Officials eye new parking standards for Tahoe City, Kings Beach
June 10, 2015
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — County officials are working to revise outdated parking standards in a drive to better meet mobility needs within North Shore town centers.
"We're a unique tourist destination environment, with year-round residents and limited real estate, and that makes it difficult," said Peter Kraatz, assistant director of Placer County's Public Works Department, at a public workshop last month. "It's a hard nut to crack."
Last summer, LSC Transportation Consultants Inc. conducted a parking inventory in the commercial cores of Kings Beach and Tahoe City and found a public parking shortage.
Not counting residential properties, parking use in certain areas at certain times last July exceeded parking capacity, according to the study, with vehicles parked in unmarked areas or along curb lanes beyond the legal number of spaces.
How the county wants to address that shortage is a matter of policy, which could affect the attractiveness of communities and their economic viability, said Gordon Shaw, principal of LSC, at the workshop.
"Less parking means less coverage. It means less cost to developers. It means more traffic in communities that are not cut up by giant parking lots," he said. "On the other hand, we have to be realistic about this … We have to accommodate the car if we are not going to really impact the economy too much."
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Some suggestions from LSC include:
• Provide enough spaces for parking to be 100 percent utilized at peak times.
• Increase parking spots required for auto repair/service or service station and recreation center land use types, while decreasing the requirement for other uses such as food and beverage retail sales, professional offices and multiple family dwelling units.
• Establish an in-lieu parking fee program for Kings Beach's and Tahoe City's commercial area, in which developers pay a fee into a public parking fund for off-site spaces to counteract site issues that prevent adequate on-site parking.
• Continue and encourage landowners to enter into agreements that allow private facilities to provide time-dependent public parking use.
"Really what we're doing here is suggesting (a) more integrated strategy of looking for parking lots, parking opportunities that are within our existing areas, so you park once, you spend your day in the area and then off you go," Shaw said.
In the coming months, county staff will review LSC's recommendations and gather community input to develop new parking standards.
Those standards will be part of the new Tahoe Basin Area Plan being developed by Placer County, Kraatz said.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to adopt the Area Plan in late spring 2016, said Crystal Jacobsen, with Placer County's Community Development Resource Agency.
Following adoption, the Area Plan will be submitted to TRPA for approval, a process that is anticipated to take about three months.
Only upon the Area Plan's adoption would new parking standards go into effect, Kraatz said.
They would replace standards outlined in the "Lake Tahoe Region of Placer County Standards & Guidelines for Signage, Parking & Design," which was adopted in 1994.
New standards won't impact existing businesses, Kraatz said. Only new development and businesses whose conditions change — for example, an expansion — will need to comply.
The LSC study cost roughly $65,000, with funding provided by Placer County Transient Occupancy Tax funds and county CEO funding.