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Tioga Inn project: Changes get disappointing grades before final hearing on August 6

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

This Thursday, August 6, at 10:00am the Mono County Board of Supervisors will conduct a final hearing on the Tioga Inn project. After a lengthy hearing in June the Board gave the developer and staff direction to bring back significant design improvements to address visual impacts, fire concerns, and to add a safe pedestrian route between Lee Vining and the project site.

Community members speaking during the Tioga Inn hearing before the Board of Supervisors in June. Photo by Rose Nelson.

The revised project before the Board shows some progress on addressing visual impacts but falls woefully short on safety and fire protection. For example, the final proposal does not include a safe pedestrian route, isolating future residents from Lee Vining and providing no way for students to walk to school. The original five significant adverse impacts remain with the project, and Board must vote to accept these impacts without mitigation if they vote to approve the project this Thursday.

The developer’s new “Alternative #7-Hybrid Plan” is identified as the “Preferred Alternative.” How is it different from what the Board considered in late June? (more…)

Another public hearing on the Tioga Inn project: August 6, 2020

Friday, July 31st, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

The Mono County planning staff have released the agenda and Board Packet for the Board of Supervisors special meeting on the Tioga Inn project on Thursday, August 6 at 10:00am.

Belt of Venus, Mono Lake by Jeff Sullivan

The view from South Tufa towards Tioga Pass, and the site of the Tioga Inn project. Photo courtesy of Jeff Sullivan.

The Board has the final authority to approve, modify, or deny the Tioga Inn project, which, at this time includes a new “hybrid” alternative that takes into consideration the board’s request for additional information on several aspects of the project that were the result of the last hearing in June.

This is yet another public hearing on this project. Despite board direction to modify the project, the project proponent is making a final attempt to (more…)

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 an August 6 meeting when they can consider the improved project.

Eleventh-hour project changes

On Monday, thoughtful input from (more…)

Tioga Inn project hearing continues into day two

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

After nine hours of presentations and public comment yesterday, the Mono County Board of Supervisors decided to hold deliberations and their vote to approve, modify, or deny the Tioga Inn project on the planned second day of this special meeting.

Highlights and surprising moments from the meeting thus far include 51 in-person and by-Zoom two-minute-limited public comments, with 3 in support and 48 againstthe introduction of wholly new potential elements to the project from the developer, and wide-ranging questions from the Board.

In an effort to assess the effects of reflective surfaces at the proposed Tioga Inn project site, Mono Lake Committee staff brought a 2×3-foot mirror to the site and photographed the reflection from South Tufa. This photograph was presented to the Board. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Mono Lake Committee staff comments focused on the unmitigated significant negative impacts in the Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report—scenic impacts to South Tufa, the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, and throughout the viewshed, impacts to the dark night sky, and issues in direct conflict with the Mono Basin Community Plan, including pedestrian safety, impacts to schools, feasibility of a trail to town, fire safety, and more.

By far, the most impressive part of the day was the wide array of thoughtful and heartfelt comments from the public.

You can follow the proceedings starting today, Tuesday, June 30th at 9:00am online by Zoom, telephone, or live stream (click here for instructions for each).

See you there.

Looking west towards Tioga Pass from South Tufa. Photo courtesy of Jeff Sullivan.

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 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…)

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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