KINGS BEACH, Calif. — California politicians are getting behind a drive to preserve the status quo at Kings Beach State Recreation Area.
“Major potential changes to Kings Beach Recreation Area threaten to choke off public access to this critical piece of the North Tahoe community and economy,” state Sen. Ted Gaines said in a Tuesday statement, referring to a potential seasonal closure of the popular tourist area by California State Parks.
To prevent that from happening, Gaines and Assemblyman Brian Dahle have introduced a bill that would allow local operation and funding to continue, and for the North Tahoe Public Utility District to obtain ownership of the state parks-owned area.
California Senate Bill 832 also proposes keeping the facility open year-round. The bill is waiting to go before the Natural Resources and Water Committee, which sees bills related to conservation and management of public resources, including parks
Last month, NTPUD adopted a resolution supporting the bill.
“... The community stands behind Senator Gaines and Assemblyman Dahle and is ready to accept ownership (and) keep the beach, pier, restrooms and parking open all year and provide necessary improvements and financial support,” the district said in a press release Tuesday. “This will result in meeting state parks’ Strategic Action Plan and goals without either closing facilities or costing the state a penny. It is the logical and smart approach.”
To discuss the issue, Gaines has scheduled a town hall meeting from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 20, at the North Tahoe Event Center at 8318 North Lake Blvd. Representatives from California Sate Parks, California Tahoe Conservancy and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, among others, will be present.
“Come share your concerns and ideas to help preserve this family-friendly park, beach and event center for everyone in the region,” Gaines said in a statement.
Since December 1978, the NTPUD has managed the area under an agreement with state parks that expired Dec. 5, 2008. Since, NTPUD has continued operations on a month-to-month basis.
In late January, NTPUD reportedly was informed by email of state parks’ interest in taking over the rec area in November 2014, with a draft plan to close the gate and restrooms from November to March.
Such a closure is raising concerns about potential impacts to the Kings Beach economy — ranging from a decrease in travel to the area to a loss of jobs and businesses.
In a recent interview with the Sierra Sun, however, Vicky Waters, deputy director of public affairs for California State Parks, insisted no operational decision has been made, and community input will be taken before one is.