News Briefs

Hyatt Renovations Originally Stated to Begin This Spring, Postponed a Year 

INCLINE VILLAGE 

Originally anticipated to undergo renovations beginning this April through April 2025, the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe has pushed back its changes by a year.  The resort plans to renovate the lakeside portion of the property beginning in April 2024. During this time all lakeside access, activities, and accommodations will be closed including the cottages, Lone Eagle Grille, lakeside ballroom, the beach, and the pier. 

The announcement on the website changed on Jan 12 to reflect a new closure date of April 2024 through April 2026, the previous announcement had a closure date of April of this year and was anticipated to last through April 2025. 

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When asked why the start date for renovations was pushed back a year, the Hyatt’s general manager, Michael Murphy stated, “As with any large-scale renovation, there are many moving parts which can impact the timing of the project.” Moonshine Ink asked specifically why the project was postponed and how the change in closure dates is affecting operations at the Hyatt. In response, Dorothy Hornbeck, a spokesperson for the Hyatt, stated, “The resort does not have any further information to provide at this time.” 

The Hyatt’s proposed renovations have yet to be approved by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, which is charged with oversight and enforcement of planning and programs in the Basin. According to Jeff Cowen, public information officer for the TRPA, the Hyatt’s permit application for the lakefront parcel includes demolition of 12 existing cottages, which contain 48 tourist accommodation units, and construction of 11 new cottages with only 22 tourist accommodation units. Cowen also explained that the proposed project would modify and expand the existing Lone Eagle Grill and Ballroom. 

“The restaurant and ballroom component involves a significant remodel of the existing plus or minus 21,000 square feet,” he said. “The remodeled restaurant and ballroom structure will contain approximately 26,000 square feet of commercial floor area when completed.”

The project will need to conform to TRPA codes, including density, height, land coverage limits, parking, air quality mitigation, as well as other factors. “The Lake Tahoe Regional Plan set growth caps on new development in the Basin,” Cowen said. “Although under TRPA’s growth management system the region is nearing full build-out, the regional plan encourages conversion and or relocation of existing development rights as a way to support environmental redevelopment projects within the existing development caps.” It is unknown when TRPA will approve the renovations. 

The Hyatt declined to comment on whether or not events scheduled to take place at the lakeside ballroom this summer were affected by the initial closure date. Now that renovation has been pushed back a year, events are able to take place at the lakeside ballroom once again and all lakeside activities will resume.  

~ KM

PRESENT: Stakeholders who showed up to the planning commission meeting in Auburn included Palisades Tahoe COO and President Dee Byrne, Alterra Vice President of Development Jason Hansford, Palisades Vice President of Marketing Tom Feitin, and Sierra Watch Executive Director Tom Mooers. Photo by Ted Coakley III/Moonshine Ink

Is the Palisades Village Project EIR Current?

TRUCKEE/ TAHOE

The central question from members of the public over the pending Palisades Tahoe environmental review document is whether it is still valid. The Placer County Planning Commission met Jan. 19 to hold a public review and comment session on the Village at Palisades Specific Plan Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report. 

Due to weather, it was decided the day before to move the meeting from Kings Beach to Auburn, w­ith Zoom live stream available. A county watching site, announced the previous afternoon, was set up in Kings Beach. 

County planners presented the four focus areas of the revised environmental document, and Whit Manley, an attorney representing Alterra, which owns Palisades Tahoe, spoke briefly, emphasizing that valley water supply is stable and the company is committed to building employee housing first.

During public comment, around 20 people spoke, the large majority of whom expressed concerns about the project. The predominant point was that the revised EIR is the same document that was approved in 2015, and neither takes into account how regional conditions have changed since the pandemic nor new information that has surfaced, in particular pertaining to drought and wildfire. Two early comments, from business advocacy organizations, focused on the “exciting” economic prospects of the project. 

The county and Palisades Tahoe maintain that analysis of wildfire from 2015 is still relevant eight years later, while community members argued that new information about wildfire behavior has emerged after the Paradise Fire in 2018, and Dixie and Caldor fires in 2021, both of which crested the Sierra. 

“Extreme fire behavior and rates of spread have changed our idea of when it’s safe to shelter in place,” said Dr. Ben Hatchett, who specializes in atmospheric science. “Former [Olympic Valley Fire] Chief Bansen’s thoughts are out of date given the modern era of wildfire we live in, given that wildfires behave like nothing seen before. My recommendation is to perform more wildfire modeling.”

Commissioner Dan Woodward acknowledged the public’s worries.

“There have been changes in climate and we had some major fire events since 2016,” he said. “[County] staff made the decision that this was adequate to go forward to the board of supervisors along with the court documents, and we have citizens saying this is not a good approach … That portion of the document is lacking a bit, and it’s pretty evident that there is need for further discussion.”

The commissioners expected that the meeting, which started at 10 a.m., would have to be cut off at 5 p.m. Instead, public comment was considerably shorter than anticipated (likely due to the bluebird conditions, as one member of the public stated), and the hearing wrapped up by 1 p.m., including a 30-minute lunch. About 25 people were in the Auburn chambers, while 100 participants tuned in on Zoom.

