Commission proposes revamped launching, parking fees | SierraSun.com

Commission proposes revamped launching, parking fees

Kara Fox
Sierra Sun

Boaters and kayakers launching from Kings Beach or Tahoe Vista this summer may have to contend with a new fee structure.

The North Tahoe Public Utility District’s Recreation and Parks Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to change boat launch fees in Kings Beach and at the Tahoe Vista Recreation Area, as well as to increase parking fees at the Coon Street lot. The commission also approved eliminating launch fees for kayaks, and extending peak season prices through the end of September.

Both boat launch and parking fees during the peak season would go from $7 to $5 for district locals and $10 for everyone else. During the off-season, launching and parking for locals would be free, while others would pay $5 to park and $2 to launch.

Annual season pass prices for locals will stay at $50, while visitors would have to pay $250, up from $100.

The new fees will be more in line with what is charged at other recreation areas around the lake, according to the district.

The North Tahoe Public Utility District board will have to approve the proposed changes at its next meeting in February. If approved, the changes would go into effect 30 days after the board’s vote.

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“We went with eliminating launch fees for kayaks. It didn’t seem reasonable [to charge a fee for kayaks],” said Commissioner Nancy Gaines. “The increasing for motorized boats was to be consistent with area fees.”

Kathy Long, park and facilities manager for the district, said staff researched other launching fees in the area and said the district “thought we should be in the middle of those.” Long also said parking and launching prices will not be the only fees to go up in the district.

“We are looking at our rates across the board,” Long said. “These are the only ones ready to go. We need to plan for the summer.”

Long noted that the Coon Street parking lot is owned by the California Department of Boating and Waterways, which does not give any money to the North Tahoe Public Utility District for maintenance. She said the district is “probably” losing money.

Board Member Sue Daniels, who also sits on the recreation and parks commission, said it was difficult for workers to enforce the $7 parking fee because many people did not have exact change. She said NTPUD vehicles at the site would help enforce the code.

“I think it makes it simpler,” Daniels said of the proposed fee structure. “It makes it easier for our young workers to enforce it.”

Long said the recreation areas will have increased staffing in the summer, which will help with enforcement of fees. During the off-season, the fees will be collected on the “honor system,” Long said.

Long did not know how much money the district expected to gain by changing the fees because she said the district has not been able to track how many people actually use the launch ramps.

The elimination of the kayak fee is designed to encourage people not to launch from sandy beach areas with swimming, which is illegal, Long said.

“I am ecstatic,” Phil Segal, owner of Tahoe Paddle and Oar in Kings Beach, said of the proposed eliminated kayak launch fee. “It’s a move that makes more sense than a lot of things that have come our way. It makes perfect sense.”

Proposed boat launch fees for Kings Beach and Tahoe Vista:

Peak season: $5 for district locals, $10 for public

Off-peak season: free for locals, $2 for public

Proposed parking fees for Coon Street lot:

Peak season: $5 for district locals, $10 public

Off-peak season: free for locals, $5 for public