Farewell farmers? Goodbye concerts?
October 15, 2007
Two of Tahoe City’s popular free events, the farmers market and the concerts at Commons Beach, have an uncertain future.
Saddled with a nearly $20,000 in permitting and mitigation fees to continue the events, the Tahoe City Public Utility District is seeking the public’s opinion before making a decision on whether to apply for permanent permits from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
“The board wants to hear from the public because they’ve heard some complaints about the traffic and the congestion,” said Cindy Gustafson, assistant general manager for the utility district.
Tahoe City resident Richard Mallett said he opposes the farmers market at Commons Beach for two reasons: It’s a for-profit venture using up public parking and it exacerbates the traffic backup on the west side of Tahoe City.
“As good an idea as it is, it’s in the wrong location,” Mallett said.
“If there is no place for it, than that’s the answer,” he said.
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Mallett said he does not oppose the Sunday concerts, which occur during a time of lighter traffic and are not for-profit events.
But supporters say the market and concerts are invaluable to the community.
“I think it would be ridiculous to cancel” the market and the concerts, said Alpine Meadows resident Melissa Siig. “I think it would definitely hurt Tahoe City.”
Siig, who frequents the market with her two children, said any traffic troubles the market creates are easily outweighed by the benefits of the event.
“If they take this away people are just going to go to Truckee or Homewood,” said Siig. “We’d just be taking people away, which is the opposite of what we want to do.”
Kelly Atchley, executive director of the Tahoe City Downtown Association, said there really is no other location for the market to go. Locations like 64 acres near the Tahoe City wye have their own parking and traffic problems, among other drawbacks that make them illogical choices.
The permitting fees, traffic and noise studies and mitigation required for TRPA approval will cost $12,236 for the Commons Beach concerts and $7,656 for the farmers market, said Gustafson.
The money paid for the farmers market permit would be reimbursed to the utility district by the Foothill Farmers’ Market Association, the organizer of the Thursday market.
“They have been working on raising money for a year, because we knew this was coming,” Atchley said.
But the concert fees would have to be paid by the utility district. Previously both had operated under a temporary permit.
While farmers market and concert supporters are hopeful the Tahoe City Public Utility District will vote to apply for the permits, the act of paying the fees and applying does not necessarily mean a permit will be granted. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has the final decision whether to approve or deny the permits.