Conservationists criticize proposed north Tahoe resort |

Conservationists criticize proposed north Tahoe resort

CRYSTAL BAY (AP) – A coalition of environmental groups is criticizing plans for a resort on Lake Tahoe’s north shore, citing concerns over its size and impact on traffic.

The League to Save Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Area Sierra Club and the California Watershed Network are among groups that have expressed concerns over the Boulder Bay project in Crystal Bay.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, which governs land use around the lake, has issued a draft environmental impact statement offering five alternative options for the project.

Boulder Bay President Heather Bacon supports an option that would allow a 300-room hotel, a 10,000-square-foot casino, 59 whole-ownership units and a spa on the site of the Tahoe Biltmore hotel-casino.

“The proposed project is just too big,” Carl Young of the League to Save Lake Tahoe told the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. “There are also significant concerns with the traffic study.”

TRPA spokesman Dennis Oliver said many residents have voiced support for the project.

“We’ve received hundreds of comments regarding the project, and the overwhelming majority are in support of the project, citing the environmental and economic benefits to the region,” Oliver said.

But conservationists said the agency is understating the project’s impact on traffic.

Ann Nichols, president of the North Tahoe Preservation Alliance, said the area sees an average of 1,835 daily vehicle trips, but TRPA used an estimate of 5,500 daily trips based on potential peak traffic flow.

The draft study estimates the development would help generate 3,415 daily trips, which can be an increase or decrease in traffic impact, depending on which statistical analysis is used.

In a letter to TRPA, California Attorney General Jerry Brown questioned its traffic statistics.

“The use of a hypothetical baseline, rather than observed existing conditions, likewise distorts the draft’s … analysis,” Brown wrote.

Bacon said regardless of numbers, her company plans to take steps to reduce visitors’ use of cars on the busy north shore.

Guests will be provided with electric bicycles, patrons will be able to rent a vehicle for a short duration under a car-sharing program and a shuttle service will offer transportation to the Reno airport, she said.

“We want to provide people reliable transportation by developing solutions that work,” Bacon said.

The project would result in a major reduction from the property of sediments that are diminishing Tahoe’s famed clarity, she added.

Oliver said the traffic study is being revised in preparation for the final environmental impact study, which should be released in two months.

Bacon is hoping for TRPA governing board approval this spring and a start of construction in summer 2011.

Information from: North Lake Tahoe Bonanza