Placer addresses Kings Beach parking
August 21, 2007
Placer County seems to be ahead of the game when it comes to parking in Kings Beach.
The Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement project, which will designate three- or four-lanes, roundabouts or traffic lights and on-street parking or large sidewalks, has not been approved yet by any governing agency.
But Placer County has not waited to proceed with badly needed public parking, with a couple lots already in the works with other sites in the running.
“We’re holding off on all [potential] sites at this time until we have an approved project,” said Associate Civil Engineer Dan LaPlante with the Placer Department of Public Works.
The county has already built a new 20-space lot on Brooke Avenue, and construction is under way on another 20-space lot off Minnow Avenue.
The Placer County Redevelopment Agency is also negotiating with developer S.K. Brown to build another parking lot off of Salmon Street, said Placer Deputy Director of Redevelopment Rae James.
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“Private construction is much better than public,” James said in a phone interview. “They’re more efficient than government construction.”
LaPlante said Placer County is working ahead to address parking needs before Highway 28 is torn up. Building off-site parking is an objective in the first phase of construction.
LaPlante said he hoped the Brooke and Minnow lots would count toward Commercial Core parking requirements, even though they have been completed before the approval of a Commercial Core alternative.
When the county adopted the Kings Beach redevelopment plan in 1996, businesses and residents identified commercial parking as a key issue, James said.
“At that juncture we knew that we were going to have a major parking component,” she said.
And Kings Beach business owners agree.
“You can hear all the time that there’s not enough parking,” said Executive Director Cheri Sprenger of the North Tahoe Business Association. “It’s great that the county is researching the potential spots and acquiring land now.”
Since the redevelopment plan identified parking needs in 1996, the county’s Department of Public Works has partnered with the Redevelopment Agency to collaborate on the Commercial Core Improvement Project and pursue mutual goals, James said.
“We knew what needed parking, but what helped us a lot is when the Commercial Core project came around,” James said. “It told us exactly where [parking] should be.”
No matter what alternative is chosen in the Commercial Core Improvement project, 220 parking spots on Highway 28 will be lost, LaPlante said.
County officials came up with that number when they counted the parking spots in Kings Beach ” both legitimate and makeshift ” on a busy July weekend.
But each of the project’s three alternatives would replace all of the lost parking, LaPlante said. Location is the variable, with each alternative offering a different
combination of on-highway parking, backstreet parking and lot parking.
“We want to make sure we replace what we’ve disturbed,” LaPlante said.
The county aims to replace each lost spot within 300 feet of its original location, LaPlante said, looking at a map designating current, potential and rejected parking sites.
“What I’m hearing is the most important thing is to maintain parking year-round in front of shops,” LaPlante said.
A committee identified various sites when plans for the Commercial Core Improvement Project were still developing, some of which have since fallen by the wayside.
A trailer park site was initially identified as a possible parking lot, but was later ruled out because it is an occupied housing site, LaPlante said.
“What they have right now is a pretty good scattering throughout town,” said North Tahoe resident Theresa May Duggan, who participated in the parking committee.
“I think [Placer County] is fully committed to the parking,” Duggan said. “I get that over and over again ” that they’re moving ahead on this parking.”
Duggan said she thought public, shared parking would promote visitors to stop for more than one Kings Beach business, promoting economic vitality and strength.
“I think the community’s really headed in the right direction,” Duggan said. “We don’t need more cars driving through; we need cars driving to.”
Kings Beach resident Jerry Dinzes agreed that business vitality depends on parking, but said he doesn’t feel enough temporary parking has been provided to carry businesses through the construction season, especially on the west end of town.
“Afterwards, without on-street parking a lot of businesses won’t be able to bounce back after construction,” Dinzes said.