Sierra Sun editorial: Homewood renovation a good thing for Lake Tahoe

LAKE TAHOE and#8212; We urge the Placer County Board of Supervisors and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board to lend unanimous support to the proposed redevelopment of Homewood Mountain Resort, based on the environmental improvements and positive economic impacts planned for Lake Tahoe.

We feel the preferred alternative put forth by JMA Ventures and#8212; after a few revisions based on feedback from residents in the area and regional conservation groups and#8212; is a responsible redevelopment option that will help the region while also ensuring the ski resort loved by so many locals will continue to stay open.

Just about everyone, including those skeptical of the proposal, are on the same page: Homewood needs to stay open. If it were to close, an important piece of Lake Tahoeand#8217;s history would be lost, and the small, close-knit West Shore community would likely fade into a ghost town of uninhabited second homes and shuttered businesses. And that impact is only going to have a negative trickle-down effect on the communities of Tahoe City and Kings Beach.

This redevelopment is as much about revitalizing Homewood as it is the entire North Shore of Lake Tahoe. Weand#8217;ve said it before, and weand#8217;ll repeat it here: Love it or hate it, a robust, tourist-driven economy is key to the communities here thriving. As a tourist community, we are still in the depths of the Great Recession, evidenced by longtime local businesses closing their doors, a decline in median home prices and 2010 Census data showing a growing amount of vacant and second homes.

The economic benefits associated with a renovated Homewood Mountain Resort and#8212; coupled with the soon-to-be-constructed Kings Beach three-lane project and, eventually, the Tahoe Biltmore redevelopment by Boulder Bay and#8212; are what this region needs as it continues its uphill climb to a semblance of the sustainability it enjoyed before 2006.

Community and public agency support is there, evidenced by the turnout at the Nov. 15 Placer County hearing when more than two-thirds of the people who stood for public comment spoke in favor of the project, and unanimous approvals by the Placer County Planning Commission, North Tahoe Regional Advisory Council and TRPA Advisory Planning Commission.

Add all this to the planned capital improvements at the resort and#8212; with the installation of some high-speed lifts being at the forefront of what many locals say is desperately needed at Homewood and#8212; and you have the recipe for a responsible project that will benefit locals, tourists and the lake itself.

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