Developer proposes 550-unit campground at North Tahoe ridgeline
KINGS BEACH, Calif. — Months after a residential development was pulled from consideration, a multi-acre campground proposed on the same piece of basin property near Lake Tahoe’s North Shore is receiving mixed reaction.
An application outlining up to 550 campsites and various amenities on a 104-acre parcel near Brockway Summit was submitted Friday to Placer County and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, said Blake Riva, senior partner with the project developer, Mountainside Partners (formerly East West Partners).
Originally, 112 residential units were planned there as part of a cluster development between Northstar California and the Fiberboard Freeway.
“We were encouraged by certain groups and agencies to explore other opportunities that did not include traditional residential development on basin land,” Riva said in a Monday phone interview. “We concluded that campground — which is a permissible use — would be a good addition to North Lake Tahoe.”
According to Mountainside Partners, Brockway Campground is the first new seasonal campground to be proposed in the Tahoe Basin in more than 20 years.
Of the 2,066 campsites located in the basin, only 46, or 2 percent, are located between Tahoe City and Zephyr Cove, Riva said.
Aside from 550 sites for tents, campers and ecoshelters, the campground proposal includes guest registration, restrooms and showers, gathering areas, a swimming pool, a general store and dining facility.
With the Tahoe Rim Trail located nearby, Mary Bennington, executive director of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association, said she can see the benefits of the campground.
“The location would ideally provide through-hikers with access to amenities that haven’t been available before, including water, secure parking and the ability to store extra supplies in long-term bear boxes,” she said.
Yet the potential influx of people using the trail due to the campground’s proximity is concerning, she said.
“With additional users comes potential impacts on trail maintenance, need for additional education on user courtesy, and making sure new users are aware of the level of difficulty of the trail,” said Bennington, adding that TRTA has not taken a formal position on the proposal.
The League to Save Lake Tahoe is withholding judgment until more details are released, said Executive Director Darcie Goodman Collins.
“We are talking here about a large parcel of forested land in fairly pristine and natural condition, far from existing town centers,” she said. “It remains to be seen if any development of this scale — regardless of whether it’s a campground, a major hotel or a some other type of larger scale resort complex — could be developed in a manner that is in line with Tahoe’s goals to protect our natural resources and help reach our regional goals and environmental standards.”
Meanwhile, Ann Nichols, president of the North Tahoe Preservation Alliance, is against the proposal.
“There is no reason to believe the campground won’t lead to more development,” she said. “… We need to protect our ridgelines from decimation.”
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She also pointed out the campground is adjacent to another proposed development by Mountainside Partners — the Martis Valley West Parcel project, which outlines 760 residential units be constructed in Martis Valley, west of Highway 267 and outside the Tahoe Basin.
“The cumulative impact of (the campground) being next to a huge new development could put thousands (of people) on the ridge,” Nichols said.
Riva said feedback received by Mountainside Partners on the campground proposal has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
“Like all proposed projects, this will be subject to a very thorough public review process, and based on initial response, we believe there will be a broad-based community support for Brockway Campground,” he said.
The proposal will be subject to a full environmental review by Placer County and TRPA, a process anticipated to take 12 to 18 months, Riva said.
Both agencies would have to approve the project before construction can begin.
“Knowing and understanding the sensitivities related to operating in the Tahoe Basin, we’ve given tremendous thought and consideration to every element of the Brockway Campground,” said planner Bud Surles, CEO of Bud Surles Consulting Group. “Important factors such as … how the design blends with the area and natural resources and what eco-friendly elements should be integrated in order for the campground to be sustainable have all been thought through and incorporated into the design plans.”
The campground will a “green” model, Surles said, by utilizing solar power, low-flow and automatic shut-off plumbing fixtures, gas fire pits, and LED lighting.
Shuttle services would be provided to and from nearby recreational and shopping locations to reduce vehicle trips once campground guests are on site.
Assuming approvals are given, the earliest work could start would be in summer 2017, with the campground opening in summer 2018, Riva said.
Meanwhile, Martis Valley West — which is being analyzed separately — is amid environmental review.
A draft Environmental Impact Report is anticipated to be released next month by Placer County for a 45-day public review and comment period, Riva said.
These projects were born out of an agreement among conservation groups Sierra Watch and Mountain Area Preservation, along with then-East West Partners and landowner Sierra Pacific Industries.
The deal, finalized in 2013, aims to protect 6,376 acres of land east of Highway 267 indefinitely, thus creating more than 50,000 continuous acres of open space between the valley and the Mt. Rose Wilderness Area.