Homewood cleans up forest | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Homewood cleans up forest

Chippers purr and workers bustle among the trees at a West Shore ski area. This is not your typical ski-lift building and prepping for snow that ski resorts undertake during the summer. At Homewood Mountain Resort, chipper crews are steadily clearing the 1,260-acre mountain of dead and dying wood and small trees. It’s a project that has taken a lot of work and an estimated $250,000 alone this year. Part of the price tag includes the cost of two state-of-the-art chippers, one of which runs on rubberized tracks and is remote-controlled. The radio-controlled chipper can navigate between trees in the forest, allowing workers to clear otherwise inaccessible portions of the mountain. The work will protect Homewood, the West Shore communities and Lake Tahoe from a possible catastrophic wildfire, says Rick Brown, vice president of JMA Sierra Ventures, the owner of Homewood Mountain Resort. Neighboring property, littered with dead and dying limbs and thickly wooded, is “the tinder box you keep writing about and hearing about,” said Brown. “We want to get that threat of catastrophic fire out of the way,” said Brown. “Our neighbors need that.” And the resort also needs that, Brown added. If a catastrophic wildfire hit the ski resort, “it would be over” for Homewood as a business, said Brown. “You can see the economic impact that South Lake Tahoe fire has created and you don’t want that,” he said. The work also has other benefits: Opening up tree skiing at the resort, said Brown. The resort is also working to revegetate old roads that are no longer needed and place wood chips and ground brush on the hillsides to prevent erosion. Alpine Meadows sale to close soon The pending sale of Alpine Meadows ski resort to Homewood Mountain Resort owner JMA Ventures is expected to be finalized this month, JMA Ventures President Art Chapman told the Sierra Sun earlier this year. Alpine Meadows owner Powdr Corp. struck a tentative agreement with JMA Ventures in April to sell the ski resort. Between April and June, JMA Ventures reviewed the resort’s records and agreed to finalize the purchase, according to Chapman. Chapman said his plan for the resort is to “to bring it back as a destination for locals.” Boosting customer service, adding entertainment and upgrading the property are all part of that plan, he said. “We hope to make some changes,” said Chapman. “We don’t have time for a major re-work [before the 2007-08 winter season].” Chapman said he was meeting with Alpine Meadows employees on Wednesday. As for the ticket prices and season pass prices for next season, Chapman said that has not been determined. The resort will consider offering a single pass that would give skiers and snowboarders access to both Homewood and Alpine Meadows, said Chapman.

Enviro groups diverge on west shore redevelopment project

KINGS BEACH, Calif. – As the lengthy public review process regarding redevelopment plans for Homewood Ski Resort trudges forward, two of the larger vocal environmental watchdog groups in the region are offering divergent opinions. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency governing board will publicly review the Draft Environmental Impact Review for the multi-million dollar overhaul of the West Shore ski resort during Wednesday’s regular meeting at the North Tahoe Event Center in Kings Beach. The item is time certain to begin at 10:30 a.m., and it will feature a public comment section. The project applicant, JMA Ventures – a San Francisco-based real estate firm – favors a construction blueprint that calls for redevelopment of the mixed-use facilities in the resort’s North Base area, redevelopment of residential units in the South Base area and construction of a Mid-Mountain Lodge. Art Chapman, president of JMA Ventures, said the ecological improvements of a completed project would make Homewood “the most progressive environmental ski resort ever at Lake Tahoe.” However, the League to Save Lake Tahoe is not convinced the project’s pro-environment measures are sufficient. According to a press release, Carl Young, spokesman for the league, said the redevelopment will increase traffic and urbanize a portion of Tahoe known for its pristine natural beauty, while also requiring multiple TRPA code exemptions. Young said the environmental gains spelled out in the DEIS are not accompanied by assurances on behalf of the developer that the environmentally beneficial aspects of the project will be carried out. Ron Grassi, co-chair of the Tahoe Area Sierra Club – which has stood with the League to Save Lake Tahoe on many environmental issues, notably ongoing Shorezone legislation – is taking a different tack, calling the project “well-designed,” while saying the developers have “a good positive environmental attitude.” Grassi did express some reservations, saying the project is “very large for such a small town.” However, Grassi said Homewood’s ownership group has explained the resort will not be financially viable unless it is allowed to diversify and enhance its revenue streams. “If JMA is not allowed to redevelop, then somebody else will try and they may not try in such an environmentally sensitive manner,” Grassi said. Grassi said project applicants are installing robust water quality measures, including a water recapture system that will take run-off from developed areas and redirect the captured material into snow making operations. Furthermore, Grassi said the developers are attempting to offset traffic impacts by finishing a bike path along with installing other methods of “getting people out of their cars.” The project proposes 350 new hotel or residential units – a substantial increase for such a small and remote town, Young said. Communities on the West Shore are accessible only by a two-lane road that already experiences frequent traffic gridlock, he said. During winter, Highway 28 is often closed just past Homewood, leaving the only available travel route through already congested Tahoe City, Young said. “People come to Tahoe to escape traffic and to breathe clean mountain air,” Young said. “The TRPA must come up with a reliable plan to get people out of their cars and reduce air pollution before approving more large projects like the one proposed at Homewood.” JMA is proposing a 77-foot-tall lodge that defies current regulations, Young said. This five- to seven-story hotel would become the tallest building on Tahoe’s West Shore. When skiers or hikers along mountain ridges look down on the lake, they will also look down on this large lodge, he said. “Recreationists on the water and along beaches will see a large built structure that will only remind them of the urbanization they hoped to escape,” Young said. Young praised JMA for conducting restoration projects to many acres of dirt roads on the Homewood property – which were responsible for contributing runoff sediment to Lake Tahoe – but said his organization is still awaiting specific information relating to how much new development the project applicants are expecting to receive in exchange for these improvements. The public comment period for the Homewood DEIS began Jan. 21 and ends March 21. It can be accessed online at http://www.trpa.org. Comments can be faxed to 775-588-4527 or e-mailed to homewooddeiscomments@trpa.org.

