Homewood redevelopment: Community, business support growing

By Jenny
Goldsmith

Special to the Sun

 

 

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — More than 100
community members gathered Tuesday at a Placer County Board of Supervisors
meeting with one critical mission: to address the pros and cons of the proposed
Homewood Mountain Resort redevelopment.

In what was regarded as “one of the most civil and thoughtful comment periods”
Board Chairman Robert Weygandt had ever seen, the meeting showed the majority
of the community is in support of the project. Audience members at the
Granlibakken Resort ranged from West
Shore homeowners to Tahoe
City Public Utility District representatives, construction workers to clean
energy advocates and small-business owners to Tahoe-area resort general
managers.

Out of the nearly 40 community members who voiced their opinion at Tuesday’s
meeting, more than two-thirds supported the project, citing economic
stimulation, enhanced recreation, revitalization to the West Shore
and potential loss of Homewood Mountain Resort as reasons to support the
much-needed facelift.

“The West Shore
was once a vibrant business and community-oriented area … that is now facing
the potential of losing Homewood Mountain Resort,” said Rob Weston, president
of the West Shore Association and full-time West Shore
homeowner. “It is reasonably estimated that once Homewood Mountain Resort is
complete, it will generate 180 jobs, millions of dollars in economic activity,
as well as 6 to 7 million dollars in annual tax revenues.”

Other West Shore homeowners and proponents stressed
the need for further recreation in the area to improve quality of life,
increase property value and further the transparency of the humble mountain
town.

“From Crystal Bay
to Tahoma and possibly beyond, we are experiencing insipid decay … this process
has only been exacerbated by the global economic situation,” said Tahoe Vista
resident, Tahoe Truckee Unified
School District trustee
and longtime local Randy Hill. “We need this development approved
environmentally, socially and economically.”

The TCPUD Board of Directors unanimously approved the project, and while some
community members expressed concerns over the water and sewage infrastructure,
General Manager Cindy Gustafson assured them the PUD are well-equipped for such
an expansion.

“Our sewer system is more than adequate to address needs of this project,”
Gustafson said. “New customers bring with it new opportunities to offset the
costs for our existing water and sewer customers to pay for improvements that
are so desperately needed.”

Those questioning the project include Friends of the West Shore,
the League to Save Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Area Sierra Club. Representatives
were present Tuesday, emphasizing concerns with the potential negative impact
such a large project would have on the environment of Lake
Tahoe.

“No one is asking to delay project or stop the project — we’re only asking to
downsize it, and yet we want to see the developer make his number,” said Ron
Grassi of the Sierra Club. “We’re not saying the developer is not well
intentioned … he is well intentioned and is trying to do a good project for us,
but it doesn’t have to be this large.”

Susan Gearhart, president of Friends of the West Shore,
said she is open to a reduced plan that would address deficiencies such as
noise impact, traffic congestion, water supply, lack of adequate parking and
earthquake risk management.

“A project size reduction would result in true win-win that compliments the Homewood community rather
than overwhelms it,” she said.

Project developers and representatives of JMA Ventures say they have already
reduced the project over the last five years of planning, and further cutbacks
will merely negate the foreseeable benefits.

“A smaller project won’t work because it will not generate sufficient skiers to
sustain the ski operation,” said Art Chapman, president of JMA Ventures, the
San Francisco-based company that owns Homewood.
“If this plan doesn’t come together, Homewood
will close. There is no alternative.”

 

By the numbers

A look at some of the figures
associated with the proposed redevelopment of Homewood Mountain Resort:

2014-17: North Base construction estimated to take place

2018-20: South Base construction estimated to take place

75: rooms in 5-star boutique hotel on North Base

15,000: square feet of retail space including a grocery and hardware store,
ice cream parlor and coffee shop

13: workforce housing apartments

56: residential condos

47: multi-family condos in a 3-story lodge

48: ski-in-ski-out chalets

180: new full-time positions

500: temporary jobs during construction

16-20 million dollars: estimated visitor spending on West Shore after
construction is complete

175 million dollars: estimated wages

6-7 million dollars: estimated yearly tax revenues

50: years Homewood has been open

 

What’s next

The Placer County Board of
Supervisors will reconvene on Dec. 6 in Auburn,
where they are expected to either approve or deny the proposed project. There
will be an allotted time during this meeting for members of the community to
re-address the board before they make their final decision.

Should the board approve it, it goes to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
governing board for potential final approval.

A proposed village for Homewood would include, among other things, an ice skating rink.

Rendering ourtesy of Homewood

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