Three property owners in the Lake Tahoe Basin have agreed to pay more than $50,000 in fines for illegal tree removal and unauthorized land clearing and construction.
The fines are part of settlement agreements to be considered by the Governing Board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Wednesday at Kings Beach.
Robert McIntyre, 53, has agreed to pay $35,000 for the removal of seven trees in Placer County off Kings Way. He is also required to replant trees to restore the land.
About 20 trees on the property had been marked for cutting with special blue paint approved by the TRPA. But when TRPA forester Jesse Jones inspected the property, he noticed seven trees on the ground that should not have been cut.
The trees were marked with blue paint, but chemical tests indicated it was not provided by the TRPA.
McIntyre is a contractor who has built homes in the basin since 1972 without any violations related to tree cutting. He admits that he had the trees cut, but says he has no idea who used illegal paint to mark them.
TRPA staff says removal of the trees enhanced the property's view of the lake. McIntyre said he had already sold the property when the trees were taken out, making view enhancement a moot issue from his perspective.
"I know all the rules; I just don't go cutting trees down," McIntyre, 53, said. "I don't know who marked it. I can point fingers, but I have no proof."
McIntyre said he has agreed to the settlement of $5,000 for each tree removed because it would cost too much and take too long to figure out what happened.
"I can fight it and go on at some point getting attorneys involved and pay $150 an hour," he said. "But it is easier for me to pay it and move on. Life is too short."