Guest column: ‘Loop Road’ fails to address lack of parking in Stateline (opinion)
In mid-November, I attended the public hearing on the EIR/EIS for the Loop Road at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board meeting, which was held at the old Embassy Suites and in which there was no parking.
If you ever wanted to attend the Oscars but could never get a ticket, you should choose instead to attend the TRPA during one of these major events, and you’ll have the same experience. Everyone is complimenting everyone else, some board members are crying as they cast their vote, and it’s just one big planned event with even some members of the audience wearing special hats in support.
Our lame duck council member, Austin Sass, who was soundly repudiated at the polls, made the motion to approve the EIR/EIS for the Loop Road, claiming that he had recently heard from only three people who opposed the Loop Road: “Mr. Jenkins, Mr. Wallace and Mr. Grego.”
I always felt that Austin was a strong supporter of the Loop Road and since this is likely his last official act, he wanted to go down as a supporter of this project despite its deficiencies and its broad rejection by the citizens of South Lake Tahoe.
But the focus of this article is not on the above and it’s not even about the last council meeting where the lame ducks spent over half of the unallocated reserves of the city, over $2.6 million, so there would be no money for road repair for the next council. Talk about getting even.
What this article is about is the lack of parking in the Stateline area. This concern became further amplified after I spoke to a dear friend whose house was lost in the San Fernando Valley fire and another whose home was lost in Paradise.
So when I sought to find parking at the Old Embassy Suites, which is located next to Harrah’s, I witnessed what has been reported by the Tribune and others; Harrah’s now has paid parking and all the entrances to their parking lots are blocked. It is one big enclosed area with limited access through “toll gates” — everything else is fenced with chain link or cement barricades.
Even access through the Old Embassy Suites is limited to a very narrow road from U.S. 50 to the back of the upper Loop Road and with no access to Harrah’s.
So, upon reflection I have said to myself, paid parking was never approved when these projects were first proposed and paid parking changes the accessibility to the area and while I should be complaining about the parking fees, that is also not part of this story.
What is part of this story is who will be held responsible when there is a fire in the Stateline area and thousands of people are risking injury and death because circulation has been severely restricted. Even the glorious planned Loop Road, as envisioned by the TRPA and their cronies, will not help people travel outside the restricted areas.
Many people died in the Paradise fire because they couldn’t get out, roads were either over encumbered with traffic or closed because of fire. Stateline has become one big night club; with restricted exits in the event of a fire.
Of course, TRPA and the Tahoe Transportation District’s response to this danger will no doubt be that in the event of a major fire or similar emergency, we will all be taking public transit from the affected areas in a calm, organized manner; let’s all hope that the fire event will match up with their limited bus schedule.
That leads me to another point, during the TRPA presentation on the Loop Road, TTD’s Carl Hasty made the unsupported statement that he can get public transportation to work when it hasn’t worked for the last 15 years. Hasty basically said it all depended on more funding, which means more tax dollars wasted instead of having the funds apply to road repair and social economic needs in our community.
Finally, I would like to thank all the over 1,500 citizens that supported and voted for me in the last election. To quote Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Bruce Grego is a South Lake Tahoe resident, former city councilor and recent candidate for South Lake Tahoe City Council.