Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

Tioga Inn project at the Mobil Station moves forward after 23 years

This post was written by Lisa Cutting, 2002-2020 Eastern Sierra Policy Director, 2000-2001 Environmental Resource Coordinator, and 1999 Mono Lake Intern.

A significant development project at the junction of Highways 120 and 395 is moving forward—the Tioga Inn project.


After a 23-year hiatus, Mobil Station owner Dennis Domaille have recently begun to work with Mono County to secure the necessary approvals to add components to an already-existing specific plan, which was approved in 1993. The specific plan already allows a two-story 120-room hotel and a 100-seat restaurant. The Domailles are proposing to change the plan to allow a three-story 120-room hotel, two large restaurants, and other details. The existing Whoa Nellie Deli would remain in operation.

Mono County is currently accepting scoping comments on the proposed additions—essentially asking for public input on the range and content that they should analyze and include in the forthcoming Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (SEIR). The county promises the SEIR will be “comprehensive in scope, addressing the full range of potential environmental issues.” After the SEIR is released in 2017, public comment will be taken on specific project details and alternatives.

The Mono Lake Committee’s comments will call for the SEIR to include thorough water supply studies including evaluation of any impacts to nearby Lee Vining Creek, and for the SEIR to conduct detailed visual impact studies since the project is adjacent to the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area.

The scoping comment deadline is November 21, 2016. The County Notice of Preparation, including further project details and the procedure for comments, can be found here.


  1. I would like to know all of the pros and cons of this as everyone else does and to see what all of the intents are from both sides.

    • Hi Noel, members are welcome to individually comment to Mono County directly and, as always, the Committee’s letter will mention that we are representing all our members in our comments to the County.

  2. I am not opposed to progress in Lee Vining. This does raise some questions in my mind.
    Does this proposal really make economic sense? That is a huge increase in tourist services.
    I’d love to hear the opinions about this project from the current hoteliers in Lee Vining.
    How do they intend to staff this hotel & restaurant?
    Where is all that staff going to live?

    • Larry and Carol, Great questions—this is exactly what Mono County is looking for in terms of questions to research and analyze through this scoping process. These questions should be answered in the SEIR which will be released next year, likely in the fall.

  3. I am interested to hear the response from local Lee Vining businesses as well. The scale of this project is massive compared to the other businesses in the area. I can’t think of anything that large any closer than Mammoth. My preference would be for it to not go forward but since it was approved in 1993 it seems a little late for that. I would at least wish for it to be limited to two stories.

  4. ‘120-rm 3-story hotel with 200-seat restaurant, fitness center, laundry, car rental, banquet room, gift shop, Restaurant parking  Overflow/oversized vehicle parking 80-unit work-force housing, Sewage leach field’ . . . This sounds like a town of it’s own. I will be commenting. The comment period ends Nov 21st! Here is how to do it:

    Mono County c/o Gerry LeFrancois
    Bauer Planning & Environmental Svcs., Inc.
    P.O. Box 347Mammoth Lakes, California 93546 Tel: 760.924.1810  Fax: 760.924.1801

  5. I was finally able to open the document liked above. Some of my questions have been addressed.
    Included is an 80 (!) unit workforce housing. Wow!
    As Alliex notes above this is an entire new city. Comments are due to the County no later than November 21st. If anyone has an opinion get it written up and submitted now!

  6. This seems far out of proportion with the, um, “carrying capacity” of the area, as well as out of place in the general landscape.

  7. 1993? I have followed the committee, and the general area for a long time,and do not recall a plan of this size. Paul Ashby is right, out of proportion for the area. a project like this could have an adverse effect on the entire area.

    • @Ed, the plan was indeed approved in May of 1993, but the owners only built the existing restaurant, gas station, and housing, so most folks haven’t been aware of the full scope of what was approved back then. Definitely submit comments by next Monday if you can!

  8. @Ed . . . I said the same thing to myself yesterday. In 1993 no one was on the internet, blogs or Facebook is part of the answer I came up with.

    @Mono Lake Committee: The NOP asks us to comment on the ‘aesthetics’, yet only a footprint is provided. Are there any other visuals of the project to view? I made this statement in my comment to Mono County Planning and Development. Thank you.

  9. For anyone who is interested, I found the Final EIR submitted in 1993. It contains drawings of the proposed development, as well as a detailed Specific Plan. I trust Mono Lake Committee to be stewards of this area and to provide an expert evaluation on the pros and cons of the project. I look forward to reading the opinion when it becomes available.

    Here is the link:

    • @AllieX, there aren’t any project documents that show more visuals right now, so thanks for noting that in your comment to Mono County. The evaluation of the project will happen next year when the SEIR is released. Thank you for commenting to Mono County!

      @Paul Ashby, that is an excellent comment to make to Mono County. We hope you’ll submit your comments by next Monday!

  10. Another concern not mentioned in these comments is the upgrades that the local fire service, provided by the Lee Vining Volunteer Fire Department, would have to make. They cannot handle a 3 story hotel with current equipment; would need a big ladder truck and a place to house it (current fire station could not handle).
    Dennis said, at community meeting, that the housing would probably be gradually phased in over the years, toward that number of 80 residences.
    And, the scope of the plan is only thing can react to, right now; actual design specifics would come later. However, can (and should) comment on the importance of a climate-friendly, “green” construction design.