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Mono County Supervisors tackle the big picture on Tioga Inn, direct major fixes

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

After two lengthy days of public meeting and deliberation, the Mono County Board of Supervisors sent the Tioga Inn project back to the developer and staff for major improvements to the design and content.

In September last year, the Mono County Planning Commissioners and members of the public visited the Tioga Inn project site. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The Board affirmed its commitment to protect the long-term best interests of Mono County and its residents and visitors. Supervisors recognized the project will set a precedent for large development throughout the county and frequently noted the need to get the Tioga Inn project right, especially in light of its prominent location and size relative to the existing community.

Supervisors are expecting significant project design improvements that will reduce visual impacts, resolve fire concerns, and add a safe pedestrian route between Lee Vining and the project site. The Mono Lake Committee continues to work closely with the Lee Vining community and looks forward to engaging with Mono County staff to craft significant changes that will produce a project that respects the local community and the scenic Mono Basin.

The Board tentatively scheduled a July 20 special meeting when they can consider the improved project.

Eleventh-hour project changes

On Monday, thoughtful input from (more…)

Tioga Inn project: Minimal modeling shows significant impacts to the Mono Basin’s scenic resources

Saturday, June 27th, 2020 by Robbie, Restoration Field Technician

The Draft Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (DSEIR) for the Tioga Inn project identified five significant and unavoidable adverse impacts. Despite a large and comprehensive public response voicing concerns over these impacts, the Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (FSEIR) declared:

“The significant and unavoidable adverse impacts that were identified in the DSEIR will remain significant and unavoidable if the proposed Tioga [Inn] project is approved, even with modifications proposed in this FSEIR.”

Of these five impacts, impacts to scenic views were the hardest for me personally to fully comprehend since no 3-D models were provided to demonstrate what the project would look like after grading and construction were completed. Notably, the FSEIR acknowledged that project impacts to aesthetic resources were the most common and frequent concern from comment letters. To better understand what the final project as proposed in the FSEIR would look like I conducted a 3-D visualization and viewshed analysis using ArcGIS. (more…)

Deadline to send comments about the Tioga Inn extended

Friday, June 26th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

The deadline to email comments to Mono County about the Tioga Inn project has been extended from 5:00pm tonight to 9:00am on Monday morning, which is when the hearing begins.

Please email your comment to cddcomments at mono dot ca dot gov and also to Bartshe Miller, the Committee’s Policy Director.

Helpful resources for writing your comment:

In addition to emailing your comments, you can attend the hearing online via Zoom and speak as well. Thank you for making your voice heard!

An example of one of the project’s significant adverse visual impacts: This reflection from a small piece of glass at the Tioga Inn project site is clearly visible at South Tufa, marring the dawn view. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Tioga Inn project threatens Mono Lake views and creates harmful impacts for the Lee Vining community, Mono County, and the gateway to Yosemite National Park

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

Next Monday, June 29, starting at 9:00am PDT, the Mono County Board of Supervisors will consider the Tioga Inn project and ultimately vote to approve, modify, or deny it.

The reflection from a small piece of glass at the Tioga Inn project site is clearly visible at South Tufa, marring the dawn view. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

 

This is a critical moment for public comment. The Tioga Inn project threatens to bring a host of significant adverse impacts to the community of Lee Vining, the scenic Mono Basin, and the gateway to Yosemite National Park.

Since the scoping process for the project began four years ago, over a thousand comment letters and hours of testimony from residents, agencies, and the public have offered suggestions about, mitigations for, and solutions to the project impacts. However, the developer has rejected meaningful changes to the project, and the significant adverse impacts remain.

As a result, the Supervisors now have to consider a project that damages the scenic nature of the Mono Basin, compromises the safety of motorists, pedestrians and cyclists, stretches the capacity of local schools and the volunteer fire department, and saddles the Lee Vining community and Mono County taxpayers with impacts and financial burdens that should be the responsibility of the developer.

Monday’s meeting will be (more…)

Mono County Board of Supervisors will consider Tioga Inn project on June 29

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

At their regular meeting this morning, the Mono County Board of Supervisors confirmed that they will consider the Tioga Inn project on Monday, June 29.

The view over Mono Lake from the site of the proposed Tioga Inn project. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The meeting will take place in the Lee Vining High School gym, which can accommodate up to 100 people with proper social distancing protocols. It will also be available virtually on Zoom. The combined in-person and virtual meeting format will allow (more…)

Tioga Pass will open on Monday, June 15

Monday, June 8th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

As part of its phased reopening plan, Yosemite National Park has announced that the Tioga Road will open for the season on Monday, June 15.

Tioga Pass on June 3, 2019. This year it’s scheduled to open on Monday, June 15. Photo by Arya Harp.

Anyone planning to enter the park through the eastern entrance at Tioga Pass will need a day-use reservation—both people planning to recreate in the park and those who are just traveling through. The only exception (more…)

Birding Mono Lake: A Big Day in May

Thursday, May 28th, 2020 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

On May 9, to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day and eBird’s Global Big Day, my partner Kevin and I set out to see as many bird species as possible within a 5 miles radius (5MR) of the Mono Lake Committee office while contributing to the eBird Global Big Day citizen science project. Last year, I saw 76 species in my 5MR and my goal was to break 80 this year. Though the species count is a motivator, the birds are the prize! We had an amazing day. I have linked the eBird Checklists to each location I mention, so you can see what we were seeing and hearing.

A map of the 5MR. It includes many prime birding spots! Photo from Google Maps.

We started at 5:00am, hearing the pre-dawn crooning of American Robins and House Wrens. Then we drove up Lee Vining Canyon for the dawn chorus. I had been keeping track of the returning migrants diligently, but this week was bursting with new (more…)

Tioga Inn project heads to Mono County Board of Supervisors for a late-June hearing date

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

The Mono County Board of Supervisors will consider the Tioga Inn project at the end of June. While the exact date is yet to be confirmed, the two possible dates are June 25–26 or June 29–30. The Board is considering possible two-day hearing dates to better accommodate expected public comment and to fully deliberate the project before making a final decision.

A view of the current Tioga Gas Mart, which is the site of the future proposed Tioga Inn development. Photo by Elin Ljung.

With to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in California and the Expanded Stage 2 phase of Mono County’s reopening plan, the Supervisors are hoping that a hybrid meeting format of a live, in-person meeting combined with (more…)

Roads opening in the Mono Lake region

Friday, May 15th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

As of today, several roads in the Mono Lake region have opened for the season:

The lower gate on the Tioga Road opened today; the gate at the Yosemite National Park boundary remains closed. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

  • Highway 120 West is open from the junction with Highway 395 to the gate at the Yosemite National Park boundary
  • Highway 270 is open to Bodie State Historic Park
  • Highway 108 (Sonora Pass) is open

Despite these roads opening, Yosemite National Park remains closed, Bodie State Historic Park remains closed, and non-essential travel is still prohibited under California’s “stay at home” order.

Tioga Inn likely to go before Mono County Board of Supervisors in June

Friday, May 1st, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

No date has yet been set for the Mono County Board of Supervisors to take up the Tioga Inn project, but it is likely to happen in June.

The Mono County Board of Supervisors is likely to address the Tioga Inn project in June. In September last year, the Planning Commissioners and members of the public visited the project site. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Following the disappointing Mono County Planning Commission meeting of April 16, at which the commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the project despite hundreds of public comments in opposition, the Supervisors discussed options for a Tioga Inn meeting at their April 21 regularly scheduled meeting. They expressed interest in (more…)

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