Prior to the 2019-20 winter season, Northstar Mountain Resort announced it would begin charging for parking, claiming the move would ease parking congestion at the resort and encourage people to carpool and use ride sharing apps to get to the slopes. For many locals, it was seen as a money grab for the resorts new owners, Vail Resorts, and now two season-pass holders are trying to get rid of the fee for the season.
Crystal Bay attorney Steven Kroll and fellow resident Ronald Code filed a lawsuit in Nevada in December alleging fraud and breach of contract against Vail Resorts, the ownership group of Northstar, in regards to the new parking fee. The two argue that they had already purchased their season passes before the fee was announced, thus breaching the contract of the season pass.
The new parking fee includes charging $10 on weekdays and $20 on weekends at the Village View parking lot. The ski resort still offers free parking down at its Castle Peak lot, which skiers and snowboarders have to take a shuttle to get to the slopes.
“I was surprised as everybody had to be in discovering, after having purchased my season ticket for Northstar that one of the main attractions was not there anymore,” said Kroll to the Tahoe Daily Tribune. “I believe people can change rules in advance, they can’t do it retrospectively.”
While Northstar officials argued that the new fee was to alleviate traffic and promote carpools, many locals saw it simply as a money grab Vail Resorts, which also owns Heavenly Ski Resort and Kirkwood Mountain Resort in Tahoe.
“It is our priority to provide the best possible experience for our guests and their families,” said Deirdra Walsh, vice president and general manager of Northstar in a press release at the time the fees were announced. “Through a conscious decision to control our parking resources, we expect to significantly reduce traffic flow on Northstar Drive, which will ultimately improve our parking and transportation experience for guests.”
In the lawsuit, Kroll and Code argued that if they used their passes to their fullest extent, they would accrue $2,000 in additional costs over the season. And if they parked in the free Castle Peak lot, they would have to navigate “long slotted-steel stairways in heavy, clumsy ski boots while bearing their skis and any other equipment.” The lawsuit hopes to relieve everybody from the fee for the rest of the season.
“The first (claim) is the one that, if I win it, will give everybody their rights back not just me,” Kroll said.