Gondola parking a problem
By Robert Stern, Tribune Staff Writer
Heavenly Ski Resort’s $20 million gondola will open in two days and plans for a paid parking agreement at the Crescent V shopping center have not been resolved.
“The city has suggested, as have others, that it would be desirable to provide some gondola parking, but Raley’s has objected,” said Lew Feldman, an attorney for Terry Hackett, the leaseholder of the Crescent V.
Hackett and the South Tahoe Redevelopment Agency had hoped for paid parking to be in place for the opening of the gondola. But Raley’s officials are concerned that paid parking would discourage customers. Larry Hoffman, an attorney for Raley’s, said the regional supermarket has a contract with Crescent V that gives it final approval on parking changes.
“It is frustrating because the lower parking lot at Raley’s has been vastly underutilized and it is situated to handle this demand,” Feldman said.
There has been ongoing communication between Raley’s and Crescent V concerning a desired 150-car section of the lot to be used for gondola parking. But Feldman is not optimistic that an agreement will be met by Thursday.
“They have not evidenced any flexibility whatsoever either in the short-term plan or the long-term plan,” Feldman said.
But with the gondola located across the street from the Crescent V shopping center, some gondola riders undoubtedly will take advantage of the free parking.
“I think it is to Raley’s advantage to have an agreement,” said Councilman Tom Davis. “Obviously, when the gondola opens people will be parking there.”
Redevelopment Manager Jaye Von Klug said the parking issue is not a responsibility of the city or redevelopment agency.
“This is really not a city issue, this is a landlord-tenant dispute,” Von Klug said.
But a parking agreement at Crescent V is directly tied into paid parking at the future 520-car parking garage at the proposed Heavenly Grand Summit Resort Hotel. Without the ability to charge for parking at the Crescent V, it would be hard to require paid parking at the Grand Summit, officials said. Paid parking at the Grand Summit is required by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Parking Management Agreement.
“The purpose of the gondola is to be able to go skiing without having to get into (a car),” Von Klug said. “It is not for someone in the (Tahoe) Keys to drive to the gondola. It is not convenient.”
If an agreement is not worked out between Crescent V and Raley’s, the redevelopment agency may attempt to take parking from Raley’s by eminent domain, a cost that would be shouldered by Tahoe Crescent V Partners, the owners of the shopping center, Feldman said.
But Hoffman is confident that taking on the supermarket chain would be too expensive.
“It is inconceivable to me that the dollars are available,” he said.
Councilman Bill Crawford said the parking situation is a fiasco.
“It would be far less expensive to have free parking at the Grand Summit than to take on Raley’s,” Crawford said.
Heavenly is not required by the city or the TRPA to provide parking. Dennis Harmon, the president of Heavenly, has said the intent of the gondola is to serve people staying in the 6,000-plus hotel and motel rooms in Stateline. Area Transit Management will provide bus service to the gondola.
“If you’re going to ski, it is way more convenient to drive to the lodge,” Von Klug said. “But we acknowledge for the first year the gondola is new and people will want to check it out.”
But Councilwoman Brooke Laine said that parking is a key component of the project.
“Parking on a temporary or permanent basis is going to be absolutely essential to the success of the project,” Laine said. “We need to make it a priority that it be resolved quickly and with everybody’s mutual concurrence.”
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