KINGS BEACH, Calif. — A popular North Shore recreation area will remain open year-round once California State Parks and the California Tahoe Conservancy take it over this fall.
Starting in November, the agencies will partner on management of Kings Beach State Recreation Area. State parks will perform day-to-day operations there and at some conservancy-owned properties, with the conservancy funding a portion of work.
Since its creation in 1978, the state parks-owned rec area has been managed by the North Tahoe Public Utility District, which kept the park and parking lot open year-round — a service state parks will continue, officials announced Tuesday.
“We didn’t want to limit access to it, and (we) understand its importance,” said Vicky Waters, deputy director of public affairs for California State Parks, on Wednesday.
NTPUD was under the impression a seasonal winter closure was possible based on a January email indicating state parks’ interest in taking over, according to previous reports.
“We need the parking lot,” said Meera Beser, a Kings Beach resident, at a special NTPUD board of directors meeting Monday. “I hate saying it, but the darn piece of asphalt is kind of the lifeblood of Kings Beach. We need it.”
The lot provides parking for area businesses; government meetings, events and fitness classes in the North Tahoe Event Center; and 1,700 feet of lakefront beach.
A NTPUD news release last week detailed district concerns of such a closure, including a potential decrease in travel and loss of jobs and businesses.
“(To say) that the livelihood of the businesses and residents of this community are dependent on a parking lot that sits vacant 75 percent of the year, probably, I just think that’s a gross misrepresentation,” said Dave Polivy, a Kings Beach resident and owner of Tahoe Mountain Sports. “I think it’s inaccurate, and I think it’s contrary to all of the hard work that the community and the volunteers ... have been putting forward.”
State parks is exploring a Right of Entry Permit with NTPUD to plow the parking lot during winters.
In addition, state parks and the conservancy will host a community meeting this spring to gather input on the transition and potential improvements. The rec area has an estimated $800,000 in deferred maintenance, not including about $600,000 in ADA improvements.
In the meantime, state Sen. Ted Gaines and Assemblyman Brian Dahle will host a town hall meeting from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 20, at the North Tahoe Event Center, where members of the public can share feedback and questions with officials.
“This will be a seamless transition with no loss of services to the public, to visitors or to the community,” California State Parks Director Anthony L. Jackson said in a statement. “Our partnership with the Tahoe Conservancy will allow us to manage all state-owned parkland on Tahoe’s north shore with a shared vision and more efficient service.”
Under the agreement, state parks will acquire conservancy-owned land adjacent to Burton Creek, Washoe Meadows, Lake Valley and Emerald Bay State Park, and work with Nevada State Parks to develop an agreement to jointly manage Van Sickle Bi-State Park. The conservancy also will acquire 18 vacant lots owned by state parks in the Rubicon subdivision on Tahoe’s west shore.
NTPUD General Manager Paul Schultz said staff is looking into details of the partnership.