Placer County seeks to update its Lake Tahoe pier regulations

Published Feb. 9, 2020

The Placer County Board of Supervisors today voted to move forward with updating the county’s Lake Tahoe Shorezone Ordinance to reduce regulatory overlap with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. The result is that county permits will only be required for piers that require a building permit or for piers located in a county property interest.

The existing ordinance was adopted by the Board of Supervisors in the late 1960s to regulate the design and construction of numerous types of structures, including piers, boat ramps, buoys, and shoreline protective structures in the shorezone of any body of water within a tributary to the Truckee River and Lake Tahoe.

While a large portion of Lake Tahoe’s shoreline lies within Placer County, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has the responsibility and authority to regulate uses and structures around the entirety of Lake Tahoe under the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact. 

In August 2019, TRPA updated its regulations regarding the permitting of shorezone structures within the Lake Tahoe Basin, and established a schedule allowing for new pier construction lakewide. With the recent TRPA update, the county recognized its existing ordinance contained duplicative and conflicting requirements. The goal of the proposed ordinance update is to streamline the pier permitting process. 

Consistent with existing practice, any pier that requires an electrical or plumbing permit will require a building permit and any construction on a county property interest will require an encroachment permit. New piers or modifications to existing piers on county beach areas will need to obtain an updated permit that requires public passage across the county beach. Staff proposes a one-time permit application fee ranging from $450 to $750 to cover the staff time necessary to research records, coordinate with other departments and agencies and process the site-specific pier permit.

“Retaining public access to the county beach areas has always been a top priority of the county,” said Rebecca Taber, Deputy Director of the Engineering and Surveying Division of the Community Development Resources Agency.

The county undertook multiple public outreach efforts to inform the proposed ordinance update, such as presenting the proposed update to the North Tahoe Regional Advisory Council in July 2020 and again in September 2020. The public comments received at both meetings were from the Tahoe Lakefront Owners’ Association, and staff has worked collaboratively with the TLOA to clarify and refine the ordinance language.

After today’s approval and first reading, the Lake Tahoe Shorezone Ordinance will return to the board for a second reading and adoption at the Feb. 16 meeting. If approved, the ordinance and new permit fees would go into effect April 17.