Parking issues are nothing new for cities and towns that cater to tourists. In Lake Havasu City, the parking bottleneck occurs mostly in the area near the London Bridge, where new investments in hotels, restaurants and shops have created additional interest for visitors.
Coupled with the Chemehuevi Tribe’s new hotel resort and casino expansion across the lake, it’s safe to say visitor interest in the English Village area is probably higher than it’s been since the days of Lorne Pratt and Robert McCulloch.
All of that additional economic activity comes with some inevitable parking headaches. We’re the victims of our own success in that regard. We say the headaches were “inevitable” because that’s what happens when you allow for a lot of growth to occur but do little to address parking.
It’s no wonder that VRE, the company that owns much of the area we think of as the English Village, has now hired security guards to enforce parking rules, particularly when guests of the Havasu Landing casino start to spill over into VRE-owned lots.
Nobody can be blamed for wanting to ensure their own customers have adequate parking.
However, it makes little sense to frustrate visitors over this, and the parking issues are only going to come to more of a head as development continues to progress (keep in mind the Havasu Landing’s new hotel and casino won’t open until July, and VRE has plans sitting on a shelf for another new hotel in that same area.)
It’s better that the community deal with the parking situation now. True, it’s a conflict between private businesses, but it’s in Lake Havasu City’s interest to ensure the best visitor experience possible when it comes to a trip to the London Bridge.
Squabbling land owners won’t do much to achieve that.
A couple of options come to mind. Paid and validated parking is one solution. Besides acting as something of a parking regulator, paid parking could turn the lots along London Bridge Road into money generators of their own for their respective owners. A parking garage is another option – and it’s probably one that should be considered if more hotels are truly in the future for that area. It’s appeared to have worked well enough for Laughlin.
Finally, Lake Havasu City ought to consider restoring the old shuttle services, making use of the public parking areas on Mesquite Avenue as overflow parking for the English Village. In addition to giving people a relaxing way to visit Havasu’s top tourist attraction, it could also help introduce them to other areas of the community they might not otherwise see, such as the uptown McCulloch district.
Bottom line: Havasu is built around a bridge, and it’s time to bridge the gap when it comes to parking problems.
— Today’s News-Herald