Ire over proposed Tahoe ridgeline development


This ridgeline located in Carnelian Bay is what East West wants to develop. 

This ridgeline located in Carnelian Bay is what East West wants to develop.

By Kathryn Reed

KINGS BEACH – Developing 112 acres of pristine ridgeline in Lake Tahoe is drawing the wrath of many North Lake Tahoe residents and environmental groups. Even the Placer County supervisor who represents the area has questions.

“I’m struggling with how the Lake Tahoe piece is consistent with the Regional Plan,” Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery said at the Oct. 21 board meeting. She asked for staff to explain it at a later date.

Paul Thompson with the Community Development Resource Agency on Tuesday gave supervisors an update on several Lake Tahoe projects. His request of the packed audience at the North Tahoe Events Center to not comment on the Martis Valley project was met with grumbles. He wanted comments to wait until the environmental documents are released.

Seven people voiced their outrage with the project, including representatives of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, Friends of the West Shore and the Mother Lode Chapter of the Sierra Club. Many at the meeting were wearing “Stop Martis Valley West” stickers.

East West Partners, which developed the Village at Northstar and Lake Tahoe Ritz-Carlton, is proposing to build housing on both sides of Highway 267 – some of which is in the basin and some in the Martis Valley.

martis valley

“The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s most recent Regional Plan update states that new and redevelopment should be concentrated in urban town centers – areas that already have services such as schools, hospitals, banks, retail stores, and so on, plus infrastructure such as roads, sewer, water, and utilities,” said Ellie Waller, who was speaking on behalf of several people at the meeting. “Building on undeveloped forest land miles from any services is in direct contradiction of the Regional Plan. The negative effects are far reaching and will impact everyone who lives, works, or visits, Lake Tahoe.”

Others repeated that sentiment; each time it was followed by applause.

County officials pointed out that anyone could propose any project.

The environmental documents are where concerns will be ferreted out. But many opponents believe it will be a waste of taxpayer money and staff time to go through the environmental impact statement and environmental impact report process when the project doesn’t meet Tahoe Regional Planning Agency rules.

Opponents plan to be at today’s TRPA meeting to speak out about the Martis Valley proposal during public comment.

East West wants to build 760 residential units in the form of single-family homes, townhomes, cabins and condominiums. More than 6½ acres would be used for commercial. To make this happen acreage between the east and west parcels needs to be rezoned.

That is what has people upset because it would mean building on what is now a forested ridge in Lake Tahoe. Opponents believe it would be precedent setting in a negative way.

The west parcel is approximately 1,185 acres adjacent to Northstar. The east parcel is approximately 6,376 acres, of which 660 acres are zoned for residential and commercial development.

Today, the east parcel can have 1,360 residential units and 6.6 acres of commercial. East West wants to rezone 775 acres of timberland production on the west parcel to allow for the development. The 660-acres of the east zoned for development would be rezoned forest.

The end result is for no development on the east side and 600 fewer residential units fewer than currently allowed.

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Comments (25)
  1. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    Another typical Tahoe developement. Someone with deep pockets buys up a piece of land. Then after being assured he can get it rezoned for residential / commercial use it’s just a matter of getting the TRPA and a few other agencies to sign off on it, (when they’re paid enough money!). Then its off to the races! Looking for a out of town contractor, getting more investors, and at the end of this race to build, rape the environment and build another unwanted project?
    Oh yeah, and then ask for public comment even though it’s already a done deal.
    At least, that’s how I see it. OLS

  2. tahoeadvocate says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    OLS- You’ve got it correct and it isn’t limited to the North end of the Lake.

  3. Susan says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    Thank goodness for such a great response and interest from the communities. You are so vital to this process and we have truly concerned people to thank for keeping this development from happening.

    Let’s see if Jennifer Montgomery keeps her promise of not attempting to destroy Lake Tahoe by over-developments. TRPA, well we have to see if Smart Growth is something they just talk about while allowing the opposite from sprawling Northstar into the Tahoe Basin so many homes on the ridge.

  4. B.C. says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    The TRPA is taking illegal bribes from developers? Please OLS, explain more on this subject.

  5. Ski gal says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    They wouldn’t even be able to propose this development if Liberty Utilities hadn’t got the ok to cut down 10,000 trees to put in a better power line. Ever wonder why this is the only utility they own in Ca? It’s all wrapped up together. Where have all the tree huggers gone?