Placer County Supervising Planner Alex Fisch said there will be more discussion of wildfire evacuations “to ensure we have done the full scope of work to be prepared.”

The planning commission did not take action on the revised draft EIR. The public has until Jan. 30 to submit comments. County staff will then respond to all oral and written comments and incorporate them into the final package that will go before the planning commission, most likely this summer, before heading to the board of supervisors in the fall. At that time, discussion on the full specific plan is slated to happen. This timeline is tentative, Fisch said.

~ Melissa Siig/Special to Moonshine Ink

Counties File Suit Against PG&E for Mosquito Fire Damages

PLACER, EL DORADO COUNTIES 

Placer and El Dorado counties and two other public entities filed a lawsuit against PG&E for damages resulting from the 2022 Mosquito Fire. 

The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco Superior Court and includes as co-plaintiffs El Dorado Water Agency, Georgetown Divide Public Utilities District, and Georgetown Divide Fire Protection District. 

The lawsuit alleges that PG&E’s equipment was the cause and origin of the Mosquito Fire, which caused significant damages to public and natural resources in El Dorado and Placer counties.

The Mosquito Fire started Sept. 6, 2022, and was active for 50 days, burning 76,788 acres. Between the two counties, over 11,000 people were evacuated while more than 3,700 firefighting personnel responded to the fire. By Sept. 8, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Placer and El Dorado. On Sept. 9, FEMA authorized federal management assistance grants for fire fighting and response efforts. 

Placer County is represented by County Counsel Karin E. Schwab and Chief Assistant County Counsel Brett D. Holt. Outside counsel John Fiske and Torri Sherlin of Baron & Budd, and Ed Diab of Dixon Diab & Chambers also represent Placer and El Dorado counties.

~ Placer County and El Dorado County press release

ADOPT-A-HYDRANT: Take Care Tahoe’s Adopt-A-Hydrant campaign promotes fire safety during major snowstorms. Courtesy graphic

Community Members Urged to Remove Snow Around Fire Hydrants

TAHOE CITY

Take Care Tahoe and local fire departments are promoting a campaign to encourage community members to keep fire hydrants clear of snow and debris in an effort to help fire personnel should an emergency occur. 

With over 4,000 fire hydrants in the Tahoe Basin, Take Care Tahoe asks community members to Adopt-A-Hydrant in their neighborhood by clearing a three foot radius on every side of the hydrant and to the road’s edge each time it snows.

Every year, wood stoves and fireplaces cause 54,000 structure fires across the country. During the winter months, the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District typically sees an increase in household fires due to improper use of fireplaces and wood burning stoves, overdue maintenance, and animal nesting.

“As roads are cleared during and after winter storms, fire hydrants unintentionally get covered with snow,” said NTFPD Fire Marshal John James. “Between emergency responses, fire district personnel work on clearing fire hydrants, but because of the increase in call volume that typically occurs during storm events, we need help with this effort. Community members willing to adopt the hydrant closest to their home or business and keep it clear of snow and debris are ultimately helping to keep our community safer.”

If the closest hydrant is buried or community members don’t know where it is, contact the nearest fire district for GPS locations.

Find your local fire district and learn more about the Adopt-A-Hydrant program at takecaretahoe.org.

~ Take Care Tahoe press release 

SKIS FOR A CAUSE: Truckee High School student Frida Quinero designs skis for Nordica, proceeds to benefit nonprofit SOS Outreach. Courtesy photo

High School Student Designs Custom Nordica Ski

TRUCKEE

Local teenager Frida Quintero received an opportunity that would make even a professional graphic designer green with envy: to design a custom, limited-edition ski in partnership with Nordica.

Quintero, 17, first heard about the unique opportunity through the youth development nonprofit SOS Outreach, which operates in several mountain towns in the U.S., including Truckee. Quintero is a longtime participant of SOS Outreach,whose mission is to bridge opportunities for young people via a progressive 10-year curriculum, positive adult mentorship, and mountain sports like skiing and snowboarding. Quintero, now in her 10th year of the program, immediately leapt at the opportunity. 

“I think it’s so cool how far I’ve come since I started with SOS,” she says, “I used to be scared to ski, but now, not only do I love skiing, I get to do this really cool project with a huge brand like Nordica … It never crossed my mind that an opportunity like this would come my way.”

Quintero joined a cohort of three other young women to collaboratively design the ski. As a group, each person was either a current SOS participant or alumni, identified as female, and under the age of 22. Quintero not only wanted to grow personally through this experience, but she, along with her peers, wanted to make a statement in the outdoor industry, “as a team of women and women of color, we thought it was important to make our mark in the ski industry. We want to show that other women can pursue these opportunities too.”

