Paid parking opponents start signature drive in South Lake Tahoe |

Paid parking opponents start signature drive in South Lake Tahoe

Tom Lotshaw

People trying to repeal South Lake Tahoe’s paid-parking program are gathering signatures for their proposed ballot initiative.

Father John Grace was the first person to sign in support of his belief that people come to Tahoe to get away from the hassles of city life, said Peggy Bourland, one of the initiative’s organizers.

People will be knocking on doors and posting petitions in supportive local businesses as they try to collect enough signatures from registered voters to put their initiative on the ballot.

Former councilman Bruce Grego helped write the initiative and has a petition for people to sign in his Barton Avenue law office.

Grego said he voted against paid parking while on the City Council, in part because of its impact on adjacent neighborhoods.

“Some people start trying to avoid paying the fees by moving into neighborhoods. So the city starts putting parking restrictions there,” Grego said. “They make life very complex for those of us that live here.”

Grego also opposes the parking fees.

“We’ve already paid for our streets once through sales taxes and property taxes and now they want to charge us again,” he said.

The proposed initiative would prohibit South Lake Tahoe from charging people to park on public streets or parking lots.

South Lake Tahoe could continue to charge for parking at city-owned garages and assess fines for unlawful vehicle parking. The initiative would not apply to Ski Run Boulevard south of Pioneer Trail.

More than 10 percent of the city’s registered voters must sign the petition within 180 days to put the initiative on the general election ballot. If 15 percent or more sign, the City Council can either adopt the initiative or immediately order a special election.

Supporters of the initiative want the measure on the June 2014 primary ballot, requiring at least 925 signatures to be collected in short order and turned over for validation by mid- to late-January.

“They’d have to be getting it in here real quick if they want to make the June election. But if not, they can always put it on the November election,” said Linda Webster, assistant registrar of voters for El Dorado County.

Grego said he hopes and expects to see a strong show of support for the measure.

“It hurts our image with tourists and for me it just changes the character of our communities. It adds all these restrictive parking signs all over and complicates our lives for the city to collect a few dollars. And we already pay for these roads,” Grego said.

“It’s up to the public. If they feel strongly about this like the people who prepared this petition, I think this will be an interesting election issue.”

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