Kings Beach roundabouts get green light
The Placer County Planning Commission unanimously endorsed three lanes of traffic and intersection roundabouts for Kings Beach Wednesday, after listening to sometimes-passionate comments from residents about a long-planned makeover of the community’s aging commercial corridor.
A large line of potential speakers quickly formed as soon as the Placer County Planning Commission asked for comment on the Kings Beach Commercial Core plan.
Loud applause and dissenting murmurs followed each speaker’s opinion, limited to three minutes, on the merits of three lanes on Highway 28 versus four, and whether to adopt traffic lights or roundabouts to control traffic at major intersections.
The packed audience appeared sharply divided between the recommended three-lanes-and-roundabout option and one that would keep four lanes of traffic and use traffic lights at intersections. Residents debated traffic levels on Highway 28, expected traffic spill-over into adjacent neighborhoods and whether or not roundabouts are appropriate for Kings Beach.
“There are a lot of difference of opinions, but everybody agrees … something needs to be done in Kings Beach,” said Ken Grehm, director of public works for Placer County. “I’m not sure I’ve ever had a project over the last five years that has had as much public input as this one has had.”
Board President Larry Sevison said he counted 30 members of the public speaking in favor of the recommended option, 13 in favor of the four-lane alternative, and three expressing no preference.
“The sad part is we do have a divided community, but the reality is if we go forward with this project we will find the community will be reunited ” I think the community will embrace it,” said Larry Farinha, District 5 commissioner.
Placer County staff recommended an option for Kings Beach that would turn Highway 28 into two lanes of traffic with a center turn lane, using roundabouts at key intersections, said Ken Grehm, director of public works.
The recommended plan would allow for broad sidewalks, bike lanes and other street improvements, along with seasonal on-street parking, he said.
Dave Polivy, owner of Tahoe Mountain Sports, urged the commission to take county staff’s recommendation.
“I am personally, completely in support of the recommendation; it’s been in process for 10 years and at this point the results have always been the same,” Polivy said.
Nikki Riley spoke for the Sierra Business Council in support of the three-lane option.
“We as an organization are standing behind the process, and what we believe the majority want in the end is what has been presented by public works today,” Riley said.
Opponents of the recommended option preferred four travel lanes with additional traffic signals, new sidewalks and bike lanes.
“Will reducing road space really improve or worsen traffic, pedestrian movement, economics, and life in the neighborhoods?” asked Ed Granzow, a private transportation planner at the meeting. “The situation is, the possibility exists that Kings Beach is going to come to a stop.”
Tom Turner, a local restaurant owner, said the additional traffic that would find its way onto residential streets in the Kings Beach grid would be unacceptable.
Tom Trimble of Agate Bay said he worried about the high traffic levels when fire strikes in the basin.
“We feel they are not well informed on the travel study and the consequences,” said David McClure, president of the Kings Beach Business and Citizen’s Alliance. “They’re not looking at the negatives, they’re downplaying them.”