TRPA Approval of Moorings and Piers Lake Tahoe

TRPA Approval of Moorings and Piers Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe extends across both the California and Nevada borders. Because of rapid development in its early years, Lake Tahoe faced a critical crossroads. At the time, regulatory authority was split among the two states and five counties.
In the 1960s, Congress helped the two states create a bi-state regulatory agency called the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA.) This organization protects one of the world’s clearest and deepest mountain lakes.
Today, TRPA manages the growth and development of the watershed. Their vision is to restore and conserve Lake Tahoe and its unique environment for future generations.

TRPA Regulations

It is hard to believe that when Lake Tahoe was first developed, the builders envisioned it to be the size of San Francisco. Additionally, they imagined that the Tahoe Rim Trail would become a freeway!
The Olympics at Squaw Valley in the 1960s led to an increase in unplanned development. When building the Tahoe Keys in South Lake Tahoe, developers replaced natural watershed filters with soil to create neighborhoods.
These older developments were responsible for the loss of clarity at the lake. With careful planning today, only 10% of the land around Lake Tahoe is urban development. TRPA is responsible for land use, transportation, and planning, and they retain authority over the entire watershed.

TRPA Regulations

All buyers and sellers must abide by TRPA regulations. One of these regulations includes BMPs or Best Management Practices. This is a certification process to improve irrigation and runoff so that the clarity of Lake Tahoe remains undisturbed.
TRPA has worked hard to develop a plan that allows for controlled development. They present guidelines that will ensure the Lake Tahoe basin remains natural. The regulations can appear stringent, but they are necessary to protect the lake and surrounding ecosystems.
TRPA regulates tree removal, shoreline views, and irrigation, and manages the process of registering or approving moorings and piers.

TRPA Shoreline Plan of 2018

The Shoreline Plan lifted a longstanding moratorium on new shore zone structures at Lake Tahoe. TRPA has set caps and regulations for new shore zone structures such as piers, moorings, and public boat ramps. When Marinas make enhancements, they must include environmental improvements.


The Lake Tahoe Shoreline Plan approved by TRPA in 2018 required lakefront property owners, homeowners’ associations, and marinas to register all existing boat moorings. Moorings are structures that include buoys, boatlifts, and boat slips.
Annual mooring registration and mitigation fees support new and expanded education and enforcement. TRPA requires registration for all existing and proposed moorings. Property owners can now obtain permits and register existing moorings online at
The annual cost to register a mooring is currently $90 per buoy and $43 per boat lift or slip. TRPA monitors these tags along the shoreline. To find out if a mooring or pier is allocated to your parcel, you can look up the parcel number at:
As part of the phased plan, registration for new moorings began in January 2020. The Lake Tahoe Shoreline Plan authorized TRPA to permit up to 1,486 new private moorings over the next 20 years. To apply for a new mooring, property owners must have a best management practices (BMP) certificate from TRPA.

Pier Permitting Process

The pier permitting process involves the following steps:
  1. Enter a lottery
  2. Drawing and selection
  3. Submission of a complete application
  4. TRPA approval
  5. Other agency approval when necessary
  6. Construction within a set timeframe
TRPA has allocated 128 additional new piers. This includes 110 multiple-parcel or shared piers, and 18 single parcel piers, distributed via a lottery. In 2021 from June 1st to June 30th they accepted lottery applications for California and Nevada and will do this again in 2023. Every two years, the lottery system will release pier permits until all have been allocated.
From December 1st to March 1st, 15% of available pier permits are chosen via a random drawing. To be eligible to enter the lottery, the parcel must join the high-water line, and the property cannot be deed-restricted. Pier permitting will require BMP certification, but this is not required to enter the lottery. Once you are notified that you have been chosen, then the BMP certification can proceed.

Bi-Annual Permit Process

Every two years, TRPA will permit up to 12 new piers in the Tahoe Basin, with a preference for multiple-parcel, or shared-use piers. Through the lottery, TRPA will select applications that can move forward to the permitting process within a couple of months.
No additional pier allocations will be available until 2023 as this is a biennial process. Information and instructions for the lottery application process and eligibility criteria are available here.
Once you are notified of being chosen by lottery, you will have 6 months to submit a complete application and 3 years to construct the pier.
I specialize in the luxury lakefront market and can help you navigate the process of registering your mooring or getting pier approval. Contact me today for more information.

Work With Camille

I understand the nuances of complex transactions, and am sensitive to the unique needs of the discriminating buyer and seller. My expertise as a leader provides my clients with a wealth of clarity and direction that translates into exquisite representation. Contact me now!