Nevada court decides Tahoe beach is private, not public
November 11, 2014
RENO — A longtime Lake Tahoe lawyer said Tuesday he will give up his long legal fight for more public access to some private beaches along the lake's affluent north shore after the Nevada Supreme Court rejected his appeal.
The decision came a day after the high court upheld a lower court ruling that the Incline Village General Improvement District has the right to allow beach access only to residents who lived there when the district bought the property in 1968.
Attorney Steven Kroll, who lives in neighboring Crystal Bay, filed his lawsuit over the restrictions in 2008.
He argues that he is entitled to access because Crystal Bay merged with Incline Village in 1995 and all dues-paying members should be treated equally.
The Nevada Supreme Court disagreed, primarily citing earlier rulings against Kroll and others by the state court in Washoe County, a federal judge in Reno, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
"It feels very bad to be a second-class citizen," Kroll told The Associated Press. "But this is the end of the road on this one."
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Kroll said Washoe County had made it clear in approving the merger between Incline Village and Crystal Bay that the resulting district has the authority to provide facilities for public recreation.
He and others had argued the district abused its authority by closing the beaches.
The district has "turned this precious recreational property on Lake Tahoe from the 'facility for public recreation' it was designated by Washoe County to be, into a publicly financed enclave of luxury and privilege," he wrote in his appeal.
Stephen Balkenbush, a Reno lawyer representing Incline Village, wrote in his legal filing that the district was not required to provide "a general town commons as is the case with a public park."
Nevada Chief Justice Mark Gibbons said in Monday's 7-0 ruling that the beaches were purchased with the use of public bonds paid for by residents living within the district as it was constituted in 1968.
He said Kroll cited almost no legal authority to support his argument that the former Crystal Bay General Improvement District residents were treated unfairly.
"I've never seen a lawsuit reviewed by so many different courts and affirmed at every level," Balkenbush said Tuesday. "That's the end."