KINGS BEACH, Calif. — When pulling into Kings Beach State Recreation Area and North Tahoe Regional Park this weekend, drivers will see something different — offseason parking attendants collecting fees.
“The requirement to pay has always been there,” said Tracey Towner, North Tahoe Public Utility District park and facilities manager. “This is not new. … I’m trying to reinforce that payment.”
As part of an offseason enforcement measure that began Nov. 1, staff will oversee the Kings Beach rec area from 8 a.m. to dark on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for the rest of the year, charging non-PUD residents $3 to enter.
The regional park entrance in Tahoe Vista also will be staffed Fridays and Saturdays, with both facility entrances staffed daily for Thanksgiving week and Christmas through New Year’s.
Cost on behalf of the PUD to staff entrances is contingent upon number of hours worked, Towner said. Funding will come from the district’s parks and facilities staff budget.
“I think (offseason enforcement is) a giant waste of money because no one really parks over there in the winter because there’s not much of a demand,” said Tony Spiker, owner of Vista Gallery and Framing, located next to Kings Beach State Recreation Area.
Jena Lanini, manager of Jason’s Beachside Grille — also located near the park — agreed.
“In the summer it makes sense,” she said. “In this time of year, it just doesn’t. It’s all locals, and business is hard this time of year as it is, especially for Jason’s. This is our only parking in the winter. Once snow falls, you can’t park in the street.”
Towner said it’s not the PUD’s intent to impact businesses through offseason enforcement, but rather to better maintain the facilities.
“We’re going to maintain the parks the best we can,” she said. “With more outside help, then we’ll be able to do more things as far as maintenance and operations go.”
North Tahoe Regional Park has nearly $1 million in deferred maintenance, and Towner estimates Kings Beach State Recreation Area has at least $400,000.
Parking fees will go toward park maintenance, she said. Since the Kings Beach park is a state-owned site, funds raised there will be invested there.
After the new year, the offeason enforcement effort will be reviewed to determine if it’s worth staffing both entrances year-round, Towner said.
Besides regular peak-season enforcement at Kings Beach, both areas formerly operated on an honor system, in which those entering paid at an unmanned pay box.
The institution of parking fees was previously approved by the NTPUD board of directors. However, there has been “very little compliance,” according to the NTPUD.
At a recent board meeting, Towner said directors asked how the situation could be fixed before lending support to entrance staffing.
“If you are going to use the park, help shoulder the burden,” said Towner, who replaced retiring NTPUD park and facilities manager Kathy Long in August.
Top priority maintenance projects include staining the bathroom building at Kings Beach State Recreation Area and the Ramada, a covered picnic area, at North Tahoe Regional Park.
“I didn’t take this job to be the parking police,” Towner said. “I didn’t take this job for that. I took this job because I get to maintain and operate facilities in the North Tahoe area.”