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Public Comment #26 (Tahoe Area Sierra Club) September 25, 2013 Jenna Endres Associate Planner Truckee Town Hall 10183 Truckee Airport Road Truckee CA 96161 RE: Appeal Hearing Before the Truckee Town Council: Affirm the Planning Commission’s Denial of the Proposed Tahoe Donner Marina Expansion Project & Undisclosed Event Center at Donner Lake Dear Ms. Endres: The Tahoe Area Sierra Club applauds and fully supports the Town of Truckee Planning Commissions’ unanimous decision to deny the proposed Tahoe Donner marina expansion project. After two hearings, a site visit, and many hours of trying to work with the applicant to obtain compliance with the Town of Truckee ordinances, the applicant’s obstinate pursuit of waivers of Town codes and policies was properly denied. This project has received unprecedented community and statewide opposition, with over 40 comment letters including California State Parks and California Fish and Wildlife. Over 100 petitioners opposed the project. We have reviewed the latest proposed changes in the Tahoe Donner Association’s [TDA] appeal of the denial of their Marina Expansion project and undisclosed event center. The reduced logging and proposed water pollution controls are modest improvements, but as disclosed at the last two public hearings, the applicant persists in trying to circumvent existing zoning and development code rules in order to obtain a permit for an event and party center, segmenting the project without proper environmental evaluation of the noise, traffic, congestion, parking and light pollution impacts to surrounding residents and the Donner Lake Memorial State Park and the public.1                                                                                                                           1  http://www.tahoedonner.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Exhibit-A-Beach-Club-Marina-Master- Plan.pdf      See also: Jan 2013 Handout G-Director-of-Capital-Projects-Report.pdf Attached.   September 25, 2013 2 The Planning Commission, after extensive deliberation, properly saw through the attempt by the applicant to circumvent the Town of Truckee ordinances, general plan and development code provisions and denied the project. Existing and previous zoning and development code provisions and existing permit provisions do not allow events at this site zoned private residential recreation. To circumvent Planning Staff commercial use criteria, TDA provided the Planning Commission a litany of events they claim they have been holding (in violation of their existing state2 and local permit conditions)—essentially claiming that their success in getting by with past violations now requires the Town to condone future violations. The series of CEQA exemptions for this project have never analyzed these event impacts. The Mitigated Negative Declaration for the proposed project does not analyze impacts from these unpermitted and undisclosed member and commercial events. Nor does it analyze the increased lighting, traffic and other impacts of such events. The Tahoe Donner Association asserts that, because they have gotten away with violating their existing permit conditions, they should be allowed to continue these violations without environmental review and mitigation. This simultaneous seeking of forgiveness and permission would be an egregious violation of the California Environmental Quality Act. This pattern of rolling over past violations and sometimes paying fines seems to be a pattern and practice of the Tahoe Donner Association. In 2010, TDA paid the State Lands Commission penalties for trespass for the expansion of the unpermitted swimming area.3 Absent from that trespass and environmental exemption was analysis and assessment of the impacts from filling in the beach parcel APN 18-340-08, almost doubling its size and rip-rapping the shoreline. The impacts to foraging fish and raptors that feed along these shorelines has not been disclosed or mitigated. State Fish and Wildlife Permits and Clean Water Act permits allowing this discharge into Donner Lake have not been provided. As noted at the April 16th and August 20th Planning Commission hearings, the tripling of the eating area and removal of the lower lawn area, which is used by families, non-motorized boats and paddle boards to access the lake, will create a safety hazard and increase traffic congestion on Donner Pass Road. Existing conditions already create backup and congestion. Reducing the lake access to a 16-17 foot lane will restrict boat launching access to one vehicle at a time.4 This would increase the backup and congestion on Donner Pass Road and create unsafe conditions for pedestrians sharing this access. Existing use of the facility by 40,000 people with over 1,000                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           2  TDA’s existing State Lands permit does not allow commercial events. http://archives.slc.ca.gov/Meeting_Summaries/2010_Documents/12-10-10/Items_and_Exhibits/C36.pdf And TDA’s 1974 lease provisions: Provision 13: [Rules and Regulations]] one can see the lease requires TDA to “observe and comply with all rules and regulations now or hereafter promulgated by any agency of the State of California and…at all times take necessary precautions to prevent pollutions and contamination of the environment …. “Any modifications of natural or existing features of the real property described in this lease, including but not limited to the removal of timber and other flora, which are inconsistent with the authorized uses under this lease are expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of the Lessor;..” Provision 14, “….In no event does this lease authorize construction or excavation activity which causes disturbance of any kind in the waters of Donner Lake.” 3  http://archives.slc.ca.gov/Meeting_Summaries/2010_Documents/12-10-10/Voting_Record.pdf   4  John Black, TDA developer, “Access is 16 or 17 feet at the narrowest area; four to five feet will be striped for pedestrians, leaving a minimum 12-foot lane for vehicles to pass adjacent to pedestrians.” Page 5 Minutes April 16, 2013 Town of Truckee Planning Commission Meeting.   September 25, 2013 3 people on peak days5, along with their power boats, sail boats, kayaks, paddle boards, and windsurfers, will be constrained. Parking is limited to 38 spaces for the entire facility.6 Under the proposed project the expansion of the lower terrace dining area would expand from seating 20 to over 92. Lighting would include 20 ten-foot poles for a facility that purportedly operates during daylight hours. Once the parking lot is full, cars channel back to Donner Pass Road in search of parking. This increased congestion will compound the current traffic created by the over 200,000 users at the adjacent state park and other recreation facilities that use Donner Pass Road.7 We agree with the Planning Commissions’ determination that narrowing the access to the boat launch and beach is not safe and will result in congestion impacts that need to be assessed and mitigated. If TDA’s latest modified project proceeds, a full environmental impact statement must be completed. The impacts of this project and the cumulative impacts to Donner Lake, the surrounding neighbors, the Truckee community, and Donner Lake Memorial State Park should not be brushed aside and this piecemeal approach allowed on Donner Lake, a vital and visible public resource. Permit conditions, along with zoning and development code provisions that prohibit disturbance of 30% slopes, preserve native vegetation and control water runoff and pollution must be strictly enforced. Commercial and member events need to be limited to ten people and violations of existing permits vigorously enforced. Less environmentally damaging alternatives exist for providing ADA access without logging the site and excavating and adding fill to the upper picnic area, which will likely cause harm to remaining trees and impact survival. We strongly support the Planning Commissioners decision and urge the Town Council to sustain it, denying this appeal. The natural and scenic values of this fragile high alpine lake are at stake and need your vigorous enforcement of local and state laws. We appreciate the time and effort the Planning Commission and staff have spent on this project. Respectfully submitted, ! Bob Anderson, Chair Tahoe Area Sierra Club !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! &!http://www.tahoedonner.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/ANNUALREPORT_2012_web.pdf!! 6 Forrest Huisman TDA Environmental Application 18-340-06, 07, 08. 7-9-12. '!http://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/documentShow.cfm?Doc_ID=3015 In 1999, Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District--Total estimate, April through October: 108,640. Donner Memorial State Park: 200,000 visitors annually. ! September 25, 2013 4 January 2013 Tahoe Donner Association Board Handout (G) Capital Projects Report Excerpt: ! September 25, 2013 5 ! !