Sidewalks for downtown Kings Beach?
Easier walking access? Lights and benches?
A more beautiful main street?
These dreams may finally become a reality as the Placer County Kings Beach Community Plan Improvement Project is close to final approval.
In the past two weeks, two public meetings about the changes planned for the Kings Beach commercial core, one for the TRPA advisory committee and one for the Placer County Planning Commission, have resulted in unanimous votes for the community plan improvement project. Both groups voted for a plan that would change Highway 28 to a two lane road with a middle turn lane through Kings Beach. The plan for Highway 28 is to add wide sidewalks, remove some on-street parking, make the downtown more visually attractive and encourage people to walk and bicycle around town. Two roundabouts at Bear and Coon Streets would be added to slow traffic but keep it moving as much as possible.
A few changes are planned for the neighborhoods of Kings Beach away from the highway. Sidewalks will be added on one side of the road on the first block from Highway 28 on Secline, Deer, Bear, Coon, Fox and Chipmunk Streets. Quite a few people are concerned that as result of the main street project more traffic may be diverted into the neighborhood. The county has identified $100,000 to be spent on traffic calming measures in the grid.
Some people have expressed preference for an alternative plan that would keep the highway four lanes with a middle turn lane. They feel that this will keep traffic flowing faster, and will decrease the number of drivers who take shortcuts through the grid where streets are more narrow and many people walk.
Two more meetings are scheduled to take final votes on whether to accept the three lane or four lane alternative. The TRPA governing board is scheduled to hear public comments and take a vote Wednesday, June 25, in Incline Village. The Placer County Board of Supervisors is scheduled for a final vote in July. The last few meetings have drawn more than 100 people each with dozens making public comments for each alternative.
Whichever alternative is chosen, it's clear that Kings Beach is about to get a much anticipated facelift. Adding sidewalks and other features to encourage walking will significantly change how residents and visitors experience the downtown area. It also will encourage more conversation and planning for how to make back streets safer for pedestrians and discourage through traffic.
Voting to implement the commercial core plan will be just the beginning for community members to work together on implementing and adding to the work the county is about to do here. This is a good time to start a conversation about what neighbors can be doing in the grid to monitor traffic, research traffic calming measures, and identify useful signage. The plan will change Kings Beach in many ways; it's up to the residents to make sure all the qualities that make Kings Beach a special place to live are nurtured and protected.