Parking fee discussion continues

Eric Heinz

Paying for parking continues to be a contentious issue in South Lake Tahoe.

During the Tuesday City Council meeting, city officials gave a presentation in regard to the city’s Parking Management Program and revenue collected so far.

Since July, the city has collected fees for parking and from citations for not complying with the city’s parking mandate.

Outlining these requirements has been somewhat of a strangled route, City Manager Nancy Kerry said.

Kerry said in past years, consensus from the community about parking enforcement and management was not consistent; some people said it was enforced while others said it was not.

The need for a comprehensive program was evident, Kerry said.

“This Parking Management Program, while it is somewhat controversial, is a small piece of our … approximately $90 million corporation we’re managing here, and this is one aspect of it,” Kerry said.

Consultants told city officials municipalities with waterfront parking, or near the lake, primarily charge for a space, Kerry said.

“Parking is never free, it’s a matter of how you capture it,” she said.

Parking fees at beach kiosks cost $2 per hour or $10 for the day, according to the Parking Program’s brochure. The four-story parking garage that serves Heavenly Village costs $3.75 per hour or $25 for the day.

According to the Parking Management Plan documents, the program collected $402,159 in revenue for the 2012-13 fiscal year through various kiosks, citations and other sources through the program. The city expended $222,230 on staff salaries, equipment and necessities, which included a one-time, $41,447 cost for signs, kiosk installation and code enforcement.

In total, the city has netted $180,783 in profit.

The kiosks rental cost from Parkeon is a consistent $47,968 each year for the next five years, according to program documents.

In the figures, the city expects to make between $234,000 and $324,000 over five years — equaling more than $1.3 million.

“If the program continues to provide the revenue we’re looking at, there’s a potential to invest that in those neighborhoods,” Kerry said.

South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Brian Uhler, who conducted a slideshow presentation, said parking is typically enforced between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., but that could be shortened to 8 p.m.

Parking fees and revenue pay for the program’s employee salaries, which can be as little as 20 percent of their pay to 100 percent, depending on the employee’s position, Uhler said.

Some of the people who commented during the public comment period said that having visitors and locals pay for parking is a deterrent to their business and tourism in the area.

“It’s been a consistent message about how we’re impacting locals,” Uhler said. “That is not what this program is all about.”

Uhler continued by saying there are portions of city programs and projects that have been funded by the city’s current budget. He specifically mentioned maintenance of bathrooms and trash cans around certain areas of town and how parking money can help pay for those services.

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