Tahoe City garage out | SierraSun.com

Tahoe City garage out

Andrew Cristancho
Sierra Sun
Questions about Tahoe City's parking situation have come to a head with the marina parking garage plan being shelved.
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Plans to build a parking garage in Tahoe City have come to a screeching halt.

The Placer County Redevelopment Agency pulled its parking plans from an upcoming Tahoe Regional Planning Agency meeting agenda. And now the owners of the Tahoe City Marina ” where the parking garage was proposed ” are charging ahead with their own plans to add private, surface parking on the property.

While representatives from Placer County redevelopment and planning agencies were touring North Tahoe last month ” giving five different presentations at five different locations on the Tahoe City garage proposal ” agencies within the county’s government were also rethinking the project’s viability.

The proposed public parking garage met opposition from some business owners and residents who did not feel the project is the best use of county redevelopment dollars.

The garage was planned as a three-story concrete structure in between the Tahoe City Marina Mall, O’Neal Brokers and Wolfdale’s restaurant. It was estimated to cost $8.3 million, with costs not to exceed $14 million.

The project had been pulled from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency agenda previously because Placer County officials wanted more time to work out issues with interested parties, TRPA officials said in a previous interview.

But support for the project never came.

The county pulled the project last week because of a lack of vocal public support, and because the project was competing for public support with several projects around the lake, most notably, the Community Enhancement Program projects, said Jim LoBue with Placer County’s Redevelopment Agency.

During a presentation for the Tahoe City Downtown Association last week, LoBue noted at least six different studies and plans conducted since 2000 that established the need for additional parking in Tahoe City.

Among the studies identifying the need were the 2000 Tahoe City Business

Retention and Attraction Study, the 2006 North Lake Tahoe Redevelopment Project Area ” Five Year Implantation Plan, and the 2007 TRPA Recommendation on Water Borne Transit Service.

The parking structure was to serve as a transportation “node” that would connect commuters from other proposed projects. LoBue noted that the structure would also have pedestrian and bicycle access.

Meanwhile, an alternative parking plan, brought by the owners of the land, Tahoe Yacht Harbor LLC, will be considered by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Advisory Planning Commission during its March 12 meeting. On March 26, the project will be heard by the agency’s governing board.

The alternative would allow for 27 more privately-controlled parking spots and would be developed by the private group, said Jim Phelan, Tahoe City marina general manager. The plan will not provide the “public benefit” that the public structure would have, Phelan said. The spaces would be surface parking, he said.

The smaller plan would be a private development and could be approved faster, LoBue told members of the Tahoe City Downtown Association. He reminded the association that although the spots would be privately controlled, the existing parking has the same designation but are “unenforced.”

At the meeting Douglas Dale, owner of Wolfdale’s, a lakeview restaurant most impacted by the project, said the public structure would cause added traffic and congestion near the site. He was in favor of the harbor group’s alternative plan. But did not entirely rule out the public proposal, saying if done “right” could benefit the community.

Dave Wilderotter, a Tahoe City business owner who would not be as impacted by parking and construction delays during construction, said he feels for Wolfdale and others most impacted, but said the overall benefit to the community would be a plus.

“[The marina] is a beautiful gathering spot and people walk along there and gather there, and I am afraid that the that will all become parking. I think that the parking structure would look better than to have cars parked along the lake. I mean … what a shame.”

He said he believes the project is exactly what redevelopment dollars are meant for.

According to a rendering of the Yacht Harbor group’s project presented by Placer County officials, the proposed surface parking would be around the periphery of the Marina Mall building.

LoBue did not rule out Placer County’s involvement at the site in the future. The county could still be involved if the private project fails to be approved, or if a partnership is needed to build a landing for a proposed water taxi.

“We are in a wait-and-see spot right now,” he said.