Petition for Local Land Use Control of Private Property on the Shores of Lake Tulloch  


More than 60 years ago the Tulloch Reservoir, also called Lake Tulloch, was created by the South San Joaquin and Oakdale Irrigation Districts. At the time of its creation the irrigation districts obtained flowage easements on a small portion of the property on the lake’s shoreline. Over the past six decades most of the land on the lake was purchased and subdivided by property owners with a portion of their properties incumbered with flowage easements.  

According to the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a license approved by the commission for a licensee to create and operate a reservoir does not remove private property rights. FERC has stated that a licensee only has permitting powers on land for which it holds fee title.  

Further, according to the California Constitution, all land use and permitting powers are granted to local governments. Tri Dam  does not have such landuse authority and only has flowage easements on those properties for which it possesses a recorded easement.  

Further, for more than 15 years Tri Dam has expanded its regulatory control and permitting over private lands. The Calaveras County Code specifically reserves such powers to the county with a confirmation of Tri Dams rights to issue encroachment permits only on land for which it holds fee title. Tri Dam has unilaterally issued permits with no consultation with the county. 

Over the past 15 years the agency has instituted punitive policies on the permitting of docks and other lake development on land for which it has no powers to issue construction or excavation permits. Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties are the only agencies of government with those powers on Lake Tulloch.   

The Tri Dam Authority has filed numerous lawsuits against private landowners on land use issues for which they have no power to control. Tri Dam has ignored the county's legal authority to issue building and excavation permits. The agency has filed these lawsuits in US Federal Court costing property owners hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs.   

The citizens/property owners of Calaveras County are deprived of any elected representative with Tri Dam to provide oversight on these decisions.  

Therefore we appeal to the County of Calaveras to assert its legal permitting control over private property on Lake Tulloch while reserving Tri Dam only the power to grant lake water encroachments on land for which they possess a recorded flowage easement. All future permits should be issued by the Calaveras County Building Department. 

Therefore, we also voice our support for the county to enact policies which will protect the lake’s environment, viewshed and public recreation.  We support no development on the lake that will compromise these important values.  

Therefore, be it resolved that we request the members of the board of the Tri Dam Authority immediately stop the permitting of projects on Lake Tulloch.  

Finally, we want to communicate our support for these important changes to the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and our United States Congressman Tom McClintock.     

Paul Friant, Steve Brack, Grant West, Jerry Wood and George Burkhardt    Contact the author of the petition

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