Pay to park, it’s in your story |

Pay to park, it’s in your story

Jenifer Ragland

With redevelopment comes more people. With more people comes more cars. With more cars comes more parking – and drivers will most likely have to pay for it.

As the South Shore attempts to become a more transit-oriented community, an increase in the amount of paid parking is inevitable.

The logic? If it is more difficult for people to use their cars, they will opt to take public transportation instead.

“The bottom line is that we are going to see more and more paid parking on the South Shore in the future,” said Judith Von Klug, city redevelopment manager. “It is strongly encouraged by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to encourage people to use transit.”

Von Klug said she wouldn’t be surprised if the TRPA started limiting the amount of parking spaces in a project.

“Instead of saying ‘you are required to put in this many,’ they may say ‘you can only put in this many,'” she said. “Again the hope is to have people use transit as much as possible.”

Parking management needed

Jim Allison, TRPA associate transportation planner, said requiring paid parking is not a policy of the TRPA, but is not an unthinkable move for the future.

“We are looking forward to a time when we will need parking management – not just paid parking – as a tool to ensure transit achieves its objectives,” Allison said. “There’s going to be something to be done in the future. Without dealing with parking, there is a hole in transportation plan.”

He said the agency is working on incorporating parking management – which also may include park-and-ride lots and the reallocation of parking spaces – into its long-term transportation plan.

However, the paid parking trend could take off on its own with redevelopment, Allison said.

Because the Park Avenue project includes a paid parking garage, people may look for the closest free spot, which has potential to turn into a “domino effect.”

“Free parking spaces are an attraction and a resource that a place has. If somebody pushes extra people onto that business, they’re going to want to push it off to the next one, and pretty soon everyone is charging,” Allison said. “Redevelopment will start to change that, without question. But we’re going to be trying to plan to change it, too.”

The Ski Run example

One of the first working examples of this is at Ski Run Marina.

With a 210-unit time-share resort, popular tour boat attraction, lake-front dining and unique shopping, the marina redevelopment area has the potential to be a place where there are a lot of people and not a lot of space.

That is why the proponents of the project had always intended to rely heavily on public transportation, Von Klug said. Tahoe Queen brochures and advertisements encourage the use of free shuttles, the Nifty Fifty trolley or public buses, and the entire marina operation caters to tourists who are likely to take public transit, walk or bike to the area.

But construction has been an aspect of Ski Run for the past several years, which has contributed to parking woes. The marina is also operating on an interim parking plan until the required amount of spaces can be built.

The current 101-space lot is about 30 spaces short of what it needs to be when Reva’s Grill opens in December, Von Klug said.

The shortage was caused by the city’s decision to move Al’s Chevron to its location behind the marina, where parking was designated under the original redevelopment plan approved by the TRPA. The relocation of the gas station made it the city’s responsibility to replace that parking, and Von Klug said the redevelopment agency will acquire land in the area to do so.

Despite the parking space shortage, the marina village has not experienced any major parking dilemmas since it has started to take shape, said Kelly Krolicki, spokeswoman for Hornblower Cruises Lake Tahoe.

Public transit and pedestrian traffic has been very successful at the marina, and that success should only increase with the planned Coordinated Transit System and the completion of Linear Park, Krolicki said.

Free parking for locals

While the lot occasionally filled to capacity in the summer because of Tahoe Queen passengers, she said it should not be a problem during the rest of the year.

But because of people’s resistance to paying to park their cars, Krolicki said the marina is trying to be more “locals friendly.”

During the non-summer months, anyone with a local ID can park in the lot for free with a locals’ card, which can be obtained from the parking attendant.

“I think a lot of locals tried to come down and saw you had to pay for parking, so they just turned around,” Krolicki said. “The idea is if you charge for parking it will discourage people from driving their cars, but it may discourage people from coming altogether.”

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