Businesses concerned about proposed snow removal law
It started as a simple agenda item last March at a South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting.
Since then, it has turned into a heated debate between business owners, residents and the city.
The issue is parking on city streets during snow removal season. Businesses and residents say they can’t function without street parking. The city’s public services department claims they need to prohibit street parking so they can clear snow without having to avoid parked cars.
If the City Council decides to pass the new law, vehicles parked on city streets between Nov. 1 and March 31 could be towed and their owners fined $102.
“If that happens, I guess I’d just have to pack my bags and move. It could be devastating,” said Tim Halloran, owner and manager of Nephele’s Restaurant, located on Ski Run Boulevard. “The streets are not there for the convenience of city workers and snow removal. Streets are here for the taxpayers to use, drive over – and park on, if need be.”
However, depending on the level of enforcement by police and public services officers, the ordinance might not be as severe as it sounds, according to Duane Wallace, South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce executive director. The city has asked chamber members to review the proposed ordinance and provide feedback.
“It seems clear that the city’s intent is to give great latitude (in terms of enforcement) when there’s no snow,” Wallace said. “The ordinance does have the ability to hurt business if it is enforced, but the city tells us they will use discretion.”
In white lettering, on red background, the new signs would read “No parking on roadways or shoulders, Nov. 1 – March 31, violators may be subject to $102 fine and towing, unless otherwise posted.”
The present law was adopted by the City Council in 1972, said Public Services Director Teri Jamin. But ineffective wording led to much confusion over the years, she said, frustrating both residents and visitors.
The old signs read, “Vehicles parked on any street so as to interfere with snow removal equipment will be towed and/or cited.”
People need to understand, Jamin stressed, that just because the plows have passed through doesn’t necessarily mean snow removal is complete. Cutting back on roadside pileup, pushing back berms and snow blowing until the street reaches its full width are all part of the process. Only at that point could a driver potentially park on the street without getting fined or towed, Jamin said.
“We are proposing this change because it is more effective in terms of snow removal than what we’re doing now,” Jamin said. “It’s a system used in a lot of other jurisdictions with very good results.”
But Halloran, who has lived in Tahoe since 1977, sees the new law as potentially very dangerous to his business.
“I’m afraid that if someone comes from Houston, Texas and sees a ‘No Parking’ sign, they just plain aren’t going to park here. I need that business, I need street parking,” Halloran said. “The city has been marvelous to me over the years. I’m not mad at them, I just don’t understand the need for this new law.”
Special exceptions apply for parking in the vicinity of Heavenly Ski Resort in upper Ski Run Boulevard and Roger Avenue, behind the U.S. Forest Service building.
LITTLE BREAKOUT: for resident concerns etc. – no idea how you want to format this!
Call Teri Jamin, public services director, at (530) 542-6025
or come to the meeting
What: South Lake Tahoe City Council Meeting, two readings on the ordinance
When: July 6 and 20, at 6 p.m.
Where: City Council Chambers, 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
BIGGER BREAKOUT – Proposed enforcement
n Before the beginning of winter, the city will mail out fliers about the parking regulations to the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association, South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce and vacation rental businesses, requesting that they make their employees and visitors aware of the law.
n Beginning Nov. 1, the city will issue warnings to vehicles parked in streets, as a means of educating drivers to begin finding off-street parking alternatives.
n The city will advise the media once snow removal begins. During the times when continuous snow removal is necessary, police and public service officers will begin issuing parking citations and towing vehicles.
n After a storm, once snow removal is no longer necessary, enforcement will be scaled back to issuing warnings.
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