  6. Arod says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    Meyers residents take notice!

  7. go figure says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    Ski gal, well most of the “tree huggers” I know are family people now, making a living to support their families and themselves into retirement, some are still in prision for taking their stand against the “machine” and some are still at it, hopeing to make a difference, still in the good fight.
    there are many local, regional and national environmental groups that will come forth to keep this project from coming to fruition. It will certainly be a big fight and there will be alot of “mud slinging”. The blog trolls who hate will be posting here so stay tuned…
    if you want to make a difference call a local group and volunteer, talk to the leaders, attend meetings and ask lots of questions, become informed so you can tell your friends and family why you believe what you believe. Write letters to the local papers, call the developers and ask them why they are doing what they are doing. Vote for change in the upcoming election.
    A person can make a difference if you believe you can

  8. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    Old Long Skis:

    I’m a 5th generation born Californian that was born in Palo Alto in the late 1940s, lived on the SF Bay Area Peninsula until I was about 50, and then moved to SLT (a place I visited for the first time when I was 4-years old). The Bay Area was a GREAT place to grow up and live when I was younger but then it got totally over populated and over built and it turned to s**t.

    I understand your frustration about what is happening in Tahoe because I too had where I’d been born and lived altered in to something that I never wanted. Unfortunately since land is finite, people will encroach, and because people want to make money, they will buy up that finite land and it often gets developed.

    What I’ve learned is that there’s no stopping over population and there’s no stopping development. But I figure Tahoe will remain small enough for me throughout the remainder of my life and that young people not knowing what anything was like when I was young won’t care about nor miss what I had.

    I’ve decided to let the young people determine for themselves what it is they want and let them take over fighting the battles, and I’m going to enjoy what life I’ve got left and not get overly stressed about the things I can’t change. At my age I’m beginning to think I’ve earned that.

    Take care OLS–and enjoy this day—I think you’ve earned that too.

    Spouse – 4-mer-usmc

  9. ljames says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    What ever happened to companies that ran ski resorts instead of ski areas being run by real estate development companies that have a resort as an amenity the way developers used to offer swimming pools and community centers. The irony I think is these companies see this as a hedge on drought – once homes are built and sold, they make money even if the ski area ends up being a bust. Same thing with other commercial developers in the Basin. They don’t need the development to e successful long term, they just need to find buyers and the rest of the town is left with the consequences.

    Communities have to fight proposed zoning changes tooth and nail. Reducing the number of units may sound like a give, but it is not just how many, but where. How can people gripe about the economy when companies still have this much money to throw around. And yes, why would agencies entertain a proposal and spend money dealing with it when it so clearly is in opposition to existing land use planning regs and guidelines. Try getting a special use permit from the Forest Service for some guided activity like hiking or for a fishing guide – they will tell you we wont even look at your application? Want to build a ski resort or a whole new town – no problem!

  10. J&B says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    The developer is proposing to use a special land use change that was slipped into the TRPA’s Regional Plan Update ‘package’ at the last minute (in other words, it was not part of the years-long public Plan update process), although it appears this project may have been negotiated without public involvement well before the public ever saw it.

    Add the recent EDC Planning Commission’s recommendation against requiring a legal public process for Meyers, and the Placer staffer’s request the public NOT speak on the ridgeline development yesterday…and it seems our powers-that-be aren’t interested in engaging the public they claim to represent.

    We can be apathetic and let them run over us, or we can stand up for our communities. But time is running out!

  11. Garry Bowen says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    Liberty Energy is a subsidiary of Calpeco, which in turn is a subsidiary of Algonquin, a Canadian multi-billion dollar energy company. . . who followed the dictates of other very large energy companies in being spooked by the onslaught of solar & the threat to their revenue streams ‘down-the-road’ (& coming on fast) in concocting a strategy like the one that succeeded in Tahoe: find a project big enough to increase the rates for everyone, as a way needs to be found to ensure the cash flow for X number of years (& satisfy stockholders)

    Combine that with NO mention of anything associated with green building or smart growth (although East/West has some background in those; although apparently not nearly enough), and you begin to see the true motivation of people who don’t respect the notion of a Regional Plan, “Updated” or otherwise. . .

    The only thing the “Update” apparently satisfied was TRPA’s bruised ego at being blamed for the economic downturn over decades which others contributed to by overly relying on the advent of corporate gaming. . . and, true to Northern Nevada generally, not diversifying the economy beyond maids, dealers, slot personnel & retail clerks, in the name of ‘economic development’, so everyone can jockey for position in pointing fingers at each other once again. . .

    Simply put, if the developments on the North Shore had been designed green & energy-efficient (as so many are these days), we would not be following this path, as it merely harkens back to a fear of ‘keeping the lights on’, & the powers-that-be bought into that instead. . .

