working with a new Motorized Watercraft Technical Working Group made up of federal and state agencies and universities.

The public will have another opportunity on Jan. 17 at 9:30 a.m. in Stateline to make public comment before the board votes on the proposal at the end of this month.

TRPA Governing Board Meeting

North Tahoe Community Conference Center

January 31, 9:30 a.m.

For more information, call (775) 588-4547 x235 or visit

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