Guest column: Don’t change Ordinance 7 until beach lawsuit concludes | SierraSun.com

Guest column: Don’t change Ordinance 7 until beach lawsuit concludes

One would have thought that IVGID’s General Counsel would have told the Trustees that it is not “families” or “parcels” which have been granted exclusive recreational use of the Beach Properties, but “property owners and their tenants” within the 1968 boundaries of the District.

The “family tree” rule was intended to define the limits of who could legally be considered a “property owner” and it is a legal requirement, not mere verbiage. It was meant to prevent touchy-feely definitions that would allow anybody in the world who has the money and the connections to buy their way onto Incline Village’s so-called “private beaches.”

Instead, IVGID’s lawyer is quoted by your newspapers as saying that the changes adopted will have no impact on the beach deed. It appears that the only thing he believes might threaten that document is giving access to people like me, members of IVGID who unwillingly help support this policy with our taxes and carry on as second-class citizens within our own community.

We are excluded, but non-taxpaying non-residents anywhere in the world can come to the beaches under a definition of family that does away with the very meaning of the word, and that is supposedly legal. The revised ordinance “eliminates the government being the dictator of what defines a family,” says IVGID’s Director of Parks and Recreation, laughably. Very Kumbaya, but not very legal.

You don’t have to be a lawyer like I have been for the past 44 years to look at General Counsel Scott Brooke’s legal advice here with a jaundiced eye. This is the same man who wrote an extensive analysis of the beach purchase in 2001 and did not once mention, much less explore, the 1965 Washoe County ordinance that expanded IVGID’s authority to include “recreation” in the first place.

This should be the beginning of any legal analysis, obviously. And in IVGID’s case, the authority is to “provide facilities for public recreation.” How do private beaches comport with that legal limitation? Don’t ask Mr. Brooke or your elected officials, because a full public discussion of this subject has never been allowed to reach the light of day under the District Counsel’s convenient interpretation of the law.

The IVGID Board should seek a second legal opinion on this whole matter, because its present lawyer’s advice is tainted by a conflict of interest, in my opinion. Namely, that he himself is a recipient of a Beach Pass although not a property owner within the 1968 borders of IVGID, or at all. What part of the deed is claimed to permit that? There is none. Neither should the Trustees be making laws about IVGID-owned government property in which they have a personal financial interest not shared by all of their constituents.

Among other evils, that leads to otherwise clear-thinking trustees like Jim Hammerel saying that “our residents value the exclusive nature of our beaches,” hurtfully forgetting once again that he also represents IVGID residents who do not share that belief, who do not share “our” beaches.

Isn’t it interesting that in all this hoo-haw over some linguistic changes in Ordinance 7, the Trustees appear blissfully unaware that the entire issue of IVGID’s legal right to own and run private beaches is now before the Nevada Supreme Court?

Are they so certain of legal victory in that forum that they can spend hours and hours on a plan that could be upended completely in a few months? Changes to IVGID’s beach policies should be rescinded and not revisited until after the Supreme Court has spoken.

Steven Kroll is a Crystal Bay resident whose lawsuit against IVGID regarding beach access is before the Nevada Supreme Court. Learn more by visiting http://www.tahoedailytribune.com, keyword “Steven Kroll.”