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Planners call Lake Tahoe parking shortage a big problem

TRUCKEE, Calif. - Regional planners developing a comprehensive transportation blueprint for Lake Tahoe over the next two decades say the shortage of public parking spaces is a bigger problem than they thought.

While some parts of Tahoe's southern and western shores in California average one parking space for roughly every 800 visitors, other areas have more than 6,000 visitors per parking spot, the Sierra Sun newspaper reported (http://tinyurl.com/m6fwzms ).

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency published a draft last month of its plan for the lake through 2035. The agency's governing board intends to review the plan Wednesday before a 30-day comment period expires Friday.

Plans call for developing new bus transit systems around the lake as well as water ferry service linking the north and south shores. Officials hope to increase transit frequency from 60-minute to 30-minute intervals.

The area is home to only 55,000 full-time residents, about 10 million vehicles visited last year.

The biggest shortage of public parking identified so far is around the northwest quarter of the lake from Sugar Pine Point on California State Route 89 to the Nevada state line on State Highway 28.

The ratio there is 6,441 visitors for every parking spot, according to data used in the draft. That means about 6.7 million vehicles travel that stretch a year.

"We all know parking's an issue, but when you start comparing it to parking spaces, you realize the number of parking spaces available to us is abysmal, and they're not in the recreational areas," Tahoe Transportation District Manager Carl Hasty told the newspaper.

Another of the most travelled areas around the lake is the Nevada side — a 28-mile stretch of Nevada State Route 28 on the north shore from the Nevada-California line at Crystal Bay south to Stateline. The area recorded an estimated 4.5 million trips with a visitor-to-parking ratio of 3,736-to-1.

Hasty said the transportation plan acknowledges the reality that because the region's main roads run along the perimeter of the lake, they cannot be expanded to meet the growing traffic demands. And transit shuttles require parking areas.

"If we're ever going to be successful in getting people to use transit and reduce vehicle trips, we need to address parking," he said.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is a bistate compact that regulates the lake and use of its shores.

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Information from: Sierra Sun.

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