My Turn: North Shore becomes South Shore
Unhappily the jewel of the Sierra has become an economic opportunity. Apparently, Washoe County and the TRPA have decided that we are suffering from is a lack of “hotel/condo/timeshare/fractional thingies,” an apt phrase coined by local journalist Andrew Pridgen. The Bonanza newspaper has also decided it was time to come forward with its written approval. Most of the public I speak with ” the Friends of Crystal Bay/Brockway, the League to Save Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Club ” are terribly concerned.
Boulder Bay LLC is proposing a project on the site of the Biltmore Casino and former Tahoe Mariner site that will change the landscape of North Shore forever. The developers have proposed adding a new page to the code of ordinances of the North Stateline Community Plan. These changes are taken from the existing South Shore Plan zoning. The Special Height Ordinance will allow height that is 25 percent below the existing tree canopy based on visual simulations from appropriate scenic units… whatever that means. All I know is the few trees that are on the site are tall. Part of Boulder Bay’s proposal is to remove 222 trees. This ordinance has a tag on it that will increase the current allowed density by a factor of three. The allowed 40 hotel units per acre without kitchens will jump to 120 units/acre. Fifteen units per acre with kitchens will multiply to 45 units. Currently timeshares with kitchens are not an allowed use in the North Stateline Community Plan. Boulder Bay also requests an expanded definition of timeshare use which will allow a density multiplier of 2.5.
Here is the kicker… although these changes will apply to the properties in the North Stateline Community Plan that are above Highway 28, potentially there will be a dangerous precedent with this spot zoning for other properties in the community plan. We have asked TRPA whether the expanded timeshare density request is only north of Highway 28 also… no response from the experts as yet. The North Stateline Community Plan includes the Tahoe Inn property which is currently owned by the developers of Homewood. We assume they could build timeshares with a density multiplier of 2.5. The Boulder Bay project proposes 421 units in 11 structures comprising 875,000 sq.ft. of build out with structures ranging in height from 55 to 85 feet high. There will be up to four stories of underground parking. The resident population will be approximately 1,067 and the on site total also considering the units, casino, spa and retail is about 2,448 people per the developer’s own numbers. The impact on our environment, local infrastructure, local and Incline recreational amenities will be significant. Timeshare/fractional use has a higher occupancy rate.
The community appreciates the generous donations by Roger Wittenberg this year. But that largesse is no justification for rewriting the TRPA rule book that we’ve all come to rely on.
Our economy may ultimately suffer if we resemble South Shore. The appeal of our relaxed rustic community will be gone. A lot of us love the Biltmore architecture which is reminiscent of an early stage of Crystal Bay history. We also object to the Bonanza’s characterization of Crystal Bay as being in dire need of redevelopment. The Crystal Bay Club, the Soule Domain, the Coyote Building, the Nugget, the old Brew Pub, Stillwater Cove and Crystal View Condos are all unique charming properties.
The community is trying desperately to keep up with all the complicated changes being proposed. Some claim this is early in the development process … don’t worry. But in reality we are standing on the precipice. Some our public right of ways were almost lost in June. Any environmental concerns must be delivered to the TRPA in writing by September 2. Time is running out.