Parking fees enforced in Kings Beach, Tahoe Vista | SierraSun.com

Parking fees enforced in Kings Beach, Tahoe Vista

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

When pulling into Kings Beach State Recreation Area and North Tahoe Regional Park on weekends this fall, drivers will see something different — offseason parking attendants collecting fees.

"The requirement to pay has always been there," said Tracey Towner, North Tahoe Public Utility District park and facilities manager. "This is not new. … I'm trying to reinforce that payment."

As part of an offseason enforcement measure that began Nov. 1, staff will oversee the Kings Beach rec area from 8 a.m. to dark on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for the rest of the year, charging non-PUD residents $3 to enter.

The regional park entrance in Tahoe Vista also will be staffed Fridays and Saturdays, with both facility entrances staffed daily for Thanksgiving week and Christmas through New Year's.

Cost on behalf of the PUD to staff entrances is contingent upon number of hours worked, Towner said. Funding will come from the district's parks and facilities staff budget.

"I think (offseason enforcement is) a giant waste of money because no one really parks over there in the winter because there's not much of a demand," said Tony Spiker, owner of Vista Gallery and Framing, located next to Kings Beach State Recreation Area.

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Jena Lanini, manager of Jason's Beachside Grille — also located near the park — agreed.

"In the summer it makes sense," she said. "In this time of year, it just doesn't. It's all locals, and business is hard this time of year as it is, especially for Jason's. This is our only parking in the winter. Once snow falls, you can't park in the street."

Towner said it's not the PUD's intent to impact businesses through offseason enforcement, but rather to better maintain the facilities.

North Tahoe Regional Park has nearly $1 million in deferred maintenance, and Towner estimates Kings Beach State Recreation Area has at least $400,000.

Parking fees will go toward maintenance, she said. Since the Kings Beach park is a state-owned site, funds raised there will be invested there.

After the new year, the offeason enforcement effort will be reviewed to determine if it's worth staffing both entrances year-round, Towner said.

Besides regular peak-season enforcement at Kings Beach, both areas formerly operated on an honor system, in which those entering paid at an unmanned pay box.

The institution of parking fees was previously approved by the NTPUD board of directors. However, there has been "very little compliance," according to the NTPUD.