Alpine Meadows owner agrees to sell

Powdr Corp. has agreed to sell Alpine Meadows ski resort to JMA Ventures, the owners of Homewood Mountain Resort, according to Alpine Meadows officials. The transaction is expected to be finalized in June, said Jody Churich, marketing director for Alpine Meadows, Boreal and Soda Springs ski resorts. The price of the sale has not been made public since Powdr Corp. is a private corporation. Park City Utah-based Powdr Corp. will still own Boreal and Soda Springs resorts on Donner Summit, and those resorts’ operation is expected to remain the same, said Churich. The company has owned Alpine Meadows since 1994. Churich would not disclose the company’s reason for selling the resort, but said it had nothing to do with a relatively dry winter or Powdr’s recent purchase of Killington and Pico resorts in Vermont. Powdr Corp. officials had no comment. The sale of the resort depends on the U.S. Forest Service approvals needed to operate the ski area, she said. Joanne Roubique, Truckee District Ranger for the Tahoe National Forest, said that Forest Service permits for ski resort operation are fairly routine if the new owners show they have the capacity to run a ski area. “Unless there is a problem that crops up, I don’t think that there will be an issue,” she said. The ranger district has not yet received an official request to transfer the permit for the ski resort, she said. Nearly all of the Alpine Meadows ski resort property is owned by the U.S. Forest Service. If completed, the sale will add to a growing list of Tahoe holdings for JMA Ventures, a company best known for their work in Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco. The San Francisco-based company owns Homewood Mountain Resort, the Tahoe Inn near Crystal Bay and is planning a high-end hotel and restaurant along the Truckee River in downtown Truckee. Bob Roberts, executive director of the California Ski Industry Association, said the sale is good for the industry. “I think this is really positive,” Roberts said. “JMA and Art Chapman are a real class act.” Chapman is president of JMA ventures. The purchase of Alpine Meadows makes sense for the Northern California company, which was eager to expand its Tahoe properties, Roberts said. “When they bought Homewood, it was pretty clear that this was just their opening shot,” he said. The company has ambitious plans to build a village at the base of the Homewood ski area. Those plans are still being designed, and have yet to be submitted to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. JMA Ventures In less than a year, JMA Ventures has become a major player in Tahoe and Truckee area. Since buying Homewood Mountain Resort in June of last year, the company has added the Tahoe Inn, a planned hotel along the Truckee River to their holding before closing in on Alpine Meadows ski resort. The company is headed by President Art Chapman, a Truckee resident. Chapman has spearheaded aggressive plans to build a village at Homewood, add underground parking at the resort and turn the Tahoe Inn into workforce housing. Chapman did not comment Tuesday on his plans for Alpine Meadows ski resort. Powdr Corp. Powdr Corp.’s holdings include Mt. Bachelor in Oregon, Park City in Utah and Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard resort. The company, run by John Cumming, recently agreed to purchase Killington and Pico ski resorts in Vermont from fading ski giant American Skiing Company.

