Commons Beach

Project Details


Tahoe City Public Utility District


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Commons Beach is a developed, four-plus-acre lakefront park in the heart of Tahoe City. It offers lake access, picnicking, a children’s playground, restrooms, shared use trails, and an open grassy community gathering space. Commons Beach is popular for sunbathing, swimming and picnicking.

Commons Beach is managed by the Tahoe City Public Utility District (TCPUD). Outdoor facilities are available at Commons Beach on a seasonal basis and include both the group barbecue facility and outdoor amphitheater. Reservations are required. Contact the Parks and Recreation Department in Tahoe City for details at (530) 583-3440, extension 10 or via their website.

Outside movies and concerts are available for the community at Commons Beach throughout the summer season. Contact TCPUD for details.

Loss of the Town Commons

Commons Beach was not always the vibrant public open space it is today. As a town commons, the site was originally used a century ago for maritime commerce and rail lines. When development and commerce shifted to the automobile, the town’s main connection to Lake Tahoe was lost. Many residents and visitors were not even aware that the area and its 900 feet of lake frontage was public land.

The Charette

In October 1999, the Conservancy, working in coordination with the TCPUD and a wide range of community participants, hosted a design charette in which five nationally renowned design teams volunteered their time to plan a project to retrofit Commons Beach. Through the efforts of the project partners, the charette was held at no cost to the community – instead, local businesses and individuals donated in-kind services to host the event. In turn, the community received a series of concepts from which to select a preferred plan.

Reconnecting to the Lake

Building on the charette process, an array of stakeholders participated in a series of workshops to refine and produce a final design which met specific goals, including:

• enhancing public access and recreational opportunities, and environmental awareness and education;
• connecting the park to the community;
• creating a strong civic space within the urbanized core of Tahoe City; and
• strengthening the connection between the man-made and natural environments.

Construction began in 2002 and was completed October of 2003. As a result, Tahoe City’s transformed public waterfront is now a premier outdoor public and event location. Commons Beach drops right out of downtown Tahoe City through beautiful rock stairwells to a large grassy area with playgrounds and areas to barbecue, right on the shore of Lake Tahoe.

If you’re going, leave your car behind. Tahoe City and Commons Beach are well served by both transit services and bicycle and pedestrian trails. TART buses from Truckee, Incline Village, and the West Shore all meet in Tahoe City near the entrance to Commons Beach. Similarly, a well-developed bike trail system along both SR 89 and SR 28 brings non-motorized users directly to Commons Beach. The park is free to the public and open year-round.