El Dorado Beach parking a problem | TahoeDailyTribune.com

El Dorado Beach parking a problem

Sarah Gonser

Parking has been a problem at El Dorado Beach for 25 years.

In 1974, the city of South Lake Tahoe built the concrete boat ramp, underpass and tiny lot at the end of Harrison Avenue where boat owners still park their trailers. On weekends and holidays, cars and sport utility vehicles line the surrounding streets, blocking views around the tight intersections and trimming traffic flow down to a single lane.

“Parking gets pretty horrible around here, usually beginning Saturday mornings around 10 a.m. and then through the weekend,” said boat ramp cashier Phil Wolf. “We’ve only got 36 trailer rig spots, one handicapped parking space and three car spaces.”

The South Lake Tahoe City Council Tuesday approved a proposal eliminating parking on the westerly side of Harrison Avenue, between San Jose and Lakeview avenues. Adjacent property owners made the request because they feared the overflow of vehicles and boat trailers parked on both sides of the street blocked emergency access, and endangered pedestrians by blocking their view of oncoming traffic.

According to parks superintendent Steve Weiss, the skimpy parking was not oversight by the city, it was necessity. The small parcel of land on which the parking lot was built was the only space owned by the city at the time they built the boat ramp – all other neighboring properties belonged to private parties.

“That was the extent of what we owned, we couldn’t really do anything else at the time,” Weiss said. “But we’ve known we need more parking there for a long time.”

Although the parking situation has not changed much over the years, the city has bought several lots of land nearby, in the hopes of one day addressing the problem. Currently, boat trailers often park on these empty lots, although they are not considered official parking spaces.

Construction funding for a parking lot could potentially come from Boating and Waterways, a state agency heavily supported through boater’s tax. But before providing monetary assistance on projects, Boating and Waterways require that all overhead utility and electrical lines leading from a parking lot to a boat ramp be put underground.

“That means we need to use property as close as possible to the beach so we don’t incur the high cost of putting that all underground,” said city engineer Brad Vidro. “Boating and Waterways will fund development, but we need to fund property acquisition funds.”

With that end in mind, Weiss said the city is now eying the Timberlake Inn property, directly opposite the present parking lot, off San Jose Avenue. Since the city already owns a lot in the rear of the parcel, Weiss feels purchasing Timberlake would be the most logical solution. The owners of the property were not available for comment Friday.

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