Tahoe Donner Beach Club Marina is an approximately 2.5‐acre parcel on the eastern shore of Donner Lake which the Association owns and operates as a private amenity. It is open to members, their guests, and people who have guest cards (unaccompanied guests or renters who get guest cards at their rental). A boat launch ramp, sandy beach and dock, changing rooms, recreational watercraft rentals and storage, and café are among the facilities. Although the marina amenity is very popular with members and guests, a 2018 FlashVote survey of members indicated a significant number of complaints about lack of parking and overcrowding at the marina.
The marina is open from Memorial Day to early October – 19 weeks, with the busy period being approximately 7 weeks from the end of June through the third week of August. Popular activities are beach usage and swimming; kayak, paddleboard, and peddle boat rentals; kayak and paddleboard storage and use; and launching of kayaks, paddleboards, and power boats that are stored off-site.
According to surveys, approximately 140 properties regularly use the boat ramp. TD day camp programs use the marina on Wednesdays and there is a fenced clubhouse and lawn for the kids program at the end of the parking lot. The marina holds special events, such as the cardboard boat race, and hosts programs such as the historic kayak tours, water kids club, and windsurfing and sailing clinics.
There are approximately 40,000 visits in a typical summer period; 2017 was slightly busier than 2018 as smoky conditions or frequent windy days affected usage in 2018. July accounts for about half the visits, or more than 600 a day, peaking to 1,000 or more on 4th of July and most Saturdays. Unaccompanied guests account for about 20% of average usage and up to 25% on peak weekends and holidays. While other amenities may have busier days than the marina, the month of July at the marina is very busy at a small site with constrained parking.
The principal challenges for the marina are parking capacity, overcrowding on the beach, and inadequate space for food preparation, limiting the menu options. Power boat launching was closed one year because of low water, but was open in 2018 until low water closed it in September. The number of boat launches in 2018 was significantly lower than previous years, perhaps because Donner and Tahoe have separate inspection programs (if you are inspected and stickered for one lake, you cannot use the other without a new inspection).
There are 32 regular spaces (28 along the south fence), 11 extended boat trailer spaces, and 4 disabled slots. It is rare that the boat/trailer parking spaces are filled, and staff removes the cones to allow cars to park in some of the boat trailer spaces during peak afternoon periods (boat launching and trailer storage is greater in mornings and evenings when the wind is less).
There is considerable angle parking on the dirt along the south side of Donner Pass Road (DPR) against the marina fence. There is some danger as visibility is poor when drivers back through the bike lane. Paving and striping the parking is possible but would reduce the number of spaces as the Town of Truckee would want parallel parking and landscaped dividers every few spaces. Marina employees park outside the marina on Donner Pass Road.
Attempts to operate shuttle service from extra parking at the high school have not been successful,; there is resistance to unloading gear and taking a shuttle. While there has been discussion about leasing land from Caltrans across DPR, the beach capacity is also an issue so it may not be desirable to greatly expand marina parking.
Restricting parking to beach users during peak period has been considered. This was rejected due to the difficulty of enforcement and likely push back from TD members who park at the marina while biking, jogging, or using the state park dog beach.
Beach Capacity and Shade
There is limited space on the beach. Staff has restricted use of Easy Ups because they take too much space and interfere with other people. Some shade on the beach would be desirable; staff will explore temporary or permanent shade structures that could be placed at the back of the beach. Encouraging people to use the shadier upper grass area would also provide an alternative area. On a busy day, people do infringe on other people’s space, and there have been conflicts. More parking would exacerbate this issue.
A variety of suggestions have been considered for the marina facility, including ideas of expanding the kitchen space in order to provide greater food options, expanding the decking, glassing in the deck to have more sheltered space, etc. Smaller operational enhancements have improved the facility but no significant Development Fund projects are envisioned at this time.
The short season makes members of the sub-committee question the priority of capital expenditure to expand the kitchen area. The building is approximately 21 years old and remodeling/expansion would trigger code upgrades. Options to consider would include using the TD food truck, bringing in food prepared off-site, or leasing space to a third party food truck during the limited peak periods. Since there is a large gate in the fence to the upper grass area, it might be possible to park the food truck there, improving the distribution of customers somewhat.
The requests for kayak and paddleboat storage exceed the capacity. Concepts for higher stacking of kayaks and use of a forklift were considered and rejected due to wind concerns, cost, and inability of a fork lift to access both sides of a rack. Charging higher rates for storage and offering one month options are other options, and may be considered if demand keeps increasing well beyond capacity.
With the ability to track the number of unaccompanied guests (higher fee), the GPC Subcommittee reviewed the numbers to determine whether short-term renters or owners and their guests are responsible for the perceived overcrowding at the marina. Data for summer 2018 indicated that approximately 18-20% of facility users used a guest card (up to 25% on peak Saturdays and the 4th of July) and a further 20% were guests who came with members. The subcommittee recommends the use of peak period pricing or weekend restriction for unaccompanied guests during summer 2019 to determine whether this reduces peak period marina congestion.
Members interested in volunteering to work on the GPC Subcommittee that will develop the Beach Club Marina amenity master plan are invited to contact GPC Chair Michael Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All members are welcome to volunteer – you need not be a member of the GPC to participate.
Meetings + Members
Meetings are held on an irregular basis as needed.
- Michael Fajans (Chair)*
- Michael Bledsoe
- James Cobert
- Michael Sullivan (GPC Chair)
- Ali Kovach (marina manager)
Members are welcome to participate as an individual, or with a group of friends or neighbors. Please contact GPC Chair Michael Sullivan at email@example.com .
*The Beach Club Marina Subcommittee was chaired by Michael Fajans until his appointment to the Board of Directors in December 2018. During his term on the Board, the contact for the Beach Club Marina Subcommittee is GPC Chair Michael Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Contact us email@example.com