Tahoe boat rental business gets hefty fine for unauthorized buoys

Boats attached to buoys on Lake Tahoe. Provided

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — A boat rental company that placed a number of unauthorized buoys on Lake Tahoe has agreed to pay a hefty penalty.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board and Legal Committee on Wednesday both unanimously approved a settlement agreement with Incline Village-based businesses Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe and Action Water Sports that includes a $90,000 fine.

According to the settlement agreement, Action Water Sports is to pay the fine within 30 days of the agreement and if it fails to do so and TRPA files a suit to collect, the amount doubles. AWS must also advocate for safety and environmentally sensitive boating by providing TRPA printed materials to renters, training staff, equip all boats with a GPS that shows when the vessel is in a no-wake zone and partner with the League to Save Lake Tahoe to conduct boater education and a safety clinic.

AWS and Hyatt also promise to moor only AWS-controlled watercraft within the Hyatt buoy field and each watercraft will be located on one of the 48 permitted buoys. They must also obtain a watercraft concession permit for the unauthorized buoys.

“Our mooring and shoreline program and the enforcement that goes with it is working,” TRPA Executive Director Joanne Marchetta said. “The mooring permitting and registration program adds navigational safety, fish habitat protection, recreation improvements, and provides funding for enforcement actions like the one that our board approved today.”

The violations first came to the TRPA’s attention on Aug. 21, 2020 after a complaint of unauthorized moorings along the shoreline near the Hyatt Property.

TRPA verified 10 unauthorized moorings in front of neighboring properties to the east of the Hyatt Property and noted similar anchoring devices used by AWS and some of the watercraft attached were from AWS.

The agency on Aug. 26 issued a “Cease and Desist Notice” to AWS requiring the buoys be removed.

AWS owner Gary Scott said on Sept. 8 that three had been removed, according to the agency.

TRPA after further investigation issued a second notice on Sept. 14 to both Hyatt and AWS requiring the operation to remain only on Hyatt Property and to remove the buoys. Eight days later on Sept. 22, AWS confirmed the moorings were removed.

The agency said in follow up discussions with Scott, that AWS was rotating the watercraft from the Hyatt concession along with other AWS/Hyatt mooring rentals for most of the season.

“Scott made these decisions with clear knowledge of TRPA rules and regulations and persisted in this unauthorized activity for an additional 3 weeks,” said a TRPA description of the violation.

TRPA also settled a violation for $30,000 in 2017 with AWS for unauthorized placement of additional moorings within the Hyatt buoy field.

The agency said Scott disputes the alleged violations, but in the interest of reaching an amicable resolution, he agreed to pay the penalty and implement a number of education and safety processes during the summer watercraft rental operations.

Hyatt or Scott did not respond to Tribune request for comments.

TRPA said AWS and Hyatt are expected to obtain a watercraft concession permit for the Hyatt pier by June 30.