The deal with homes at Homewood | SierraSun.com

The deal with homes at Homewood

John Marin
My Turn

In response to an article that appeared in the Sierra Sun (“Bay Area group buys Homewood” June 8), staff has researched the issues associated with the Homewood Mountain Resort, including any entitlements that may exist to allow for the development of 23 single-family residences as reported by the media.

The legal creation of lots in the vicinity in and around Homewood Resort dates back to August 1889, with the initial recordation of the “Map of Lakeside” subdivision. Since that time, there have been additional subdivisions and re-subdivisions of the land that is now known as the Homewood Mountain Resort.

As shown on the current Assessor’s Parcel Maps (Book 97, Pages 06 and 13), there are several separately saleable parcels that make up the Homewood Resort property. However, the presence of a legally created, separately saleable parcel does not mean that each and every one of these parcels has development potential. The existing parcels that make up the Homewood Mountain Resort have existed in their current state since at least 1980.

Development of the property at the Homewood Mountain Resort is governed by the West Shore Area General Plan, adopted by the Placer County Board of Supervisors in October 1998. As set forth in that document, the General Plan land-use designation, as well as the zoning designation, for the Homewood Mountain Resort is “Recreation.”

In addition to services that support the existing downhill skiing facility, single-family residences are a conditionally permitted use on the property, subject to the approval of a conditional use permit by the planning commission including California Environmental Quality Act analysis. A review of county records concluded that no approvals have been granted for the development of one ” let alone 23 ” single-family residences on the property.

For a single-family residence to receive the necessary approvals from Placer County, as well as the required approvals by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, an extensive public review process would need to occur, including the preparation of the appropriate environmental documents. To date, Placer County has not “certified the approval of 23 separate lots” for development at the Homewood Mountain Resort, as was erroneously reported in the Sacramento Bee.

While there may be 23 (or more) legally created, separately saleable lots within the Homewood Mountain Resort property, none of these lots were approved for any development beyond the existing ski resort facilities.

While there are existing parcels that make up the Homewood Mountain Resort property, it would appear that, based upon current county development standards, as well as the development standards for TRPA, that the opportunity for the development of 23 single-family residences is quite limited.

As correctly stated in the Sacramento Bee editorial, and as any casual observation of the property will reveal, the site is “a steep hillside already disturbed by a ski resort.” Although staff has not conducted any formal analyses of the project site in preparing this correspondence, the information reviewed showed that the existing slopes on the site, as well as the extensive native vegetation, could severely limit ” and possibly preclude ” the development of any part of the mountain, save for the parking area closer to State Route 89.

Should development of the Homewood Mountain Resort be possible, any development proposal would be subject to the separate and independent reviews and approval by Placer County and the TRPA. At this time, the county has not received any formal application to initiate a master plan to review the potential impacts with environmental, scenic and, most importantly, begin the formal public hearing process.

Community participation is extremely important within this area to determine the direction of growth and potential development impacts, which the community has expressed at other public hearings on Westshore projects nearby such as the 64-acre Transit Facility and the Villas at Homewood, which is a nine-unit development.

Prior to the commencement of any review process, the property owner would need to secure development rights and receive an allocation (or multiple allocations) to allow for the development.

While the General Plan and zoning designations for the Homewood Mountain Resort conditionally allow for the development of single-family residences on the property, no such approvals have been granted by the county, nor have any applications been submitted for such an approval.

In regard to the existing ski hill operations, any changes or modifications would require a complete review including a ski area master plan to determine the potential impact caused by those changes.

The General Plan for this area requires public hearing and discretionary approval for a single-family residential unit and it may be the desire of the community not to allow this type of development. Significant expansion or alterations to the existing resort project (ski lift, parking lot, commercial area) will require CEQA review and a lengthy hearing process.

If we review other modifications and expansions on the west shore such as the U.S. Forest Service sponsored transit facility outside of Tahoe City, we are reminded that a lengthy public hearing process has taken years for project approval.

John Marin is the director of the Community Development Resource Agency, in charge of planning, building, engineering services and surveying. Contact John at jmarin@placer.ca.gov.