Beach Club Marina Project Article

Meeting on contested Tahoe Donner marina project scheduled for Friday night
By Margaret Moran – mmoran@sierrasun.com
Published on Friday, September 28, 2012

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The Tahoe Donner Association will host a Beach Club Marina project meeting Friday evening to provide information and get additional feedback from homeowners about the proposal, which has sparked some environmental concerns.The main issue appears to be over the cutting down of trees within Tahoe Donner, a 7,000-acre homeowner association that features both public and private amenities such as a golf course, cross country trails and tennis courts, in order to make way for marina renovations.

As the proposal stands, 19 Jeffrey pine trees on the upper lawn out of 121 trees in marina area are proposed to be felled, according to Tom Johns, president of the Tahoe Donner Board of Directors, all of which were chosen by the association’s licensed forester.

Three of the 19 trees proposed to be cut are dead, and about another six are either dying or diseased, he said.

“The rest are really too crowded together, and by removing them, it’ll make a much healthier forest,” Johns said.

Those challenging the project are calling for fewer trees to be cut.

“With a few modifications we can save a number of trees,” said Patricia Schifferle, a resident of Tahoe Donner.

Johns said there is a lot misinformation out about how many trees are proposed to be cut, which he hopes can be cleared up at tonight’s meeting.

“There’s a tremendous amount of rumor and innuendo and misstatement of fact out there about what this is all about,” he said. “It only sounds like we’re going in and clear cutting the whole thing.”


The project

As the proposal stands, a new terrace will be constructed, the deck will be expanded with new glass installed to block the wind for diners, the upper picnic area will be enlarged while making it ADA compliant, and the beach area will be extended. Grading and drainage improvements will also be made to reduce current beach erosion problems.

These renovations were decided upon based on feedback from homeowners who attended past board meetings, Johns said.

“The marina is one of our most used areas, and if you go down there on a summer weekend, you can barely get in the place, and we do need more room,” he said.

The proposed changes to the marina have been met with mostly positive reviews, said Robb Etnyre, general manager of Tahoe Donner.

“Overall, homeowners are very excited about the project,” he said.

Schifferle, however, does have some concerns about the project beyond the cutting down of trees.

“Our usefulness is access to Donner Lake. I think expanding the eating place would really harm people’s access to the lake,” she said, by creating less space on the lower lawn for people to drop off their boats and other beach equipment. “It would cause congestion and a staging problem for people at the lake.”

Homeowner feedback such as Schifferle’s will be considered at tonight’s meeting, Etnyre said.

The goal of those challenging the project — which includes the Sierra Club and the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation — is to modify the project and to get it scaled back, according to Schifferle.

Etnyre said there is no definite date as of now for when the marina renovation plan will go before the Truckee Planning Commission. A commission review was planned for Sept. 18, according to a press release, but that was postponed by the Tahoe Donner Board of Directors in order to get additional membership feedback and to clear up any misinformation.

Johns said the hope is to start the marina renovations next spring.

October 2, 2012

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Marina Project Postponed

Tahoe Donner’s planned renovations to the Beach Club Marina decks and lawns on Donner Lake, scheduled for review in front of the Truckee Planning Commission on September 18, has been postponed by the association’s board of directors. Although the project had been reviewed in several community forums over the last six months, a last minute appeal by a few members has not fallen on deaf ears. On September 18, the board of directors voted to postpone the project review with the Town Planning Commission in order to allow an additional comment period for the membership on the project and also to correct some fundamental misinformation being distributed on the project.

The board has scheduled an additional membership input meeting for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, September 28, at Northwoods Clubhouse, to allow members to express their concerns with the project in a public forum while also allowing updated detailed project design to be communicated first hand. Tom Johns, president of the board of directors noted, “Membership feedback is extremely important to the board of directors, particularly in our diverse community of 25,000 members. With the feedback we received over the past week from a few concerned members and out-of-area environmental groups, it is clear that there is some significant misinformation on the project design and scope that was not consistent with the actual plans.”

General manager Robb Etnyre commented, “Tahoe Donner has a great track record of excellent stewardship of more than 7,000 acres of land in the Sierra, north of Truckee. In the past two years we have protected more than 1,000 acres of unique scenic viewscape surrounding Tahoe Donner from development, along with regular reforestation efforts, that has included planting more than 5,000 trees last year alone. It would be extremely inconsistent for us not to apply the same core values and guiding principles to the Marina project as some have indicated.”

