Tahoe’s Homewood redevelopment: Support outweighs concern during round 1 of public comment
KINGS BEACH, Calif. and#8212; Regional support for Homewood Ski Resort’s proposed multi-million dollar redevelopment appears to be widespread, despite a passionate group of residents and conservationists who say the project will forever alter the West Shore of Lake Tahoe.
About 100 people attended the Wednesday, Feb. 23, meeting of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency governing board and listened to a presentation about the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement and#8212; a document which analyzes the environmental consequences of carrying out the proposed redevelopment.
Afterward, 32 members of the public gave impassioned testimony regarding JMA Ventures’ preferred alternative, which calls for the comprehensive overhaul of the North Base and South Base areas of the resort as well as the installation of a Mid-Mountain Lodge. In all, 19 voiced support for the project and 13 expressed concern or outright opposition.
Supporters said the project is an ideal embodiment of TRPA’s Community Enhancement Program and#8212; which offers incentives for developers such as additional tourist accommodation units or commercial floorspace in exchange for environmentally conscious development that directly leads to ecological improvement and#8212; that will ensure an economically sustainable future for West Shore residents and businesses.
Resident Randy Hill said he is and#8220;enthusiastically in supportand#8221; of the project, saying the resort currently represents the and#8220;epitome of decay and deteriorationand#8221; that is widespread throughout the human environment of the Lake Tahoe Basin.
and#8220;We have to be careful we don’t love this place to death,and#8221; he said. and#8220;We all want environmental purity, but economic vitality is essential to achieving some of the environmental improvements we all want to see happen.and#8221;
Resident Roger Kahn agreed, saying many of the buildings throughout the basin and#8220;are the same as they are 35 years ago.and#8221;
and#8220;This area needs revitalization,and#8221; he said.
Steve Noll, a Tahoe-based landscape architect, said federal money is drying up and fiscal problems of local and state governments indicate public dollars to support environmental projects will be hard to secure.
and#8220;We need to start looking at other venues, and the private sector is one of those venues,and#8221; he said.
Kay Williams, a resident a business owner, said the economic boost the project would bring in the form of temporary construction work and long-term, resort-based jobs is direly needed.
and#8220;This area needs economic stabilization,and#8221; she said. and#8220;The 200 jobs this project will create produces a ripple effect and equate to families, which equates to schoolteachers, firefighters and other jobs.and#8221;
Rob Weston, a resident and business owner, said JMA has already conducted extensive land restoration efforts that will reduce the amount of sediment reaching the lake.
and#8220;(Many in opposition to the project) are out of touch with the impact of losing a significant resource like Homewood,and#8221; said Weston, referring to JMA’s threat to close Homewood if it is not allowed to redevelop, citing a lack of profitability under current operating conditions.
Dave Ferrari, a resident and business owner in the basin, said and#8220;there is a cost to doing nothing.and#8221;
TRPA Spokesman Jeff Cowen agreed.
and#8220;The reality at Tahoe is that the status quo and leaving rundown development in place will not reverse the clarity loss the lake has suffered,and#8221; Cowen said.
Many residents in proximity to the project argued its scale will impact the quiet serenity that attracted many of the residents to the West Shore in the first place.
and#8220;This project is way too big,and#8221; said resident Marion Burrows, and#8220;It will destroy the quiet community feeling of Homewood.and#8221;
Burrows noted that Homewood is the only ski resort in the area to be constructed adjacent to a neighborhood and in proximity to the lake.
Burrows further worried over potential light pollution.
and#8220;If this development is approved, they will be using lights to perform construction through the night and we will lose our night sky,and#8221; she said. and#8220;Visitors are always amazed that you can actually see stars, and that won’t be the case.and#8221;
Dolores Flinn said she is concerned because her home is approximately 50 feet away from the proposed development.
and#8220;Put yourself in my shoes,and#8221; she told the board. and#8220;If a colossal building was being built just 50 feet from your house, how would you react?and#8221;
Mason Overstreet, an associate of Friends of the West Shore, said the buildings would have a detrimental impact on the scenic quality of the area.
and#8220;How does a 77-foot building next to State Route 89 enhance the scenic quality of the area?and#8221; he asked the board. and#8220;I am not opposed to the redevelopment of Homewood, but the size of this project, the height of some buildings are incompatible with the area.and#8221;
Judith Tornese, also with Friends of the West Shore, said the project will change Homewood and#8220;from a quiet village to an urban center.and#8221;
Laurel Ames, co-chair of the Tahoe Area Sierra Club, said the project will lead to more traffic, which in turn will negatively affect air quality.