State parks will take over Tahoe rec area on May 15
KINGS BEACH, Calif. — The timetable for California State Parks to take over a popular North Shore recreation area has moved up.
Rather than taking over Nov. 1, state parks will manage day-to-day operations for the Kings Beach State Recreation Area and boat launch facility starting May 15, Vicky Waters, deputy director of public affairs for California State Parks, said Friday.
North Tahoe Public Utility District, which has managed the state-owned rec area since 1978, informed state parks on April 15 of the board’s decision to terminate district operations.
Due to a portion of the rec area’s parking lot being used to stage equipment and materials for the Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project, parking lot revenue — which pays for summer expenses such as trash collection and sand removal — has been impacted, according to a letter to state parks, signed by Paul Schultz, NTPUD general manager/CEO.
“The district just cannot meet its standard without an income stream, and the local community does not have the resources to subsidize state parks,” the letter states, causing the NTPUD board to “reluctantly conclude” termination of operations.
An agreement for the lost parking revenue was finalized May 3, 2012, in which Placer County will pay state parks $115,746 over the core project’s estimated two-season construction period, said Peter Kraatz, deputy director for Placer County Department of Public Works.
NTPUD was not a part of negotiations, since it is not the property owner, he said.
“We don’t get a nickel,” Schultz said Monday morning, referring to the compensation. “It would have made the difference.”
On average, the cost to operate the rec area’s beach in the summer is $150,000, he said. According to NTPUD, parking lot revenues and the concessionaire are the sole funding sources to maintain the beach.
Schultz added virtually all revenue is made over the summer, which covers park expenses throughout the year.
“We didn’t want to, but we had to because of fiscal constraints,” he said, referring to terminating on May 15.
Despite the earlier handover, state parks is confident the transition will go well.
“We are confident services will not be interrupted to visitors,” Waters said. “We are working on a transition plan currently so that the transfer of operations is as smooth and seamless as possible.”
She said services and upcoming events at the site will be honored, and the intention remains to keep the rec area and parking lot open year-round.
Even though the May takeover will affect the tail end of this fiscal year (July 1-June 30) and the beginning of next year’s budgets, state parks is “confident” it can fund the change, Waters said.
Part of the transition plan is to look over budget numbers and fill available park positions immediately to ensure everything is in place for May 15.
In the future, state parks is looking at making improvements at the rec area such as ADA upgrades, with the California Tahoe Conservancy funding a portion of work.
In January, state parks informed NTPUD its interest in taking over operations at the rec area. Since a 30-year contract between state parks and NTPUD expired Dec. 5, 2008, NTPUD has continued park operations on a month-to-month basis.