Traffic congestion a day-after dilemma
From the looks of Stateline at 9 a.m. Monday, it was hard to tell this was the site of Lake Tahoe biggest, longest-running party of the year.
But that was only the eye of the hurricane.
The rest of the storm spilled out that afternoon onto the westbound lanes of U.S. Highway 50.
And depending on your irritability threshold, the bumper-to-bumper, walking-pace traffic was a continuation of the party. In between the honks of impatient drivers, a few young women in a small sedan yelled “Happy New Year” to a handful of young men walking on the sidewalk in front of KMTN. The men reciprocated with their own hoots and hollers.
Greg Haran, 18, of Marin County, had 300 more miles to go before the party would be officially over. He and his buddy, who woke up on the floor of “a strange hotel room,” bit the hair of the dog that bit them and caught a ride out of town in the bed of a pickup.
The stream of motorists turned into long cash-register receipts at the Chevron gas station at Ski Run Boulevard.
“Gas, groceries. It’s been a booming business today,” Chevron manager Al Moss said, standing at his station’s entrance to face the line of cars filling up before heading out of town. “It’s a good thing there wasn’t a snowstorm.”
Nearly 60,000 people came to party in a giant, quarter-mile-long love-in of sorts at Stateline this New Year’s Eve, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office reported at 4 a.m.
Every year, the mix of alcohol and crowds puts law enforcement and emergency-room personnel in the region on a heightened state of alert.
But to the state, county and local authorities who worked the rancorous shift on both sides of the line, it turned out to be a relatively safe holiday.
“It could have been a lot worse. (Lake Tahoe) did pretty well,” Barton Memorial Hospital Nursing Supervisor Angela Moore said Monday of injuries wheeled into the hospital’s emergency room.
Granted, Moore said her staff responded to quite a few minor cuts from falls or fights among drunken teenagers, ages 19 to 25 – which was reflective of the young crowd that assembled. But by all standards, the number of calls brought in was appropriate to the numbers authorities had predicted, she said.
Even though a record crowd was reported in the casino corridor, the number of arrests was about average.
Douglas County deputies booked 50 people for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.
Those charges seemed to be the order of the night on the California side too, as the El Dorado County jail in Lake Tahoe took in 24 revelers overnight.
“I did expect more people booked,” Sgt. Erick Boggs said that morning, adding that there were no violent felonies among that cluster of offenders.
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A $20,000 fine and permanent ban could eventually await those operating vacation home rentals in Douglas County without a permit.