Marriott extends hand to Tahoe residents |

Marriott extends hand to Tahoe residents

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

This one’s for you, locals.

Stakeholders in the public and private sectors are throwing out the red carpet to South Lake Tahoe residents during the week of Oct. 6 at the Marriott-anchored complex.

The party starts in the parking lot. The city is offering three hours of free parking with validation all day from Oct. 6-9 at the garage as a way to acclimate locals to the Park Avenue complex.

It continues with 2-for-1 Heavenly Gondola rides Oct. 8-12 and live entertainment taking to the streets Oct. 11.

Heather Howell welcomes the news.

The Stateline woman parked at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe when she brought a friend to the shopping center Monday. It was her first time there.

“Parking is an issue for me. That’s what stops us from coming more often,” she said, admitting she parks at the Crescent V Shopping Center when she visits the Marriott complex. “Unfortunately, I know in some cities people pay to park, but when I spend $300 at Raley’s, I’m not going to pay $12 to park in a garage.”

The $20 daily rate was lowered by the city last month to $12.25.

A free half-hour of validated parking was also granted, with most merchants requiring a purchase. Some ask for a purchase as high as $50 to receive validation.

But it’s a delicate balance for the city. It must make at least $74,000 a month on the garage to satisfy its bond obligations at the $6.6 million facility. Locals have not warmed up to the idea of paying for parking and the choices are limited.

Parking limits have been enforced on nearby streets and at Crescent V, where merchants there are struggling to endure lackluster business in the construction zone.

Wolfgang Puck kitchen manager Luis Ubaldo Garcia said the parking issues at Heavenly Village have hindered business.

“We’d have more business (otherwise). Parking is an issue. By the time people order and eat, the half-hour is gone,” he said.

So incentives — by means of marketing — have topped the list as necessary efforts to expand the reach of business near Stateline. Beyond the give and take from local government, City Manager Dave Jinkens said it takes the cooperation of the Heavenly Village merchants to get residents to embrace the complex.

“There’s always some apprehension by local people when a redevelopment project is being built. They ask: How is that for us?” Jinkens said.

Visitors have outnumbered locals at the center by at least 2-to-1. The city wants to change those numbers — and the perception the complex was designed solely for tourists.

“My impression is that it’s for tourists,” William Bandes of Zephyr Cove said. The movie buff said he is looking forward to seeing the Park Avenue theater opened in early spring, which will bring more viewing options. The city has pledged to give at least two hours of free validated parking for moviegoers. “That would help bring out the locals,” Bandes said.

From staff to council, the city has recognized the Park Avenue challenge and wants to step up to the plate. For some, it takes putting themselves in the pedestrian-friendly villager’s shoes.

“For having lived here so long, my feeling is we have to be able to give locals something that’s an experience,” City Councilwoman Kathay Lovell said.

Lovell serves on a joint marketing committee, which has come up with ideas to promote the plaza. One involves a locals’ ‘discount card.

“We’ve got to put something in their hands and it’s got to be more than ice cream,” said Lovell, who recently took her grandchildren to lunch and to the new arcade at the village.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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