Homewood resort launches plans for base development

The new owners of Homewood Mountain Resort have started planning for new ski lodges, restaurants, lodging, shops and employee housing at the ski resort on Lake Tahoe’s west shore. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency received a four-page letter from Homewood owner JMA Ventures following the Bay Area firm’s purchase of the resort in June. The July 7 letter initiates the process of creating a new master plan for the ski area, which occupies more than 1,000 acres in Homewood. The resort has no current master plan filed with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, since it has changed little since the creation of the agency, said Julie Regan, spokeswoman for the TRPA. The ski resort’s planning is expected to begin slowly, with the formation of a committee of neighbors and local agencies to comment on the plans, and the completion of environmental and traffic studies. “It’s not a fast process,” Regan said. “Any kind of master plan brings in a lot of stakeholders.” The master plan for the resort will also likely spur the creation of a community plan for Tahoe’s west shore, said TRPA representatives and Homewood owners. The planning agency currently does not have a community plan for the West Shore, Regan said. JMA Ventures has offered to pay for an extra Tahoe Regional Planning Agency staffer to speed along the development of the master plan for the resort, according to the letter. Previous plans The plans for development at the base of Homewood Mountain Resort are not new. The previous owners of the resort contracted with internationally known resort planner Ecosign to design a village at the base of the mountain. The firm came up with eight buildings of lodging and commercial development over a large underground parking structure, where the resort’s parking lot stands today. The design would accommodate 256 lodging units and 784 beds, according to the plans. JMA Ventures, the new owners, are using some of the background in that design to develop their plans for the mountain, although they said their plans may be different. They say they do not want to increase the size or capacity of the mountain, but plan on replacing lifts and adding new facilities at the mountain’s base, along Highway 89. “It is the intent of the owners of [Homewood] to operate a community, family oriented ski area with the addition of base facilities including a bed base to allow guests to come and stay for several days at a time,” said the letter to the TRPA, written by Gary Midkiff, a consultant to owners JMA Ventures. “… major elements of the plan will include ski lodges, restaurants, shopping and a mix of employee housing and hotel/interval ownership tourist accommodations.” Forest Service involvement The new owners still have hopes of selling much of the mountain to the U.S. Forest Service and leasing the slopes back for winter skiing. But that idea, which had been discussed with the Forest Service, came to a halt when U.S. Representative John Doolittle, R-Roseville, inserted language into the Department of Interior’s 2007 spending bill that specifically blocked the sale. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is currently in the U.S. Senate, according to Doolittle’s office. “We won’t have any idea what the bill looks like until it comes out of conference (committee),” said Laura Blackann, spokeswoman for Congressman Doolittle. Doolittle has said the federal government already owns enough land, and should have plans and funds to manage lands that they acquire. The conference committee, which reconciles the bills passed by the Senate and the House, forms the final bill that will be sent to President George Bush to be signed into law. Still the owners have continued discussing the idea with the Forest Service, according to the letter to the TRPA. JMA President Art Chapman said in June that Homewood is seeking $22 million from the state’s Burton-Santini act for the Homewood property, excluding the land adjacent to Highway 89. “JMA Ventures and the [U.S. Forest Service] are continuing discussions regarding the possible acquisition of a portion of the mountain to protect the watershed and environment, preserve the long term future operation of the ski resort, and overall recreation access by the public to the mountain and, at least equally important, support the economic viability of the resort,” said the letter, written by Gary Midkiff, a consultant to owners JMA Ventures. Doolittle’s’ office is still discussing the matter with the Forest Service, said Blackann. “Our office continues to be in contact with the Forest Service to find an agreeable and positive solution,” Blackann said. Homewood gears up for winter Despite all of the talk of change, Homewood appears to be planning ahead for the upcoming winter with little immediate changes. Season passes are on sale and ticket prices are being advertised. The resort has made headway on improving the filtration of runoff from their parking lot, which runs into Lake Tahoe, according to earlier statements by resort general manager Dave Achey. Other than that, Homewood patrons may only notice a few consultants completing traffic studies or environmental work for the planned changes.