    Tahoe has merely added another, deeper dimension to ‘green-washing’…

  12. margaret says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    this is so typical of TRPA smoke and mirrors in a plan consideration. the plan calls for ‘trading’ small lots or parcels of land scattered here and there for the large BLOCK of land on a ridgeline overlooking Lake Tahoe. There is no visual comparison for this ‘trade’ !! TRPA is once again considering a dangerous proposition for Lake Tahoe. TRPA

  13. margaret says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    TRPA has a SCENIC CORRIDOR

  14. Hikerchick says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    The opinions expressed here are warranted. I hope local condemnation of this plan translates into forceful action to stop it. If the League, the Sierra Club, Friends, etc organize to stop the plan then we should support them. Many times support is lost because someone disagrees with something an organization has done. but remember, these groups are our best bet for taking action against developers and the agencies. Otherwise it is left to small, informal groups to try to get together the money and expertise to fight such a proposal.

    If we can’t stop something like this then we really are in trouble.

  15. Slapshot says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    OLS “it’s just a matter of getting the TRPA and a few other agencies to sign off on it” you really don’t understand the development approval process in this basin. I am not for this development but the development process is way more complicated and expensive than your comments lead people to believe.

  16. A_Better_SLT says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    people… it has to go through review process. anyone can PROPOSE a project. and the developer pays for the environmental impact statements to get to review, not the government, including TRPA. This PROPOSED development does stink. I just hope you all show up to the actual meetings where they discuss this instead of just leaving comments on the paper website. Your comments at public meetings WILL make a difference.

  17. Hikerchick says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    When is the last time TRPA has turned down any development–especially one with big name, big money developers behind it? The game of developers overstating their desires and then TRPA scaling it down somewhat is what we can expect. I hope I’m wrong about this but check the records.

  18. go figure says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    Hikerchick, you are ao right! If I recall correctly the sierra club and league to save lake tahoe have been on the recieving end of hatred and venom being spewed by some of the same “monikers” now wanting their help to stop this really bad development. So many people want their cake and eat it too! I hope that the local groups will speak up and get support from these same people. If they knew what it takes to gather the info, write the letters and responses, go to the court hearings, please everyone, well maybe there would be more great full people out there.
    this type of development is exactly why the sierra club was against the new plan in the first place, but, oh the finger pointers…

  19. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    Slapshot, I wrote some responses to some comments about my take on developement here in Tahoe, but then the tech guy guy from ATT showed up to hook us up with a faster internet service, and the stuff I wrote? It all got erased!
    So in a nutshell I’ll say, Fix up what we already have and put a stop to these new expansive and expensive developements taking up beautifful land to be built upon for more homes and commercial centers. I say NO, to heck with them and lets keep Tahoe, Tahoe!
    I hope I did’nt ruffle anyones feathers! But , dagnabit, we gotta get these new projects either stopped or better controlled. Thank you, OLS

  20. CRaphel says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    OLS – you absolutely nailed it! The word “specious” comes to mind and it’s an exhausting undertaking to expose the speciousness. Hope there are strong passionate people up for the fight.

  21. Tahoe Local says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    Didn’t North star get an F on their environmental impact. The continuous development will and has forever changed Lake Tahoe. The utilities the roadways are already stretched beyond their means. The Wildlife and the Clarity of the Lake have paid the price for man’s over development. When WILL it be ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Slapshot says - Posted: October 22, 2014

    I think you have to separate new development and redevelopment within the community plans. In terms of new development like this proposed project will have a tough go of it. But development within the community plan area will continue to happen as long as they meet environmental and planning standards. This will be a benefit to the lake because as old infrastructure is replaced the new development will do a much better job of erosion control and sediment reductions. I mean at some point you have rebuild.

  23. Rideout Alum says - Posted: October 24, 2014

    This BS has been going on for nearly half a century. I recall the moratorium on building in the late ’70’s yet certain influential people would still get permits. It was so bad that one of my best friends dads resigned from the Board of the CTRPA because of the corruptness of certain other members. And he was a realtor! OLS, you are not far off.

    Signed,
    LTSC Alum
    US Olympic Development Team Alum (alpine skiing)

  24. Sally H. says - Posted: October 25, 2014

    Tahoe is now nothing better than a construction zone. It used to be a quiet pristine place where one could enjoy the peace and the beauty of nature. Instead every morning I wake to the noise of the “back-up beeps” of work trucks, hammers, saws, heavy machinery. I understand the importance of job creation in the area, but the noise of development and maintenance just saddens and frustrates me.