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Parking garage is costing money, visitors

Gary Wyles

For approximately the past four years, the city’s Heavenly Village parking garage has reportedly lost money. Gene Palazzo, director of redevelopment and supervisor over the municipal parking garage, has exhibited a total lack of marketing and business sense.

When recently asked if he would consider taking an hour away from the movie theater’s four-hour validation and providing one-hour free parking to all visitors to the garage, Palazzo suggested he could not do so because of the $8 million debt he inherited with the building of this garage. It appears Palazzo believes the garage is the only business that incurs debt in the beginning, and any thought of any business introducing marketing and sales strategy to promote its success is contrary to his way of thinking.

Last week, the financial wizards on the South Lake Tahoe City Council voted 5-0 to raise the parking rate from $3 to $3.50 per hour — making it one of the most expensive municipal parking garages in California. Based upon that rationale, it appears we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that Councilman Jerry Birdwell has raised rates at his bed-and-breakfast to motivate more visitors to stay in his establishment during the off-season.

Of course, this is ridiculous thinking, as no business can defend these absurd tactics unless you are supported by the South Lake Tahoe City Council.

My recent lawsuit against the city was an attempt to reveal the city’s false motives and disguise under which they allege their sole purpose is to insure adequate parking space for customers exclusive to the Village Center.

Wake up, folks! The city’s primary focus is to insure that every local, tourist and businessperson be forced to park in the municipal parking garage and pay for their absence of any positive marketing strategy or promotion.

Two weeks ago, Terry Hackett, Village Center owner, suggested that with all the Village Center monthly business transactions and the parking patrol’s alleged abusive behavior, “we have a handful of complaints.”

Mr. Hackett, Mr. Palazzo and City Council members — you just don’t get it! From January 2006 to May 2007, more than 1,800 parking citations have been issued in the Village Center, generating approximately $90,000 in city revenues. Sadly, most of those customers did not complain. They merely chose not to return to the area.

There are many wonderful and eclectic shops in the Village Center and Heavenly Village. Please take a moment to write or call members of the City Council to let them know they cannot continue this outrageous behavior at the expense of losing locals, tourists and businesses.

— Gary Wyles is owner of Cowboys & Indians in Heavenly Village


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