My Turn: Reconsidering the Villas at Harborside
Were West and North Shore homeowners concerned about the Villas at Harborside, a timeshare development proposed in Homewood. This proposal by Nate Topol develops three lakeside lots with three homes on each lot for a total of nine homes (each with three bedrooms and three bathrooms). There would be four owners for each home (25 percent ownership each) totaling 36 owners. A fourth lot has been approved by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, with three buildings completed (one sold). For this property, the original 1995 settlement agreement with TRPA called for single-family residences with no timeshares mentioned. In 2003, without proper public notice and little publicity, TRPA approved the now-existing three timeshare homes on Lot 5. In 2005, without proper notice from Placer County, Mr. Topol proposed nine more timeshare homes on the remaining three parcels Lots 2, 3 and 4. Placer County continued its decision until TRPA could hear and act on the proposal. Were opposed to this development for several reasons, which include:1. 1995 Agreement The 1995 agreement should be the deciding agreement. The 2003 modification didnt provide proper notice to the Homewood community. Most of the property within 300 feet of the project was either owned by Mr. Topol or another commercial property. Thus, only a handful of homeowners received notice. And of those who did, most were confused about the rezoning since an incorrect assessors parcel number was noted. 2. Tourist Accommodation Units Justification for the timeshares is based on a one-bedroom tourist accommodation at the Homewood Marina Motel being equivalent/ transferred to a three-bedroom, three-bath home. This is illogical. Total bedrooms will increase from 9 to 27.3. Timeshares/ Density The Topol project would set a precedent on the West Shore (multiple homes/timeshares on one lot) and open the door for more timeshares and more density on the West Shore. The three lots are narrow (88 feet wide) and would each have three homes of about 1,800 square feet with adjacent parking. This would produce a density unique to the West Shore, not in keeping with the West Shore General Plan to maintain the scale and character of the West Shore.4. Traffic and Parking The new development will have a total of 27 bedrooms, versus the current nine, one-bedroom motel units. With the unit owners and guests, this will produce more traffic congestion. Even now, many boat trailers park on Highway 89 during the summer. If you think West Shore traffic to Tahoe City is already heavy in the summer, wait until these homes are built. Proposed parking is very compact with some tandem parking. 5. Environmental/Lack of EIR There is concern with environmental impact from potential new buoys and boats. In fact, placement of dozens of illegal buoys at High & Dry Marina has still not been resolved. These buoys interfere with one of the West Shores best waterski areas. The buoy field should be taken back to the 300-foot off-shore limit as set by state plans. An EIR hasnt been done and compliance with other TRPA mitigation requirements (scenic, traffic and environmental) hasnt occurred. These regulations are intended to improve the community and lake environment. Mr. Topol should be in compliance before going forward.6. Lake Access The scenic view of Lake Tahoe from the roadway will be severely impaired as will the village quality of Homewood. View corridors have been reduced from 20 feet to 15 feet. Public access to the lake will be minimal. Stairs providing access over the pier are underwater, except for periods of low lake levels. At high lake levels, its impossible to walk along the lakefront. Were concerned the Villas beachfront will end up being exclusionary and not easily available to the public, especially during times of high water.This development will negatively impact all of us. It will cause deterioration of the lake and congestion in the Homewood/West Shore area. We all need to preserve the beauty of Lake Tahoe for future generations. We cant let the ambiance of the lake be destroyed forever.Homewood Homeowners Association members were polled and 90 percent were against this development. TRPAs mission is clear: Their potential approval of this timeshare project fails the TRPA mandate. Were asking for public support to revert this development to its original intention to build single-family homes on the lots. Please send a letter of protest to the TRPA. TRPAs number is (775) 588-4547, or http://www.trpa.org and e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also e-mail a personal note to governing board members (their personal e-mail addresses are on the website) requesting a no vote on this development.Please attend the TRPA Governing Board hearing on Feb. 28 at 9:30 a.m. at the TRPA office, 128 Market St., Stateline, Nev. Check the TRPA website the night before to find out the exact time the Villas Project will be heard. Ron and Sally Grassi and Judi Tornese and Jerry Winters are part of a group called The Friends of the West Shore.