Property Owners Can Help Keep Tahoe Blue
If you own property in Tahoe, you can help Keep Tahoe Blue by doing just a few simple things.
Part of living in a forested community is living with the risk of wildfire. Catastrophic wildfire can be devastating to the community, ecosystem and the lake. Property owners are required to do their part to protect their community and forests from wildfire by keeping their property defensible. This includes clearing flammable forest debris nearest to the home and removing dead and down trees. To protect Lake Tahoe, it's best to leave a thin layer of pine needle duff over bare soil, but not within a few feet of the home. Defensible space and BMPs can work together.
For a free site evaluation and information, visit the Nevada Fire Safe Council, which serves both California and Nevada communities at the lake.
Tahoe’s black bears are smart, curious and formidable foragers. They have become accustomed to eating trash left out for collectors. When property owners are irresponsible about securing their trash or other bear attractants, bears have been known to break into houses, causing considerable property damage.
All jurisdictions in Tahoe require bear-proof trash containers. Low-cost plastic containers are on sale at many hardware stores. Higher-cost metal containers are required on all new construction.
To learn more about how to safely and humanely deter bears, visit the Bear League.
Most property in Tahoe comes with a development right, but the amount of allowable development, called “coverage,” varies depending on the type of land. Meadows and wetlands are considered sensitive lands, so development is limited to 1-3 percent on that type of property. Other lands come with higher development potential, up to 30 percent. Owners of single-family developable lots must purchase or otherwise acquire a second building right, called an “allocation,” to build a home. During periods of high demand, there have been lotteries and waiting lists for such allocations. Another way to acquire an allocation is by tearing town a blighted home.
A common fallacy in Tahoe is that garages and decks are illegal. Most property owners are now able to build garages and make additions, if they follow the rules. If a property owner wants to build more than is allowed on their lot, they may purchase additional development potential from the two state land conservancies, which acquire and retire coverage on sensitive lands throughout the basin.
Some landowners at Tahoe do not follow development restrictions, which exacerbates Tahoe’s water quality problems. They build permanent structures without the proper permits. Serious fines have been levied for such infractions. The minimum fine from the TRPA is $5,000.
Following the rules means protecting the lake. Please, do your part to Be Blue.