How To Get A Permit to Build A Boat Dock or Buoy Mooring in Lake Tahoe

This past year it seems like the world moved to Lake Tahoe to enjoy the lifestyle that comes with living and working throughout the High Sierra.  Within this ‘dream-like lifestyle,’ comes visions of working in the morning and heading out on the Lake for an afternoon of wake surfing or waterskiing.

As one who has lived here for over 30 years, and designed lakefront homes at Lake Tahoe, this lifestyle is real and very doable.

However, slipping out onto the crystal clear waters from your own boat dock doesn’t come easy for those who have purchased a Lakefront home and want to add a pier and/or buoy mooring just outside of one’s home office.  Living within the Lake Tahoe Watershed comes with from pretty stringent rules – all for good reasons – to keep the Lake as pristine as it is today.

To secure a permit to build a boat dock or get a mooring is like winning the lottery, yet can be done.

Within the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s website is a section that will help you to better understand the steps one must take to POSSIBLY secure a permit to build your dream dock.  Here are some highlights from their website.

All moorings including buoys, boat lifts, and boat slips are subject to annual registration fees paid through this system. New moorings require a TRPA permit and existing moorings must be registered and/or permitted through the Phase 1 process below.

Allocation of New Moorings

As part of the Shoreline Plan, TRPA may permit up to a maximum of 2,116 additional (new) moorings. Allowable moorings include buoys, boat lifts, and boat slips and are distributed through the following pools:

  • 1,486 private moorings (buoys or boat lifts)
  • 330 marina moorings (buoys or boat slips)
  • 300 public agency moorings (buoys or boat slips)

New mooring allocations will be released in accordance with TRPA Code of Ordinances 84.3.2.E.4: a maximum of fifteen (15) percent of the available moorings from each of the three pools can be allocated annually.

Eligibility Criteria

Private moorings

Single-family parcels:

  • Up to two moorings per parcel; existing moorings count towards maximum moorings allowed
  • Littoral – single-family parcel must adjoin or abut the high water elevation of Lake Tahoe
  • Best Management Practices (BMPs) Certificate – The littoral parcel must have a BMP Certificate of Completion prior to entering the mooring lottery. You can check the BMP compliance status on the TRPA Parcel Tracker. For more information on BMPs or to request assistance from TRPA’s Stormwater Management Program, please visit tahoebmp.org or call the BMP hotline at (775) 589-5202.

In addition, private moorings must comply with all eligibility, capacity, mitigation, development and location standards of TRPA Code of Ordinances Chapters 80-85, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Located outside a Stream-mouth Protection Zone
  • Boat lifts: one per parcel on an existing pier, up to four
  • Mooring buoys:
    • At least 50 feet from another mooring buoy (50-foot grid spacing for buoy fields)
    • At least 20 feet from adjacent littoral parcel projection line boundaries
    • Buoys not in buoy fields: No greater than 600 feet lakeward from elevation 6,220 feet Lake Tahoe Datum, as measured horizontally, or no farther lakeward than elevation 6,210 feet Lake Tahoe Datum, whichever is less
    • Buoy fields: No greater than 600 feet lakeward from elevation 6,220 feet Lake Tahoe Datum, as measured horizontally, and does not exceed the maximum buoy field size (derived from littoral HOA parcel dimensions)
On behalf of our team at our architect firm serving Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and Carson City, NV, we are here to help you build the home of your dreams, be it on the lake, golf course, or high atop the High Sierra.

James P. Borelli
Founder/Principal
Borelli Architecture
Lake Tahoe / Truckee
jim@borelliarchitecture.com
775.831.3060