Ex-lodging president opposes basin parking fee, toll | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Ex-lodging president opposes basin parking fee, toll

The former president of the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association said Thursday that he would “go to war” to prevent approval of two of 20 proposed ways to fund environmental projects.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is looking for input on the Alternative Revenue Source Study Phase 1 before going to bid for Phase 2 of the study which will take a closer look at a few of the 20 proposals.

The study “is an issue that absolutely should have each person in this room and the entire community involved in,” Ed McCarthy told the association. “Of the 20 taxes being considered, there are two I would go to war on.”

Those two are the basin impact fee, which requires a vehicle entering the basin to pay a fee, and a parking fee. The original parking fee study included toll gates on lodging parking lots as well as other public and private parking areas.

McCarthy, whose family owns four lodging properties in the city, was particularly frustrated with the parking fee. About a year ago, during McCarthy’s tenure as association president, TRPA Executive Director Jim Beatge told the association the parking fee was a “dead issue.”

In previous discussions, TRPA officials have maintained that the first phase of the Alternative Revenue Source Study was designed to find every possible source of funding for environmental improvements. The second phase, being designed now, will take a closer look at the most feasible and acceptable methods.

The chambers of commerce and visitors authorities around the lake are sponsoring a series of forums to discuss the 20 proposed revenue sources and vote on the proposals preferred by forum participants.

McCarthy urged those at the meeting to get involved.

Two forums are scheduled Tuesday at South Shore.

A luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. is scheduled at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and costs $15. Reservations can be made by calling the Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce at (775) 588-4591.

A general forum will begin at 6 p.m. at Lakeside Inn & Casino.

“The effort here is to steer, rather than just ride the bus,” Duane Wallace, executive director of the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, said of the involvement of the business community in the study, including helping fund it. “Putting up the money for the study gave us a buy-in to the process. We need to ask (in phase two of the study) how it will affect our economy.”

In other business at the Lodging Association meeting:

— The association members unanimously passed a change to the by-laws specifically saying the organization will steer clear of any involvement in trying to prevent lodging owners from posting price signs.

The by-law change is in response to an Federal Trade Commission investigation that followed an informal 1997 agreement, spearheaded by the now disbanded East Indian Association, to remove the signs to improve the look of the community and prevent price wars.

— Percentages were up significantly in January for the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority’s central reservations number, reported Cindy Armitage, property liaison for the system managers, the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.

The abandonment rate, which remains high at 18 percent, was 40 percent decrease compared to last year.

Reservations increased by 52.5 percent; room nights increased by 167 percent and revenue increased by 160 percent.

“We’re doing good,” she said.

The NLTRA took over operations of the system in December 1997 and remodeled to install more phone agents stations in fall of 1998.

— The next meeting of the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association will be March 11 at the Forest Inn.

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