The planned improvements to the Beach Club Marina include a new terrace, deck expansion, and new glass around the expanded deck to block the wind for diners. Tahoe Donner will also enlarge the upper picnic area, addressing ADA accessibility needs in the process. Expansion of the upper picnic area will involve enlarging the lawn and thinning existing trees on the upper lawn in keeping with the project design and healthy forest management practices, as well as other landscaping improvements. Grading and drainage improvements will also be implemented to curb current beach erosion problems.

The Beach Club Marina will be closed for a few months during the construction phase for these improvements. Once complete, the Marina will have more capacity to better meet the needs of homeowners—for events, family barbecues, or just enjoying a day at the lake.

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September 18, 2012

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Trails Master Plan Meeting

Are you an avid user of the Tahoe Donner Trail System? Please consider attending the Trails Master Plan Meeting from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 15, at the meeting room in Northwoods Clubhouse. Tahoe Donner management along with Alta Design + Planning, Tahoe Donner’s trail consulting firm, will hold an initial meeting to discuss the Trails Master Plan validation project happening this fall. You can view the draft Trails Master Plan here.

September 14, 2012

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Bear Safety

According to the Bear League, 2007 was a record year for bear deaths in the Truckee Tahoe region. A recorded 120 bears were hit by cars or destroyed for their continued annoyance and potential threat to the public.

Wild animals naturally fear people; as long as you keep your distance, they will generally not bother you, unless the animal has become accustomed to human contact. When bears have easy access to human food sources, including trash, it has been observed that their behavior changes. In these cases, bears are no longer cautious and fearful around people, and this may result in property damage and even threaten human safety.

You may request bear-awareness stickers for your dumpsters by calling Nichole Dorr at (530)582 -2909. We recommend you secure dumpsters with a carabineer, so it will allow the garbage company to maintain easy access to the trash.

Facts about Local Bears

Black bears are the only species of bear in California. They range in color from blond to black; brown is the most common color. Black bears can run up to 35 miles per hour, climb trees and swim. Never run from a bear. As winter approaches, bears will forage for food up to 20 hours per day, storing as much fat as possible to hibernate during the winter months. Bears hibernate less if food, such as garbage, is available. Males are much larger than females and can weigh up to 500 pounds; the average male weighs 300 pounds. A typical diet for a wild bear consists of berries, plants, nuts, roots, honey, honeycomb, insects, insect larvae, carrion and small mammals.

There are simple steps that you can follow to protect bears and other wildlife from a potentially deadly encounter. Remember, we must all act responsible in bear country to keep the bears Alive and Wild.

Keep in mind that bears and other animals are attracted to anything edible or smelly. Take precautions by using the following guidelines:

In town:

  • Utilize public trash receptacles and dumpsters while visiting local parks and recreational facilities. Pay special attention when securing receptacle or dumpster lids.
  • Keep bear-proof trash receptacles and dumpsters closed, latched and locked at all times.
  • Do not leave trash, groceries or pet food in your car. If you absolutely must leave edible or smelly items in your car, then make sure the items are in airtight containers and locked in your trunk.
  • Stow all edible or smelly products, including food, suntan lotion, insect repellent, soap, toothpaste and candles properly. Keep these products inside your home or secured in bear lockers while camping.

Camping:

  • Remember, NEVER keep food in your tent.
  • Keep a clean camp. Immediately clean up after meals, and store food and garbage, as outlined above. Keep barbecue grills away from tents.
  • If you are backpacking, remember that if you pack it in, then you must pack it out. Remember to be prepared to use a bear-sling to hoist food high up on a tree limb. In alpine conditions, use a bear canister for all food and toiletries

At home or work:

  • Do not run. Assert your dominance by standing tall and making loud noises to scare the bear away.
  • Never place trash and recycling at your curb prior to your collection day.
  • If the property uses a shared dumpster for trash and recycling, or if the property is commercial, make sure to close, latch and lock the dumpster lid. Never leave dumpster lids open and unsecured.
  • Periodically disinfect trash containers to remove odors.
  • Always remove the key from a bear canister after making sure the container is properly secured.
  • Harvest fruit off trees as soon as soon it is ripe, and promptly collect the fruit that falls to the ground.
  • Keep bird feeders off decks and inaccessible to bears.
  • Keep barbecue grills clean.
  • Securely block access to potential hibernation sites, such as crawl spaces under decks and buildings.
  • Keep doors and windows closed and locked when you are away from the property.

