My Turn: Shorezone is a litmus test for TRPA | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Shorezone is a litmus test for TRPA

Paul Vatistas

I attended the TRPA Shorezone public meeting Jan. 31 and it was a little disappointing. The Shorezone decision will be a litmus test of whether the TRPA Governing Board is in touch with our local community and on track with its Pathway 2007 initiative.I wish to commend the TRPA staff who clearly put a lot of work into the Shorezone issue and communicated the current plan well. However the public meeting was disappointing because the whole tone from the Board seemed disrespectful to those who had taken the time to attend. The chairperson seemed more interested in adjourning for lunch than hearing from even one of the over one hundred people attending the meeting. Remember this meeting was caste as one to take input from the public.After lunch, the chairperson made clear several times that she was more interested in comment from public agencies than from the public. Public agencies made clear their concerns on water quality and educated us all about cryptosporidium.The Shorezone policy as it is currently formulated is too weak in protecting the lake and too generous in giving private landowners construction rights on state property i.e., below the low water mark. My major points: The TRPA Planning Commission and Board need to judge the Shorezone Ordinance very carefully and make their decision as trustees of a national treasure. They cannot be unduly swayed by the personalities of friends who may happen to be lake front owners or boat owners. The lake is not private property, but state property. Lakefront owners cannot claim any rights to build structures in the lake beyond their own property boundary at the low water mark. Piers and buoys are a privilege granted to them by the states, and the stewards of this privilege today are the TRPA. Note that you and I have no rights to build a structure on Conservancy or other state lands adjacent to our own properties. This decision has a huge impact on the view of the TRPA by the over 35,000 of the Basin’s homeowners and landowners who do not have lakefront property. The TRPA Board seems inclined to grandfather in illegal piers and buoys. How are they going to challenge other homeowners in the Basin who may have illegal decks or structures? If the TRPA Board accepts the current proposals, its inspectors will have a huge uphill challenge in enforcing its other rules with thousands of Basin homeowners over the next 20 years. The Shorezone plan is light on mitigation measures and does not show enough urgency on implementing them. The Blue Boating program should be initiated this summer with all boat owners, as a way to reduce negative boating impacts on the lake (by the way, I own a boat). The TRPA Board votes in late February on the Shorezone Ordinance. We need to pressure the TRPA to put forward a stronger plan for protecting the Lake. Protecting the Lake is after alla key charter of the TRPA.Paul Vatistas is a resident of Tahoe City.