Federal judge halts major Lake Tahoe ski resort expansion

HOMEWOOD, Calif. – Regional conservation groups are celebrating a federal judge’s ruling to send a proposed Sierra ski resort expansion back to the drawing board, a decision viewed by local government and the project’s developer as a minor roadblock in a years-long, multimillion-dollar effort to upgrade a major portion of land off Lake Tahoe’s West Shore. The public interest law firm Earthjustice – representing the Friends of the West Shore and Tahoe Area Sierra Club – filed the suit on Jan. 5, 2012, in the U.S. District Court of Eastern California against the Homewood Mountain Ski Area Master Plan, naming the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, JMA Ventures – the San Francisco-based company that owns Homewood – and Placer County as defendants. According to a Jan. 4, 2013, ruling from U.S. District Court Judge William B. Shubb, Placer County and TRPA improperly analyzed the possibility JMA could have proposed a smaller project upon eventually approving the $500 million plan in 2011. In his 114-page ruling, Shubb rejected JMA’s contention it would lose money if it reduced the size of the planned resort, noting that the combined Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Impact Statement 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. No construction can begin until a “legally adequate” EIR-EIS that considers a scaled-down project had been prepared and circulated, Shubb ruled. Friends of the West Shore and Tahoe Area Sierra Club hailed the ruling as “vindication of their efforts to protect the beauty and clarity of the scenic lake,” according to a Monday morning press release from Earthjustice. “This decision is yet another reminder that the agencies entrusted with protecting beautiful Lake Tahoe, which has already suffered so much from runaway development, must not continue to allow private gain at the Lake’s expense,” Wendy Park, an attorney with Earthjustice, said in a statement. In a late Monday afternoon statement issued through Glodow Nead Communication, a San Francisco-based public relations firm, JMA viewed Shubb’s ruling as mostly a success because he ruled in favor of JMA on “the vast majority” of various points of dispute. Specifically, the company pointed to the following items on which Shubb disagreed: • The plaintiffs argued the project was inconsistent with the TRPA Compact and did not comply with agency rules concerning land coverage. • The plaintiffs argued TRPA and Placer County had not done enough to address air quality in the region. • The plaintiffs argued the EIR-EIS had not done enough to analyze noise impacts during construction and from expanded snowmaking. • The plaintiffs argued the EIR-EIS should have analyzed more alternatives. “We are very appreciative of the detailed and comprehensive nature of Judge Shubb’s opinion and while we understand we will need to update a small component of the economic analysis provided to TRPA and the County, the Judge’s denial of all the other issues raised by the plaintiffs provides a clear roadmap for the Homewood project to move forward,” JMA Chairman Art Chapman said in a separate statement. TRPA took a similar stance on the lawsuit, according to a Monday evening press release, saying Shubb validated all of the agency’s environmental findings, remanding the project back to the agency for review “on one very limited issue.” “After a thorough review, the court affirmed all of the environmental approaches relied upon to improve ecosystem conditions in the Tahoe Basin,” TRPA Executive Director Joanne S. Marchetta said in a statement. “The court further affirmed using public-private partnerships to maximize threshold gain through environmental redevelopment.” On Dec. 14, 2011, the TRPA Governing Board unanimously approved the Homewood plan. The project includes construction of a 5-star hotel with up to 75 rooms, 56 residential condominiums, 47 multi-family condominiums, 48 ski-in ski-out chalets, 16 townhomes, 13 workforce housing apartments and 15,000 square feet of retail space, along with an additional 40 individually owned condos and 30 individually owned penthouse units. It also calls for a variety of major environmental upgrades and land use restorations to the West Shore resort’s footprint, and is the only mixed-use resort in the U.S., according to TRPA, designed to incorporate gold level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building certification for neighborhood development design standards. After filing their suit, the Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore referred to the project as “a wall-to-wall mass of buildings that climb 77 feet up the face of the Homewood ski slope” that doesn’t fit with the community, and doesn’t protect the lake. “Fortunately for the public, the judge agreed that the developer provided an incomplete financial picture of a smaller-sized and less harmful project, so that it was never given a fair chance,” Ron Grassi, a spokesman for the Sierra Club, said in a Monday morning statement. “Rather than relying simply on the developer’s paid consultant, the county and TRPA should have done their own independent analysis. A multi-million dollar development doesn’t have to be huge to be successful.” While a timeline of when the issue may be back before TRPA is unknown as of this writing, Chapman said the company’s goal remains to revitalize Homewood. “JMA looks forward to working with the County and TRPA to address Judge Shubb’s concern,” Chapman said. “The majority of the West Shore community supports the proposal and the County and TRPA both unanimously approved it after a near four year public process. “Judge Shubb’s ruling is important, and warrants attention; however, the ruling does nothing to undermine JMA’s resolve to redevelop Homewood into the charming, environmentally sensitive, viable project it has the potential to be.”