Anywhere:

  • Be sure to allow the bear free clearance if it attempts to get away.
  • Never get between a mother bear and her cubs.
  • Slowly walk away from any bear and make loud noises.
  • Although attacks are very rare, if you are attacked, FIGHT BACK AGGRESSIVELY! Do not roll up in a ball and play dead.

In the woods:

  • Do not run.
  • Make eye contact, but don’t stare.
  • Pick up small children and make yourself appear large.
  • Stay calm and quiet; back away slowly.

August 22, 2012

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Keep Tahoe Donner Safe

While the Tahoe Donner Association enjoys a relatively low crime rate, there are instances of criminal and/or inappropriate activity. The point of this article is to encourage members to be aware of their surroundings at all times and be willing to report suspicious or inappropriate activity to appropriate agencies.                                                                

The police cannot function effectively without the assistance of responsible citizens. They need your help in reporting suspicious activity. Some people fail to call because they are not aware of what is considered suspicious. Others notice suspicious activity and assume someone else will call. Still others fail to call because they feel they are bothering the police. 

Tahoe Donner Association encourages members and guests to call the Truckee Police Department immediately if they feel a situation or circumstance is suspicious. DO NOT think you are bothering the police; this is why they are there. DO NOT be embarrassed if your suspicions prove unfounded. 

If the incident does not appear to be a crime in progress, you may call the following Truckee Police Department non-emergency number:  (530) 550-2328.

IF IN DOUBT, CALL! It is better to err on the side of safety. The following is a list of the type of incidents that should be reported to the Truckee Police Department by dialing 9-1-1:

  • Someone needing police, fire, or medical assistance
  • Alarms sounding or glass being broken
  • Someone loitering around cars or going car to car peering into them
  • Slow moving vehicles (at night without lights) driving aimlessly
  • Apparent business transactions being conducted from a vehicle
  • Someone being forced into a vehicle
  • Someone seen with a weapon

While some, if not, all of the above situations could have innocent explanations, the Truckee Police Department would rather prevent illegal activity than be called to investigate a crime after it is committed.

If you are calling to report a problem and the situation changes before the officer arrives, call back and provide the updated information to the dispatcher. This could change the priority level in regard to the response from the Police Department.

Since the Tahoe Donner Association is within Truckee town limits, it falls within the jurisdiction of the Truckee Police Department. If you suspect that the suspicious behavior that you detected is actually a crime in progress, please call 9-1-1. 

The police dispatcher will need the following information:

  • What is the person’s last known location and direction of travel?
  • What made the person’s actions suspicious?
  • Did the person say anything?  If so, what?
  • Did the person appear intoxicated?
  • Were there any weapons displayed or was there the threat of a weapon?

Also, be prepared to give information about the person including:

  • Race
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Complexion
  • Clothing
  • Eye and hair color
  • Facial hair
  • Scars
  • Tattoos

If the suspicious person is in a vehicle, please provide the vehicle make, model, color, and license plate number if you can.

Suspicious activity observed outside the Truckee town limits should be reported to the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office. Their non-emergency number is: (530) 582-7842. Dialing 9-1-1 will connect you with both the Truckee Police Department and the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office. 

If you observe suspicious activity at any Tahoe Donner Association facilities or amenities, you are encouraged to call the Tahoe Donner Security Department at: (530) 587-9495 (office) or (530) 448-9076 (cell). If you are unable to reach the Tahoe Donner Security Department, please call the Truckee Police Department immediately. 

Tahoe Donner Association covenants violation complaints may be submitted verbally at the Architectural Standards Office in person, or via telephone to Compliance Inspector Roy Richner at (530) 587-9406.  Complaints may also be submitted by FAX:(530)587-9419 or via e-mail.

 Examples of covenants violations: 

  • Fires and/or fire pits
  • Inoperable vehicles
  • Camping on lots or living in recreational vehicles
  • Parking on unsurfaced portion of improved lots
  • Vegetation removal
  • Garbage spills

Remember:  If you do observe what you consider to be suspicious activity, your only job is to report, and law enforcement will take your call seriously and check out the situation.  What you see and report may be invaluable and may save lives.

August 8, 2012

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