Homewood Mountain Resort (HMR) Ski Area Master Plan

 

March 2017:

FOWS has been in contact with the North Tahoe Fire Protection District (NTFPD) regarding the Homewood Evacuation Plan and will bring you updates regarding upcoming public meetings and other opportunities to learn about the plan.

December 2016:

No public hearing has been scheduled regarding the new Evacuation Plan for the Homewood Village Resort released in September.

September 2016:

Per the recent Settlement Agreement between Homewood Village Resort (HVR) and the California Clean Energy Committee, HVR was required to work with the North Tahoe Fire Protection District (NTFPD) to prepare the “Homewood Evacuation and Life Safety Report” and schedule at least one public meeting to discuss it. The Clean Energy Committee received the report at the end of September (available here). No date for the public meeting has been provided.

December 2015:

On 12/22 a legal ruling from the Court of Appeals of California, Third District regarding the Clean Energy Committee’s (CEC) challenge of the Homewood Village Resort’s environmental impact report (EIR) was released.* While the Court did not agree with all claims, one of the most notable outcomes is the Court’s decision regarding emergency evacuation: “There are two components to the wildfire evacuation risk – evacuation by residents, workers, and visitors, and the impact of that evacuation on access by emergency entities responding to wildfire. The EIR fails to evaluate both.”

The Court also stated: “…evacuation [of people from the project area] could also impact the environment by impeding emergency responders who might otherwise be able to prevent the spread of wildfire,” and the EIR also “failed to identify the capacity of SR 89 or connecting roads to accommodate the evacuation of people, including additional people from the project.

The CEC noted that analyzing this impact must involve the evaluation of “the total number of residents, businesses and tourists that can be safely evacuated from the West Shore, without impeding emergency vehicle access, in the event of wildfire, earthquake or seiche and evaluate the cumulative impact of the project on natural disaster evacuation and emergency vehicle access to the West Shore.” The Court also pointed out that while the EIR concluded significant and unavoidable impacts to congestion on SR 89, the EIR “inexplicably” did not conclude those “same inadequate roads to be a significant, unavoidable impact in the context of a wildfire requiring emergency evacuation.

The Court directed Placer County to comply with CEQA, which will require addressing the failure to identify, describe, and analyze the wildfire evacuation risk. As of late December 2015, the developers had not yet decided their next course of action. FOWS will keep you updated on opportunities to engage on this topic.

* The ruling notes it is “not to be published.” This means it cannot be cited by other legal documents; however, the ruling is public information.

 

May 2015:

According to JMA Ventures, the owners of Homewood Mountain Resort, the project’s construction has been delayed until 2016 due to the unresolved lawsuit filed by the California Clean Energy Committee.

 

December 2014:

The Forest Service recently solicited comments on a proposal submitted by Homewood Mountain Resort to offer guided snowcat skiing/snowboarding tours in the Ellis Peak area during the winter of 2014-2015. The proposed area of use is identified in the current Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) Snowmobile Guide as open for motorized use.

The guided snow cat tours will begin on private land within Homewood Mountain Resort near the top of the Old Homewood Express lift. From that location, a snow cat with a passenger cabin will transport 10-12 participants along a southwesterly route, across National Forest System lands into the Ellis Peak area. Participants and guides will ski from the designated drop-off point back to Homewood Mountain Resort via existing open glades, bowls, and treed terrain. Homewood Mountain Resort hopes to provide roughly 6-8 trips per day, 3 days per week, depending on weather and snow conditions. The Forest Service intends to issue a temporary special use permit, and evaluate the operation to determine the viability and appropriateness of the use for future seasons.

See scoping information and map: 10/17/2014
Read FOWS Comments on scoping: 10/31/2014
Read USFS Scoping Summary Report/Response to Comments: 12/29/2014

 

January 2014:

After years of effort and the continued support of our members and friends, we have reached a settlement with JMA Ventures, the developer for the Homewood Mountain Resort expansion project, for a modified project which will reduce the impacts of the resort’s expansion.

Some of the highlights of our efforts include the following project modifications:

  • A total reduction of 13 new units compared to the larger project approved in 2011 (including 7 units on the gravel parking lot aka the “Fawn Parcel”)
  • Restoration of sensitive areas of the Fawn Parcel to a naturally-functioning stream environment zone
  • The retirement of an additional 44,000 square feet of coverage, in addition to the 178,000 sq. ft. of coverage already required, benefiting water quality and the health of our forest soils
  • At least 20 years of extensive traffic monitoring after the first Phase of the project is constructed
  • Agreements which will reduce the extent of future development allowed both at the base and on the mountain, and which protect the natural areas on the mountain from more intensive and polluting recreational uses into the future.

FOWS graciously thanks the hard work of countless community members and volunteers who supported our efforts to protect our community and environment. We encourage you to read the press release for more information, and we will keep you updated as we proceed with our efforts to monitor and participate in the resort’s construction and implementation.

 

February 2013:

In January, U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb rejected the claims of HMR’s developer, JMA, that it would lose money if it reduced the size of the planned resort. He noted that the combined Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Impact Statement (EIR-EIS) inexplicably failed to consider all streams of income, including condominium and hotel revenues. “The EIR-EIS misleads the public by suggesting that [ski lift] ticket sales revenue is the only relevant factor in assessing the financial viability of Homewood…” the judge wrote. He ruled that no construction could begin until a “legally adequate” EIR-EIS that properly considered a scaled-down project had been prepared and circulated. A recirculation would provide a 60 day comment period for us to raise our thoughts and questions. Read the Press Release.

FOWS and other community members have also been extremely concerned with the increases in summer traffic congestion that would result from the project.

