Tahoe boat 'real estate' costs rising

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE - Yet another symptom of Lake Tahoe's high cost of living: Boat docks appear limited in quantity and are increasingly costly to rent.

Boating enthusiasts need only look in the classified ads or observe the number of trailers crowding city streets to get a glimpse of the law of supply and demand - especially in the busy summer season.

The situation has been a burden for Mike Jacobus.

He's looked for a permanent spot for his 40-foot boat for eight years.

"Everything is full or too small," said Jacobus, who has looked for docks at marinas from Sunnyside and Tahoe City to Glenbrook and Lakeside.

He's been "burning favors" with friends who have docks until he finds a place to rent year after year. "I'm wearing out my welcome."

He's seen the boat dock rental fee in the Tahoe Keys Marina double in five years.

Over the last seven years, Lois Wooldridge has paid $600 to rent a boat dock from a property owner for four months. Last year, she paid $750 to use a dock for half the year. This year, she settled for one that costs $700 for four months, and this deal came to her only because she knew the property owner.

From the classifieds to bulletin boards, docks may now go as high as $1,600 to $2,000. The majority of those listed are owned by the 270 homeowners in the Keys. Many consider the docks an investment.

The Tahoe Keys Beach and Harbor Association rents 230 of its slips.

The 239 slips at the Tahoe Keys Marina stay full, with a 20-person waiting list to rent for the year. These slips have gone up about $100 in the last five years to $500 a month.

"One thing that's happened is the supply and demand," marina owner Ray Carreau said. "We sure don't serve the public. We've got trailers parked to the end of the world."

Carreau has also seen the boats increase in size over those of prior years. That's why he's swapped 50 small slips for larger ones. He's applied to replace 100 more with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the bistate regulatory agency that also requires permits for buoys. TRPA estimated it would take a few years to identify the thousands of buoys used to anchor boats without permits.

Meanwhile, Lakeside Marina's 92 slips remain full. Those boat owners have also seen their rates double to between $900 and $1,300 a year.

Slip expansion plans at the Keys Marina a few years ago led to a legal settlement between the TRPA and the League to Save Lake Tahoe - but no more docks.

"We've had a lot of people ask about renting docks," South Lake Tahoe Yacht Club member Marvin Goshorn said.

One person asked if they could rent the other side of his boat dock. He declined.

"One of the tragedies of boating at Lake Tahoe is - unless you're sleeping on it or have a slip - you have to haul it out every night," he said.

Goshorn has noticed an exorbitant number of trailers and boats clogging residential neighborhoods in the city.

Talk of a deal between the Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association and the Lake Tahoe Airport to store trailers at the aviation station have stalled because of air-traffic restrictions.

South Lake Tahoe code enforcement officers haven't received many complaints this year, Tim Donley said. But the police department has received several calls about illegal parking in neighborhoods. Officers tag them with a notice to move in three days, or they'll be towed.


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