Whoever said you can’t fight City Hall, hasn’t met the 1,422 South Lake Tahoe voters that signed the petition to remove the city’s parking meters. In December 2012 the city council voted to put meters all over town to make some easy money to save two police jobs. It has not been easy. The $300,000 investment (much of it borrowed) in equipment along with the high employee and operating costs have sunk this program. With the projected meter revenue lagging, the program has focused on citations to keep it afloat. Since this budget driven parking enforcement program began, the parking police have become ubiquitous.
The “push-back” from the local residents was significant and eventually caused a grass roots citizens group ( Tahoe 4 Tahoe) to gather signatures so a ballot measure to repeal parking meters could be brought before the voters. South Lake Tahoe Voters will have that opportunity on June 3.
If you support the meters because you believe that they make money for the city, you are misinformed. The city’s entire citation revenue was added to the parking meter revenue for the October 2013 budget review to make it look like the program is turning a profit. This is a shell game. Either the meters make money on their own or they don’t.
There is a mistaken belief that parking meters equal profits. That equation may be true where you have year round demand for parking, but beach parking demand in Tahoe exists for just three to four months. Local businesses understand this seasonal business model. Unfortunately, government doesn’t think like a business. Our city is able to use taxpayer money to perpetuate failed revenue ideas, like the city’s parking garage, ice arena, airport, etc., etc.
As a tacit admission of the program’s failure, the city has temporarily removed the meters on Paradise Ave and Venice Drive and put them in storage after just a few months of operation. The cost to taxpayers for this failure is $125,000. Both locations were losing money due to the lack of customers.
Many of the unintended consequences of the parking meter program are: Employees with no place to park, businesses with fewer customers, businesses impacted by people avoiding paid parking, residents near paid parking being required to have permits to park in front of their own homes and locals avoiding popular places to walk their dogs or visit the Lake.
A “yes” vote on Measure P will permanently remove the parking meters from Venice Drive, Paradise Ave, Lakeview Commons (El Dorado Beach) and Lakeside Blvd. in front of the privately owned Lakeside Beach.
The city is claiming they will lose $300,000 in net revenue if Measure P passes. The facts are: The city’s projected gross annual income from the two currently operating meter locations is $170,000 (133,000 has actually been collected to date ). However, in the first quarter (Oct-Dec) of the fiscal year the city reported that parking meters lost $25,000. Now take away the $48,000 loan payment, the $41,000 start-up costs, parking police salaries/benefits and operating expenses and you will find that this program is actually losing money
We have been a city since 1965 and until now have never sought revenue by lining our streets with parking meters. Surely there are other tourist -derived revenue solutions that would actually generate income.
Tahoe needs more customers not more fees and taxes.
Vote “yes” on Measure P to remove parking meters from our streets and beaches. Let’s Keep Tahoe “Tahoe.”
Peggy Bourland-Madison is a 42 year resident of South Lake Tahoe.