 

January 2012:

Friends of the West Shore and the Tahoe Area Sierra Club recently acted to take up unsettled issues over the newly approved Homewood Mountain Resort project to the US District of Eastern California. Earthjustice filed the lawsuit against TRPA and the Homewood developers. Placer County is also named in the suit for violating the California Environmental Quality Act. Earthjustice attorneys are representing both groups.

 

April 2011:

View these comments and analysis provided by professional consultants and experts who have reviewed the Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (“DEIS”) with Friends of the West Shore.

  • Matt Hagemann, P.G., Ch.G. – Hydro-geologist
    SWAPE Technical Consultation, Data Analysis and Litigation Support for the Environment

 

2006 – 2008:

In the February of 2008 HMR was encouraged by TRPA Governing Board to continue their application to develop a site plan. HMR submitted their plan in May of 2008 and in the summer the Notice for Public Scoping was held both at the TRPA Governing Board meeting and a Placer County meeting. There was great public participation. The Notice of Preparation was completed in September of 2008 by Placer County & TRPA and address details of the plan and the Initial Study was released.

FOWS Concerns with the Project:

  • This Project will severely impact the scenic views that we all cherish on the West Shore.
  • The Project proposes three amendments to height, groundwater and the Planned Area Statements (PAS)
  • Amendments to PAS 158- zoning will change from single family dwelling to multi-residential.
  • The project should be a redevelopment only, no new development on vacant land should be allowed, especially outside of the urban boundaries into the recreational ski area.
  • The Traffic Study in the DEIS is flawed and not supported by substantial evidence. Traffic is not measured during peak summer periods and incorrectly assumes that tourists at the resort will not drive to other destinations during the summer period.
  • Construction traffic- the DEIS states “trucks removing excavation material will generate up to approximately 146-192 trips per day” (See DEIS, p. 11-81).
  • Traffic congestion will be exacerbated in the back up from Tahoe City during the summer and cannot be mitigated. The proposed project will add about 8,431 Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) every day during the summer.
  • Project fails to articulate a plan to achieve its stated goal of eliminating parking on Highway 89.
  • Flawed Draft Environmental Impact Report/ Statement – does not include essential information on land coverage, traffic, building sq. footage, and other information needed to analyze the resulting environmental impacts.
  • FOWS has requested Story Poles to visualize the impacts of this development. The proposed building heights are inconsistent with the surrounding community and its character. We feel that the community deserves to have a visualization of the mass and size of the project, especially with the proposed height amendment to allow for building heights up to 77 feet. (See DEIS, p. 10-29)
  • The project proposed requires a ten year construction phase – The DEIS states “HMR anticipates a ten (10) year time frame for the build out of the Ski Area Master Plan” (See DEIS, 3-47 and Appendix N “Construction Schedule.”)
  • 697 Bedrooms (this does not include townhomes)- If one assumes that there are two guests per bedroom this makes the total number of guests during peak times to be approx. 1400-1500.  This is TOO many people at one time for such a small community. (See DEIS, Appendix K-3).
  • The omission of an adequate emergency evacuation plan to address the increased number of visitors trying to flee in their cars in the event of a major fire or other emergency situation.
  • Proposed project does not meet the Regional Plan’s Water Supply Assurance Requirement. The “Water Supply Assessment” does not identify sufficient water supplies for the project.

What can I do?

The most robust way to get involved is to do so during the Public Comment period for the Draft EIR/EIS and the Final EIR/EIS.  We will use our newsletter to communicate upcoming events. Our objective is to keep everyone involved and engaged.  What is important, is that you need to know quickly and easily how to get involved. Every resident on the West Shore should understand this project and make it part of a development plan which becomes a “Quality Plan” for the future of the West Shore.

FOWS was an active participant in the Draft EIS/EIR phase.

  • Your letters written to Placer County Board of Supervisors and to TRPA Governing Board are extremely valuable.
  • Your attendance at both Placer County and TRPA speaks volumes to decision makers!
  • We will share with you our experts’ remarks and from the community of Lake Tahoe. FOWS will take the lead in keeping you informed.
  • We need to hear from you! What are your concerns? What can we do to help you with this HMR development plan and the Draft EIS/EIR process?
  • Finally, you can to continue to support us and keep in touch.

 

How did this expansion gain momentum from the outset?

HMR was approved to continue their pre-application within the TRPA Community Enhancement Program in November 2007. This allowed HMR to become a Demonstration/Special Projects under the Code Section in the TRPA Compact. However, due to the fact Special Projects must be located within a Community Plan, TRPA Governing Board amended the Code to include Master Ski Plans for HMR. HMR is one of nine CEP projects voted to move forward with their application, six are in Placer County

What criteria must HMR follow as a Community Enhancement Program (CEP)?

The Community Enhancement Program is to implement projects that demonstrate substantial environmental, as well as, social and economic benefits through mixed-use development projects on existing disturbed and or underutilized sites, not undisturbed lands.

The CEP is intended to inform the Lake Tahoe Regional Plan Update. TRPA expects to learn how to encourage “net gain” results from proposed community reinvestment and redevelopment activities.

What are the Special Project Goals and Objectives for Environmental Improvements?

To mention just a few:

  • Provide area-wide urban water quality improvements.
  • Provide a reduction in overall land coverage.
  • Ensure compatible land uses that minimize noise.
  • Protect and enhance existing cultural/historic resources.
  • Restore and/or protect native vegetation to reduce erosion potential and promote wildlife benefits
  • Enhance visual quality of and views from scenic roadway units, shoreline units and resource areas. Increase/enhance view sheds from these areas to Lake Tahoe.