Piers and Buoys at Lake Tahoe
Piers and Buoys at Lake Tahoe
If you are considering buying a property at Lake Tahoe, having direct access to the lake can increase the value of your home. Many communities around the North and West shores of Lake Tahoe have homeowner associations that allow access to a pier and/or buoy field.
Those who aspire to purchase a lakefront home will need to know the status of the piers and buoys that come with the property. One would think having a lakefront home entitles you to build a pier and place buoys on the lake, but that is not the case. It is important to work with an agent who understands which properties have access to homeowner associations and how to investigate the legality of any buoy and pier.
A lakefront property with a private pier can increase the value of the property up to $2million or more. A lakefront home without a pier holds less value because it has become very difficult to obtain a permit to build one. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency or TRPA has regulated this in the past, and currently there is litigation to block a revised plan that would have allowed more piers and buoys on Lake Tahoe.
It is estimated that 4,400 buoys around Lake Tahoe are legal, with 768 legal piers. The history of why getting a permit is so difficult goes back to 2008, when the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) adopted new shore zone regulations. This capped the number of new buoys and piers and established rules to protect the shoreline. They began a permitting and registration process to address the many unauthorized buoys on Lake Tahoe.
The same year, the League to Save Lake Tahoe filed a suit against TRPA's new policy, alleging that the environmental analysis failed to consider the effects of both legal and illegal buoys on Lake Tahoe. In 2010 a judge agreed. TRPA updated their shoreline review and by 2012, a federal judge allowed the building of more than 100 piers and 1900 buoys. However, the legal battle to stop this plan continues today.
When Is a Sundeck a Pier?
Pier additions are allowed and can include adding a boat lift, as long as it is not in fish habitat. However, brand new piers and new buoys fall under the moratorium. Recently, the former estate of Ty Cobb was purchased by buyers who escaped the moratorium by convincing regulators that a sun deck that extended to the water's edge, was actually a pier. You can see in the above picture taken in 2013 that their sundeck was really a sundeck. They appear to have used a loophole and are allowed to extend the pier simply because the water finally rose high enough to reach this 'pier!' Read more.
Until the TRPA rewrites their environmental document and adopts new ordinances, piers and buoys will remain on hold.
There are many nuances to resort home ownership in Lake Tahoe and working with a seasoned professional is very important. I specialize in the luxury market and would love to show you properties that have access to what makes Lake Tahoe homeownership so special...living on and enjoying the lake!