Lake Tahoe conservation groups file suit against Homewood renovation

HOMEWOOD, Calif. – Saying they had no other choice but to protect Lake Tahoe and preserve the communities that surround it, a pair of regional conservation groups filed a lawsuit Thursday against the recently adopted Homewood Mountain Resort renovation. The group Earthjustice – representing the Friends of the West Shore and Tahoe Area Sierra Club – filed the suit in the U.S. District Court of Eastern California, naming the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, JMA Ventures (the San Francisco-based company that owns Homewood) and Placer County as defendants. “Lake Tahoe is a national treasure that must be protected for future generations,” the groups said in a joint statement Thursday. “The Tahoe Area Sierra Club and the Friends of the West Shore regret that legal action is the only alternative now.” On Dec. 14, 2011, the TRPA Governing Board unanimously approved the Homewood Mountain Resort Ski Area Master Plan. The $500 million project includes construction of a 5-star hotel with up to 75 rooms, 56 residential condominiums, 47 multi-family condominiums, 48 ski-in ski-out chalets, 16 townhomes, 13 workforce housing apartments and 15,000 square feet of retail space, along with an additional 40 individually owned condos and 30 individually owned penthouse units. The Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore on Thursday referred to the project as “a wall-to-wall mass of buildings that climb 77 feet up the face of the Homewood ski slope” that doesn’t fit with the community, nor does it protect the lake. “We want a revitalized Homewood Ski Area, but the current project is simply too large,” said Mason Overstreet, conservation director of Friends of the West Shore. “A smaller resort in scale with the surrounding community would still bring in hundreds of jobs for residents and millions of dollars in revenue to the local area.” Phone calls Thursday afternoon to Homewood Spokeswoman Rachael Woods were not immediately returned for this story. According to the suit, the Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore seek an order vacating the Homewood Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Impact Study prepared jointly by TRPA and Placer County, and its accompanying findings, certifications and approvals. The environmental study and plan for the Homewood project took approximately four years to complete. “It’s unfortunate that this lawsuit could divide the community at a time when we need to work together more than ever,” said Joanne S. Marchetta, TRPA’s executive director, in a statement late Thursday. “TRPA continues to believe that lawsuits are not the best path to sustainability in the Tahoe Basin.” According to the lawsuit, the project violates numerous environmental and community development standards; the plaintiffs argue Placer County and TRPA ignored and/or changed existing rules to accommodate those issues. The Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore also argue that despite meeting over the past two years with JMA Ventures, project proponents and representatives of the agencies, few issues were resolved, including concerns of traffic congestion, air and water impacts, scenic and noise impacts and “the tsunami of condos and hotel rooms.” “We had no choice. We met with them to no avail,” said Laurel Ames, conservation co-chair of the Tahoe Area Sierra Club. “It was protect the lake and the basin and the community, or stand by and watch the damage erupt.”

