Guest Column: Land swap would set bad precedent for Lake Tahoe
Recently an issue has arisen in our neighborhood that deserves to see the light of day. Indeed, to prevent such an event taking place behind closed doors, I propose the following:
Master Plan Update: I propose the Crystal Bay-Incline Village Master Plan include language that identifies, protects, preserves and prioritizes the opening of all the community’s vertical public access ways to Lake Tahoe. A vertical accessway provides access from the nearest public roadway to the shoreline. When improved and opened accessways are extremely important because they provide a new way for the public to get to the lake which is extremely valuable in areas with limited or inadequate access.
The issue: Perhaps unbeknownst to any members of our Crystal Bay community, Washoe County has been assessing a land trade of great value to our neighborhood and our Crystal Bay community without much public notification. It only came to our attention because an individual overheard the conversation of a Washoe County Commissioner discussing the matter — the proposed trade of a public lake accessway on Somers Loop in Crystal Bay for a parcel of land with no lake access on the old Ponderosa Ranch in Incline Village.
Public Loss-Private Gain: The trade of the Crystal Bay public accessway to the lake would result in a remarkable increase in the market value of a single private landholding. It would substantially decrease the market value of the surrounding Crystal Bay property and the Crystal Bay community.
Crystal Bay Public Access: Crystal Bay is not allowed on Incline Village beaches. Crystal Bay has inadequate public access to the lake. Every public access way to the lake is of great value to the present and future residents of our community. The Master Plan Update should identify all public accessways and provide language that protects, preserves and prioritizes the opening of all the community’s vertical public accessways.
Bad Precedent: Hundreds of millions of public tax dollars have been invested in Lake Tahoe to preserve it in its pristine beauty for future generations. Millions of tax dollars have been invested acquiring public access to the lake for the benefit of all. Millions of dollars have been invested in Lake Tahoe to prevent private development from closing off the lake to the public. Trading of public lake accessways for land with no lake access and that results in huge private benefit is a bad precedent and a misuse of the public trust.
Therefore, I propose the identification, protection and opening of all vertical public accessways to Lake Tahoe in the Master Plan Update for Incline Village-Crystal Bay. Additionally, I ask all residents of Incline Village, Crystal Bay and Washoe County to email or call Washoe County Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let her know you do not support her proposal to trade the public lake accessway in Crystal Bay for mountain land with no lake access.
Margaret Eadington is a Crystal Bay resident living on Somers Loop, where the piece of county-owned land is proposed to be made private.