West Shore community desires better – not bigger – redevelopment | SierraSun.com

West Shore community desires better – not bigger – redevelopment

The West Shore of Lake Tahoe is at a critical juncture with the final decision on the Homewood Mountain Resort (HMR) development expected at the upcoming TRPA meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 14. There have been numerous and extensive comments on the proposed Homewood Mountain Resort project from residents of the West Shore, basin-wide conservation organizations, national organizations and others. Thus far, during the Environmental Review process, over 2,000 surveys, petitions and letters have been sent directly to Placer County and TRPA from residents and other supporters of Friends of the West Shore (FOWS).

FOWS, a grassroots conservation community organization, has heard the voices of the West Shore residents and the need for a significant downsize of the project to reduce the impacts. We believe if the community had been involved in development of the Master Plan, there would be a much different Ski Area Master Plan. TRPA Code of Ordinances, Chapter 16, discusses Master Plans: 16.7.A.2 states, “A steering committee shall be formed representing community interests …”, “The steering committee shall establish a planning team to prepare the master plan.”

HMR’s master plan was already prepared when this project was submitted.

Another major issue is sustainability. The HMR Project is too large and will create negative impact to our natural resources. The environmental sustainability factors include water, energy, air and climate, lake, and forest ecosystems. HMR is a water-intensive project, with the addition of 1,600 people, several swimming pools and, in particular, additional snowmaking, which will require an enormous increase in the amount of water, from 23.8 to 102.3 acres of ski trails. The sources and supply of water need to be available long term. Electricity is also required to run the ski operations, but HMR fails to specify the source of renewable energy.

Placer County and TRPA recognize that the magnitude of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the project would have a significant cumulative impact on the environment. As stated in the Placer County agenda, “The project will contribute to global GHG emissions and global climate change.”

This is due primarily to increased traffic, emissions from project construction, heavy equipment, refrigeration and air conditioning units, electricity and natural gas usage, water consumption, and wastewater treatment. The interruption of groundwater flow is significant and unavoidable. The ecosystem cannot survive the impacts from this project.

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Friends of the West Shore, the League to Save Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Area Sierra Club have proposed a 33 percent reduction in the size of the project, which we feel is a reasonable alternative to develop the area. The community deserves a balance between the need to upgrade the ski facility and preservation of the environment. The natural beauty of the West Shore should not be sacrificed for a project that will be detrimental to its unique environment.

The concerns mentioned and the need for environmental sustainability require a decrease in the size and scale of this project. Otherwise, this project, as currently proposed, will have a major irreversible effect on the rural mountain character of the West Shore and will set a perilous precedent for the Regional Plan and future basin-wide projects.

– Susan R. Gearhart, President, Friends of the West Shore