Homewood hires Sierra Business Council to guide sustainable plan

The West Shore ski resort most known for its family-friendly slopes is working with local agencies to ensure environmental and community issues remain at the forefront of its business plan. Homewood Mountain Resort has hired the Sierra Business Council – a nonprofit working to secure the social, environmental and financial health of the Sierra Nevada – to develop a program to make the resort a leader in sustainable development. “Our bigger task that we’ve been assigned is really to organize and put together their sustainability program,” said Program Director Nikki Riley of the Sierra Business Council. “… We’ve been asked by JMA to make Homewood the greenest ski resort in the Western states.” Homewood to stay home-y JMA Ventures purchased Homewood Mountain Resort last June and, while plans for the development are still vague, the resort will initially build a modest development at the foot of the hill, said Rick Brown, the company’s vice president. The San Francisco-based company hopes to build a retail and lodging project and upgrade the ski lifts while keeping the mountain’s uncrowded local character. Development may include a market, hardware store, fractionally owned condominiums and child-care facilities, Brown said. “We’re looking at all the options, environmentally, to do this correctly from the onset,” said Brown. “… We have world-class consultants that we’re consulting with to do everything sustainable and green.” The business council will serve as a liaison between the resort and the public, and will host meetings to keep West Shore communities informed about the resort’s redevelopment plans. Community workshops will likely begin around August, Riley said, “to assure the citizens the levels of impact will be less than it is today.” Brown and JMA Ventures owner Art Chapman will begin meeting with Homewood-area homeowner associations by the end of the month, Brown said. “We’re going out to the community to do this outreach process to get feedback from them, then we’ll have a better idea of what direction this is heading,” Brown said. Keeping the slopes green Sierra Business Council is studying how the resort can become as sustainable as possible, Riley said. The nonprofit is investigating alternative energy options and talking about implementing a biomass facility. “Then we would be able to use that energy to offset our energy footprint within the resort,” said Riley. Further assessment is needed to determine whether solar, wind or hydro-powered energy sources would be the most effective, she said. The firm also is looking to provide employees with optimal health-care benefits, transportation options and affordable housing. “I know Homewood is on board to provide child care for their employees,” Riley said. Resort representatives say they are dedicated to preserving Homewood Mountain’s reputation as a family-owned and locally oriented resort. The ski hill will not be expanded and ticket sales will likely be capped, said Brown. “It’s less about the marketability and more about because it’s the right thing to do,” Riley added. “… We’re looking to lessen our impact and minimize the footprint that Homewood makes.” Resort plans are still in the earliest stages, she said, and the next step will be to include the community in conversations about the development. “Because we’re raising the bar so high there’s going to be a lot of back and forth [discussion], seeing what makes the most sense,” Riley said.

Big rains test erosion project

HOMEWOOD – As Michael Hogan walks down a ski run at Homewood Mountain Resort, he follows the course where water previously flowed, water that used to carry sediment down to Lake Tahoe with it. The once bare, hard-packed earth is now soft under foot, with grass and brush taking hold – only days after heavy rain in the basin, the difference in erosion is apparent. “We haven’t seen this kind of rain in five years – it was extremely informative, and the treatment did its job,” said Hogan, a soil scientist and president of Integrated Environmental Restoration Services, during a walkthrough last Friday. “This is truly sort of an adaptive process, we’re always looking for better, more cost-effective ways to treat.” Hogan has been contracted by Homewood to restore stretches of old dirt road, no longer needed and eroding into the lake, and has completed 240,000 square feet as of this year. The approach has been holistic, Hogan said, taking water quality, forest health and even climate change into consideration. By using wood chips from Meeks Bay Fire Protection District’s thinning operations to till into the earth, Hogan said his crew is creating a cheap disposal for the fire hazard reducing process, improving erosion at Homewood and even sinking carbon stores into the soil, a benefit for global warming. “If we don’t incorporate climate change into every project we are going to miss the boat,” Hogan said. While the standard anti-erosion technique has been to spray hydromulch – a slurry of seed, hay and mulch – to cover up eroding hillsides, Hogan has taken a variety of tactics, from filling in old, worn-down roads to tilling the earth and mixing in organic material. From there, Hogan said, the next critical step is monitoring. Using a rain machine, crews are able to simulate rain on untreated and treated patches of land, and collect the sediment running off. “We can typically see a four-to-ten times reduction in sediment,” Hogan said. In some places, he said crews have been able to reduce the erosion to zero, in one case taking erosion from 10,000 pounds of sediment per acre inch of rain to nothing. The work is funded by Homewood and a $650,00 state grant that came in last summer; work has been ongoing since 2006. “A lot of people talk about keeping Lake Tahoe blue, but this is actually doing something about it,” said Art Chapman, president of JMA Ventures, which owns Homewood, as well as Alpine Meadows. As for Homewood Mountain Resort’s development plans, David Tirman, executive vice president of JMA Ventures, said an internal environmental review draft should be ready by spring. “If all goes well we could see project approval about this time next year,” Tirman said. Plans for the north side of the resort include a hotel with up to 75 rooms, 56 condos, 12 workforce housing apartments and 25,000 square feet of retail, while the south side could include up to 99 condominiums and 11 homes.

