Kings Beach open house draws crowd in blizzard conditions
By Jason Shueh
KINGS BEACH and#8212; Shaking snow from coats and water from boots, residents entered the Kings Beach Elementary cafeteria Wednesday night to be treated to an array of charts, displays, and projector presentations explaining key community projects.
Hosted by the North Tahoe Family Resource Center and DOMUS Development, the open house highlighted two hot topic community issues to be decided upon by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Board of Trustees on the Jan. 27.
The most controversial of these issues being the $48 million Kings Beach Commercial Core Project which would narrow Highway 28 from four lanes to three lanes, installing one center turn lane and two roundabouts at the intersections of Coon and Bear Street.
The second project on display was Kings Beach Housing Now, a plan designed by Placer County and developer DOMUS Development to construct five new affordable housing structures. The new structures would add environmental improvements and 77 new housing units ranging from $382 for studios and $1,135 for three bedroom units.
and#8220;Considering the weather we had a good turnout,and#8221; said Emilio Vaca, NTFRC executive director. and#8220;And the unique thing about this format is that people were able to get the information directly from the sources of individuals and organizations participating in the projects.and#8221;
Providing colorful maps and a buffet of bullet points, Placer County’s Public Works Department explained logistics and the reasoning behind their three-lane traffic solution.
and#8220;The project cleared the TRPA’s Advisory Planning Commission with a unanimous vote earlier this month and was previously approved by the Placer County Board of Supervisors on a 4-1 vote,and#8221; said Robert Miller, the county public information officer.
Miller said he expects the plan’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, the last environmental assessment needed to be certified before implementation begins, to go through without more delays.
However, David McClure, president of Kings Beach Business and Citizens Alliance, has argued traffic will be worsened by the three-lane option and especially where the roundabouts are located. McClure said a study was conducted by the Roundabout and Traffic Engineering, a company nationally recognized in roundabout construction, showed the roundabouts would increase traffic significantly during peak summer hours. McClure argues for a four-lane option to be designed and considered.
Jeff Pritchard, KBBC board member, said the RTE report also indicated the roundabouts would not be large enough for the semi-truck traffic for local business around the lake.
and#8220;I would say the basic problems are the congestion that is going to happen during the 90 days of peak traffic in the summer,and#8221; he said, adding the second problem would be back traffic through residential neighborhoods.
The RTE report estimates traffic could potentialy back up a mile or more during peak hours.
Ken Grehm, Placer County director of Public Works, contended the potential traffic on peak days will be worth the benefits to community safety and overall driving conditions.
and#8220;Will there be some congestion during the summer? Of course there will be. But the benefits far out weigh those few summer days when traffic will be bad,and#8221; he said.
Grehm also emphasized the plan’s $1.5 million of additional funding for the Kings Beach Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan which would lower noise and implement speeding and traffic deterrents in nearby neighborhoods.
and#8220;Our board voted overwhelmingly for this project and everyone sees this as the best option,and#8221; he said.
Dennis Oliver, TRPA Spokesman, said while there are some who might support a four-lanes, and#8220;at this point there is no four-lane option to approve.and#8221;
To have four lanes Oliver explained TRPA trustees would either have to make Placer County go back and re-engineer a four-lane option, approve it, then re-submit it to the TRPA or simply do nothing and keep things the way they are. Both of which, he said are unlikely.
Across the room Meea Kang, lead developer at DOMUS Development, displayed charts and photographs showing how affordable housing will benefit the community.
and#8220;I think this is a win-win for Kings Beach and it shows that this type of project can be done.and#8221;
Currently, the affordable housing project is waiting for three amendments to be approved that would allow it to go forward. The project also awaits final approval on two of its sites at Fox and Chipmunk.
Earlier this month, the TRPA Advisory Planning Commission reviewed the three amendments which would increase the area building height to 48 feet from 33 feet, increase building density requirements and expand the community plan boundary to include the projects Fox site. After review the APC recommended approval to the governing board,
Kang said sheand#8217;s seen almost unanimous support for project from local business in the area and community organizations like the NTFRC. If the TRPA board approves the last remaining housing unit sites Kang said there could be side benefits as well.
and#8220;Usually whenever you do something like this there is usually a ripple effect of people taking ownership of their properties,and#8221; she said, explaining new structures give incentive to property owners to refurbish some of their own houses.
Kang said the housing units will be LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a green building rating system), use 60 percent less energy than most apartment buildings and reduce more than seven tons of sediment runoff into Lake Tahoe each year, through the installment of Best Management Practices
Oliver said even if the TRPA decides to increase density requirements it will the be the same or lower than the areas current conditions.
and#8220;I think itand#8217;s important to know that the TRPA is just coming into alignment with standards at the local level,and#8221; said Oliver earlier in the month, adding Placer County has already approved the increases.
Final decisions on both issues will be decided by TRPA Trustees at the Chateau in Incline Village on Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 9:30 a.m.