SKIS FOR A CAUSE: Truckee High School student Frida Quinero designs skis for Nordica, proceeds to benefit nonprofit SOS Outreach. Courtesy photo

After months of hard work, the cohort unveiled their ski design over Martin Luther King weekend at SOS’s signature fundraising event, The MLK Powder Challenge, located in Silverton, Colorado. As of today, the ski is officially live on the market and being sold exclusively on Christy Sports’ website. Only 50 pairs of this custom ski were manufactured and it is expected to sell quickly. 100% of the sales will be donated to support youth in SOS Outreach. 

For more information or to purchase the ski, please visit christysports.com.

~ SOS Outreach press release 

SNOWY DISASTER: Disaster recovery reimbursement for TDPUD will partially offset nearly $2 million in unbudgeted costs from the historic December 2021 storms. Courtesy photo

Public Utility District Recovers $1.2 Million for December 2021 Storm Damages

TRUCKEE

Truckee Donner Public Utility District recently received $1.2 million in disaster relief to help offset nearly $2 million in storm-related damage from the historic December 2021 storms. The Truckee region — and overall Sierra Nevada — experienced historic winter storms starting on Dec. 10, 2021, with snowfall records smashed by the end of the month. TDPUD experienced a more than two week period where significant damage was incurred for both the water and electric utilities.

“This is a great win for our customers. TDPUD’s field crews and staff worked tirelessly in extremely challenging conditions to respond to a series of major weather events and safely restore power,” said Brian Wright, TDPUD general manager. “At the same time, we were advocating to be eligible for the disaster recovery funds and our administrative team did a great job documenting our expenses and completing the disaster recovery application.”

TDPUD began experiencing damage on Dec. 13. TDPUD crews and contractors continued to work into 2022 to remove debris piles and fully complete projects related to the December 2021 storms.

The state of California declared an emergency starting on Dec. 10. However, both Nevada and Placer counties, in which TDPUD operates, had storm damage and declared emergencies on Dec. 26 and 27, respectively. This inconsistency with the state’s declaration could have disqualified TDPUD from state disaster recovery funds. TDPUD, in response, quickly raised awareness of the inconsistency and mobilized state-wide partners to work with CalOES staff both locally and in Sacramento. As a result of this effort, eligibility for disaster recovery was made available to all counties starting Dec. 10, regardless of the actual county declaration.

~ TDPUD press release 

Business Briefs

A NEW DOG: An upgraded, high-speed version of the Red Dog Lift opened for the first time on Jan. 15. Courtesy photo

Palisades Tahoe Unveils Red Dog Lift Ahead of World Cup 

OLYMPIC VALLEY

Following the debut of the new Base-to-Base Gondola earlier this season, Palisades Tahoe announces the official reopening of the upgraded Red Dog Lift. After more than 30 years, the Red Dog Lift has been replaced with a high-speed, detachable six-person lift. The Red Dog base terminal has moved to the east, giving skiers direct access to the lift from the parking lot, and the lift then passes over the Far East Express before off-loading in its original location. With a 50% increased uphill capacity, Red Dog now offers skiers and riders a 5-minute ride to some of the most legendary terrain at the resort.

Next month, Palisades Tahoe will host the World Cup for the Men’s Slalom and Giant Slalom events along Dog Leg and Red Dog Face, and the new Red Dog Lift will provide easy access for competitors and event organizers alike. Featured in 2017 for the World Cup Women’s Alpine Event, Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin described this Red Dog course as “one of, if not the, toughest” venues on the World Cup circuit.

~ Palisades Tahoe press release 

BIKING FOR ALL: The mountain bike shoe brand Ride Concepts pioneers an adaptive team and hopes to positively influence the bike industry. Biker Sean Kent is seen here at the Northstar bike park. Courtesy photo

Ride Concepts Announces Adaptive Team

RENO

The mountain bike community has a growing niche of athletes that take their enthusiasm to the next level — athletes who love the ride despite physical challenges they may face. This is why Ride Concepts is honored to introduce the Ride Concepts Adaptive Team. The adaptive team is a group of dedicated riders that, regardless of their equipment, drive passion for dirt and speed.

With team manager and factory athlete Paul Basagoitia at the helm, the Ride Concepts Adaptive Team is a group of men and women who are leaders in the adaptive mountain bike community. With podiums and appearances at global events such as the Sea Otter Classic and Crankworx Whistler, the adaptive team brings the sport to new levels of recognition. 

“It’s been one of my goals to create an adaptive MTB team ever since I sustained a spinal-cord injury,” Basagoitia said. “My mission is to help each of these individuals accomplish their goals and to give them all the knowledge that I can offer to help them become better bike riders. I look forward to building this movement and hope to one day crown the first adaptive king and queen of Crankworx.”

The goal of the Ride Concepts Adaptive Team is to foster continued recognition and inclusion of adaptive athletes in the mountain bike community. In 2023, Ride Concepts looks forward to offering personal guidance to the team riders, including the athletes in our marketing and content, and supporting adaptive mountain bike camps. 

More information on the Ride Concepts Adaptive Team can be found at rideconcepts.com

~ Ride Concepts press release

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