Parking headaches on both sides of lake |

Parking headaches on both sides of lake

Susan Wood and Megan Michelson
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / A parking enforcement officer tickets a car in the Village Center.

When Mike Schwartz was ticketed several weeks ago for parking near Emerald Bay in an area where Caltrans employees had told him to park earlier that day, he was irritated. But it was only after his wife was ticketed for parking across the street from the Kings Beach movie theater later that week that he decided to take action.

He sent out an e-mail to more than 100 local residents and business owners, asking for feedback on a parking ticket problem he says is getting out of hand. The e-mail stirred some response among other concerned citizens who say they’re also getting tickets for no apparent reason, while some accused parking officers of ticketing cars simply to raise money for their agency. But law enforcement officials responsible for writing the tickets say that’s simply not the case.

The law on local Placer County roadways regarding parking remains the same as it’s nearly always been – no parking in specified areas from November to May for snow removal. Although South Lake Tahoe has signs that indicate no parking only when snow conditions exist, the North Shore’s roads have a blanket no-parking policy. That policy is one thing Schwartz is upset about.

“How can the local (governments) be so uncaring that they put nonsense tickets on cars all day long,” Schwartz wrote in his e-mail. “Where is the respect for the public?”

The South Shore has come a long way with its own parking plight in the last year or so, wrestling with the issue through its redevelopment efforts.

At the Raley’s-anchored Village Center, complaints were made about a two-hour restriction that contractor High Sierra Patrol was enforcing. Letters to the editor were sent to the Tahoe Daily Tribune and unhappy ticketed customers ended up at city administrative hearings to contest their citations. Even employees and store owners at the center showed up at the hearings.

And reports of the local community, accustomed to free parking, had indicated a failure to embrace the concept of paying for parking at the Heavenly Village garage. The city had hired a consultant and changed rates a few times to find the balance between making it affordable for motorists and lucrative enough for the city to make its bond debt payments.

On the North and West shores, Schwartz said that the parking issue has become such a problem that he thinks it’s driving people out of the area.

“I’m totally convinced this problem is also contributing to folks spending more time leaving the North Shore, headed for other recreational opportunities,” he added.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Kirk Bromell said it’s a common misconception for people to think that fees paid through parking violations end up in the CHP’s budget.

“Nearly all of our funds come from vehicle registration fees,” he said. “We are not funded in any way, shape or form by the revenue generated by parking tickets.”

Although Bromell couldn’t say exactly where that money ends up, he said not collecting it within the CHP keeps their officers honest by ensuring they’re ticketing for legal violations and not to increase their profits.

In terms of changing regulations on the North Shore in response to citizens’ concerns, parking officials say there’s not a chance. Caltrans and California Highway Patrol officials say that proper signage has been posted to notify drivers where they can and cannot park and to eliminate any ambiguity.

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