CORE MELTDOWN: Placer County Supervisors vote 4-1 for three lanes, roundabouts in Kings Beach; Bruce Kranz pulled from TRPA meeting
The Placer County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted in favor of the three-lane, roundabout alternative for the Kings Beach Commercial Core Tuesday.
The board voted four-to-one, with Supervisor Bruce Kranz voting against.
However, Kranz said as a representative from the board of supervisors to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, he would still vote against three lanes when the TRPA board discusses today whether it will reconsider its June 25 vote in favor of a four-lane plan through Kings Beach.
Kranz’s vote for the four-lane alternative caused an uproar throughout the Kings Beach area, which was evident during public comment at Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting in Kings Beach.
But the 4-1 vote wasn’t the end. Kranz’s comment that he wouldn’t take the board’s collective choice to the TRPA meeting on today spurred other supervisors to vote to remove him as Placer’s representative. Instead, Kranz’s alternate, Larry Sevison, said he would vote for three lanes as the board had.
As has been the routine for the commercial core project, the room was nearly full at Tuesday’s supervisors meeting. Proponents of three lanes held up green signs with “Team Hybrid” written on them, while a few four-lane supporters simply held four fingers in the air.
“I feel all the comments and letters have built a consensus and a strong consensus. My opinion is that about 80 percent are in favor of three-lanes. Logic dictates three lanes best option,” said Supervisor Rocky Rockholm. “I strongly support the three-lane hybrid.”
Kranz stuck to his position stated at the June 25 TRPA meeting, taking issue with both on-highway traffic and cut-through traffic in the grid neighborhood of Kings Beach.
“For the life of me I don’t understand why we are going to spend $45 million to make traffic worse, when elsewhere we are spending hundreds of millions to make it better,” Kranz said.
While Kranz suggested that if presented with all the issues, both local emergency services and Caltrans would be against the three-lane alternative. Representatives from the North Tahoe Fire Protection District, Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol said that while they preferred four lanes the three-lane plan is acceptable.
“We’ve had the opportunity to review the options and we’ve concluded we can provide service to either option. As such we’ve taken a neutral position,” said Chief Duane Whitelaw of North Tahoe Fire.
Members of the public questioned the priority put on traffic congestion over other issues including safety, environmental impact and community character.
“Cars and traffic should never be cited as a primary decision-making factor,” said Bill Johnson, a Kings Beach property owner.
“We’re in a small community here, how is it OK to talk about traffic when he [looking at her son] is twice as likely to be killed?” said Sarah Smith, a resident of the Kings Beach grid in favor of the three-lane option.
She was referring to statistics presented by Ken Grehm, director of public works for Placer County, who said Kings Beach has an vehicle-pedestrian accident rate three times that of the state average and twice the fatality rate.
Other residents said this project shouldn’t only consider those who live and work in Kings Beach, but also the visitors who come to Lake Tahoe.
“This isn’t Kings Beach road,” said area restaurant owner Tom Turner. “This is a road for the United States of America.”
Jerry Dinzes, a Kings Beach resident, said while some have made comparisons to Tahoe City, Kings Beach will have even more traffic.
“Kings Beach has considerably more traffic flow than any of our neighbors. Only one that comes close is Tahoe City and they are fairly congested, and don’t have the growth potential we do,” Dinzes said.
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board members will vote today on the reconsideration of the three-lane, roundabout option for the Kings Beach Commercial Core, which they voted down June 25. The meeting starts at 1 p.m. at the North Tahoe Community Conference Center in Kings Beach.