Tahoe-area development: Martis Valley West vote likely Thursday | SierraSun.com

Tahoe-area development: Martis Valley West vote likely Thursday

Staff report
A look at the June 9 Placer County Planning Commission meeting, which was standing-room only. The Thursday, July 7, meeting in Kings Beach also featured a massive crowd.
Courtesy Mountain Area Preservation |

KINGS BEACH, Calif. — The Placer County Planning Commission is likely to vote Thursday on the controversial Martis Valley West development project.

The commission will meet for a special hearing at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, July 7, at the North Tahoe Event Center in Kings Beach. The discussion on Martis Valley West is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

According to the meeting’s agenda, the commission is being asked by staff to recommend the development project for approval to the Placer County Board of Supervisors.

On June 9, the commission first met in Tahoe City to review the final proposed project and hear from both the developers, Mountainside Partners, and residents and organizations before making a vote.

Roughly 250 residents attended that meeting, and more than 40 people offered public comment — all but one of whom voiced concern about the project and urged the commission to not approve it.

The commission eventually closed the public comment portion of the meeting; after much deliberation, commissioners opted to postpone a vote and continue the meeting in order for county staff to address the public’s concerns.

A major concern expressed on June 9 is that increased traffic on Highway 267 between Truckee and Lake Tahoe — and the potential for more gridlock — will equate to a nightmare scenario in the event of a wildfire or other mass evacuation scenarios.

Lake Tahoe water quality, regional environmental, noise and visual impacts, wildlife concerns, and many other issues were expressed during the June 9 meeting, and have since been bemoaned in letters to the editor and various social media forums.

“Projects planned for the edges of the Tahoe Basin aimed at Tahoe visitors and second-home buyers will deeply impact the Lake,” Darcie Goodman Collins, PhD, executive director for the League to Save Lake Tahoe, said in a statement to the Sun. “Developers are offering no solutions to what they admit will be huge traffic impacts at Tahoe.”

Collins’s statement was accompanied by an over-arching message from the League that criticizes the Martis Valley West project — as well as the separately proposed Village at Squaw Valley development project that’s on a different timeline for potential approval.

“Traffic congestion at Lake Tahoe and the associated pollution due to projects being developed just outside the Tahoe Basin present a critical threat to Lake Tahoe clarity,” according to the League’s statement.

THE PROJECt, AND RECENT HISTORY

The proposed project consists of a “Specific Plan” and various associated entitlements and approvals.

The Martis Valley West Specific Plan area consists of two separate components, the East and West Parcels, which are located on either side of Highway 267.

The West Parcel is approximately 1,052 acres, located next to Northstar California, west of Highway 267. The East Parcel is approximately 6,376 acres, 670 acres of which are zoned for residential and commercial development under the Martis Valley Community Plan.

Under the proposed project, 662 acres of the West Parcel are proposed to be rezoned from “Timberland Production” to “Residential and Neighborhood Commercial,” allowing for the development of up to 760 residential units and 6.6 acres of commercial uses for homeowner amenities, small community retail and similar uses.

The remaining 390 acres on the West Parcel would remain designated “Forest,” of which 65 acres would be used as a utility corridor and an additional portion used for an emergency access road and other services/utilities if needed. As a result, no development would occur on the East Parcel.

The project’s final Environmental Impact Report was released May 3; nine days later, the North Tahoe Regional Municipal Advisory Council met in Tahoe City for its monthly meeting, and was scheduled to consider the project.

After hearing several residents and environmental organizations speak against the project, the North Tahoe MAC voted 5-1 to recommend the Planning Commission postpone action for 30 days to allow for concerns to be addressed.

That brought the project to the June 9 meeting, where no vote occurred, leading to this Thursday’s hearing (July 7). According to that agenda, additional public comment is not scheduled, considering that section of the meeting was closed on June 9.

However, it will be up to the commission to re-open public comment if it chooses.

Should the Planning Commission OK the project, the County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing before making the final ruling, likely this summer.

Visit bit.ly/1WncDUL to download Thursday’s agenda and to learn more.