Incline Village divided over changes to recreation ordinance
Listen to the story
There's a heated debate going on at Tahoe's North Shore. Last month, elected officials from Incline Village voted to expand access to its highly sought after beaches, but some people there are not happy with this decision.
Phil Reed sells homes in Incline Village and says the exclusive beaches are a big reason people choose to live there.
"One of the main positive things about Incline is that you do get access to the private facilities when you own property here," Reed says.
Reed is one of the many residents who has voiced opposition to changing the recreation ordinance. Under current rules, those living in Incline pay $830 annually on their property. And that allows them and their guests to enjoy the private beaches and the other amenities there. Up until this point, owners could give out guests passes only according to a strict family tree rule. But recently some Incline lawmakers voted to get rid of that, and Phil Reed says this will not only mean more visitors, but also these guests could be anyone the owner chooses.
"We all invested in Incline many, many years ago knowing that the facilities would be private and to open it up to double the use, I think that's a real negative.
Since the Incline board of trustees voted on the issue, the pushback has been so intense that they're reconsidering the changes.
"I've been in town for 35 years and it's been pretty extreme on this one issue and we're seeing people threatening lawsuits, not bodily harm, but close. The way people have been speaking to me and other trustees, I think has just been deplorable," Bruce Simonian says.
Simonian is one of the four board members who voted for the change. Only one voted to keep the family tree rule. Simonian says currently there's no way for them to check whether guests are indeed family members, and what ends up happening is that people lie about it. Because of that, he doesn't think this will change how many people go to the beaches and who those people will be. But, he says not everyone sees it that way.
"So the pushback was anybody can go on to our beaches; you've violated our deed restriction; you're lowering our property values; this is not what we signed up for; it's no longer an exclusive community; on and on and on about now we're going to have gangsters and drug dealers on the beaches," Simonian says.
Now Simonian says he just wants to put the fire out and restore some calm to the community. They'll be holding a public meeting at the beginning of June to revisit the issue and he expects a big turnout. More than 200 people showed up for the last one--the most he's ever seen.