Business briefs

Alpine Meadows sale to close soon The pending sale of Alpine Meadows ski resort to Homewood Mountain Resort owner JMA Ventures will be finalized this July, according to JMA Ventures President Art Chapman. Alpine Meadows owner Powdr Corp. struck a tentative agreement with JMA Ventures in April to sell the ski resort. Between April and June, JMA Ventures reviewed the resort’s records and agreed to finalize the purchase, according to Chapman. Chapman said his plan for the resort is to “to bring it back as a destination for locals.” Boosting customer service, adding entertainment and up-grading the property are all part of that plan. As for the ticket prices and season pass prices for next season, Chapman said that has not been determined. The resort will consider offering a single pass that would give skiers and snowboarders access to both Homewood and Alpine Meadows. – David Bunker, Sierra Sun New manager for Boreal Long-time Sierra Nevada resident Jody Churich will take over the reins of Boreal Mountain Resort and Soda Springs Mountain Resort, succeeding president and general manager Matt Janney, according to officials with Powdr Corp. Janney was named the new president and general manager at Powdr Corp.’s Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort in Bend, Oregon. – Julie Brown, Sierra Sun

TV report: Drugs, bugs inside soon-to-be-demolished Lake Tahoe hotel

KINGS BEACH, Calif. — A Lake Tahoe motel that recently garnered criticism after a Sacramento TV crew filmed what appeared to be bugs, trash and drug paraphernalia inside is slated to be torn down next spring, officials said Friday. San Francisco-based real estate investment firm JMA Ventures — the managing partner of Homewood Mountain Resort on the lake's West Shore — acquired the Tahoe Inn in 2007, Art Chapman, the company's founder, said Friday, "with the express purpose of tearing it down." JMA plans to demolish the motel at 9937 North Lake Blvd. in Kings Beach, near the north California-Nevada state line, and fully restore the land to open space by spring 2015. The company's decision to raze the hotel was made years ago, Chapman said, and is not in response to a Friday ABC News 10 story about a visit a news crew made to Tahoe Inn room 224 earlier this summer. According to the Sacramento TV station, Sacramento resident Don Simmons and a friend stayed in the same room in July and found bugs crawling across sheets, blankets and pillows. After Simmons contacted News 10 about his experience, reporter Thom Jensen rented room 224 in the weeks following. During his stay, he and a camera crew filmed ants crawling in the room, stains on linens and trash underneath the bed, according to Friday's report. Further, the crew also found two nitrous oxide dispensers — often referred to as "Whip-Its," in which users gain a momentary euphoric high by inhaling the gas — and a pill of what a narcotics detective identified as the drug MDMA, commonly referred to as ecstasy. JMA reportedly declined an on-camera interview, but in a written statement, Chapman said, "We take News10's allegations very seriously and will investigate them thoroughly." During a Friday interview with the Sierra Sun, Chapman said his company did just that. "We responded to Channel 10 and … told them we're taking immediate action to have an exterminator in there to take care of the problem," said Chapman, adding that the action was taken roughly a month and a half ago. "We take pride that the rooms there are clean, and they're healthy. There had never been any protests about the conditions there before, but once Channel 10 brought this to our attention, we made sure it was well-run and clean." Built in the 1950s, the Tahoe Inn boasts 93 hotel rooms and, according to its website, touts itself as being "Lake Tahoe's most affordable lodging option." Rooms run as low as $50 a night, Chapman said. It used to feature 45 extra rooms that were razed at the east end of the property prior to JMA taking over, JMA Executive Vice President David Tirman told the Sierra Sun Friday. "Our group undertook the land restoration of that portion of the property back in 2009, and plan to do the same with the Tahoe Inn when the time comes," Tirman said. That time is likely next spring, Chapman said, as the plan remains to break ground on the multimillion-dollar Homewood Mountain Resort renovation by then. As part of JMA's deal to gain approval from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency for the project, it had to transfer a number of "Tourist Accommodation Units" from elsewhere in the Tahoe basin to accommodate the hotel planned at the resort, Chapman said; those units are currently at the Tahoe Inn. "In order to build the resort at Homewood, we had to allocate those units, so we acquired them at the Tahoe Inn … and will transfer them to the new site," he said. Chapman reiterated that Channel 10's visit this summer was the first time JMA had been made aware of cleanliness or other issues at the hotel. "We had never heard of anything like this before, and we immediately went in to make sure everything was fine," Chapman said. "We take pride in the properties we manage." Chapman said the hotel will be "shut down soon" in preparation of demolition, although he could not provide an exact date. As for the hotel's employees, he said "a very small number of people work there." "Those jobs will be multiplied tenfold at the new hotel at Homewood," Chapman said. Visit jmaventuresllc.com to learn more about JMA Ventures and the regional properties it manages.