Kings Beach redevelopment plan debuts |

Kings Beach redevelopment plan debuts

A plan to transform the look and feel of Kings Beach debuts this week.

The Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project draft environmental document took years of planning and months of intensive work to compile. Monday, the 1,800 pages that spell out the options for redevelopment around the Highway 28 corridor became public.

The Kings Beach community will pick from several alternatives outlined in the document that include roundabouts, wide sidewalks, narrowing the highway to three lanes and on-highway parking.

The county hopes to approve the plan this year and begin building the $30 million in downtown improvements in 2008.

Depending on the alternative decided on by the public, Kings Beach could look wildly different come 2010 ” the year construction is expected to finish.

Ideas such as 17-foot-wide sidewalks, reducing traffic by one lane and adding roundabouts could alter the speed of traffic and the feel of downtown.

Curt Wegener, owner of the Kings Beach Car Wash, hopes the changes will slow down traffic through town.

“Right now all people do is see how fast they can get from [Highway] 267 up to the light at the casinos,” said Wegener. “My No. 1 concern would be safety. With the width of the highway now, for pedestrians to get from one side to the other ” they are taking their lives in their own hands.”

Wegener, who has been a part of planning the commercial core project since 1997, favors reducing the highway to three lanes.

Residents will get an up-close chance to see how the project will look once it is completed, when a portion of Highway 28 will be blocked off and the different variations of the plan will be laid out on the street ” during a May 15 workshop.

“Those are the questions we have gotten, ‘Is Kings Beach going to look like Tahoe City on busy days?'” said David Polivy, a Sierra Business Council employee who is organizing workshops on the project.

Wegener said he hopes the project highlights the community’s attributes ” like a great Tahoe beach ” while retaining the unique feel of the town.

“The word ‘funky’ is always used when describing Kings Beach,” said Wegener, who is also president of the North Tahoe Business Association. “I wouldn’t want to see it become an exclusive place for the wealthy.”

The North Tahoe Business Association has not taken an official position on the project yet, said association director Pam Jahnke. The group expects to announce their favored alternative after several of the workshops have been completed in mid-May, she said.

Jahnke did note that the alternative with wide sidewalks may cut down on downtown maintenance costs after the project is built.

“With the wide sidewalks, the snow storage is already built in,” she said.

The North Tahoe Business Association is working with Kings Beach businesses to create a business district that will fund the maintenance of downtown after the project is built.

The county is pushing for that district to be formed by 2010, said Jennifer Merchant, CEO for the Tahoe operations of Placer County.

“It’s really important for us to get that done up front,” said Merchant. “So we don’t have a $30 million project done that we don’t have money to maintain.”

Funding for construction of the commercial core project is being rounded up and comes from federal, state and local sources including Transient Occupancy Tax and the county’s Redevelopment Agency.

The Commercial Core plan will go through a 60-day public comment period. After that, public comments and responses will be added into a final Environmental Impact Report. The Placer County Board of Supervisors will then make a decision on the plan. If the plan is approved by Placer County, it will then be reviewed by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration.

The plan will be available online by Friday at:

– Open House: From 6 to 8 p.m. April 25 at the North Tahoe Conference Center, 8318 North Lake Blvd., Kings Beach

– Workshop: From 6 to 9 p.m. May 1 at the North Tahoe Conference Center, 8318 North Lake Blvd., Kings Beach

– Spanish-language Workshop: From 6 to 9 p.m. May 2 at the Kings Beach Elementary School, 8125 Steelhead Road, Kings Beach. This meeting will be conducted in Spanish.

– Workshop: From 6 to 9 p.m. May 15 at the North Tahoe Conference Center, 8318 North Lake Blvd., Kings Beach

– Workshop: From 6 to 9 p.m. May 29 at the North Tahoe Conference Center, 8318 North Lake Blvd., Kings Beach

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