Back in 2022, Art Chapman, who is the founder and chairman of JMA Ventures, announced his intention to make Homewood Mountain Resort, which they own, into a semi-private ski resort. Eventually, access would only be available to homeowners at the ski resort and people that are a part of HOAs on the West Shore.
Since then, they’ve refined the plan to have some limited public access to skiers and riders on a limited amount of the weekdays. These moves prompted strong resistance from the local community.
The battle between the ski resort and advocacy groups such as Keep Homewood Public and The Homewood Project, has come to a head over the past couple of months. This week, Keep Homewood Public scored a major victory.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Authority (TRPA) told Keep Homewood Public this week that they have paused permitting on the various Homewood Mountain Resort redevelopment projects. Homewood Mountain Resort now has to submit an updated proposal for the entire redevelopment project.
Unsurprisingly, JMA Ventures is not thrilled about this. Here was the response of Chip Wilkins, a lawyer that represents JMA Ventures, back on April 28th, when it started to seem like TPRA was going to pause the plans:
“Not only is the status quo not the environmentally superior or preferred alternative, it is not financially sustainable. If the implementation of the Master Plan continues to be delayed, there is a substantial risk that the current commitments of investment capital will be lost and HMR will close.
As your e-mail correctly points out, the EIS certified by TRPA concluded that closing the ski resort would result in significant and unavoidable impacts to recreation. To avoid this risk, my client requests that TRPA refrain from spreading the false claims of project opponents that JMA Ventures and its partners intend to privatize HMR.”
First opened back in 1962, Homewood Mountain Resort has been known for its stunning views of Lake Tahoe, its local feel compared to other nearby corporate resorts, and its variety of terrain.
The 2011 Master Plan aimed to modernize Homewood. Some of the plans included a hotel, a mid-mountain lodge, the replacement of the Madden and Ellis chairs, and more. Notably, Homewood said in the master plan that they would “maintain the heritage of a ski resort that can be enjoyed equally by local residents and visitors.”
Since the plan was approved, not many on-mountain improvements have been made. Their on-mountain lodges are aging, and they have only one high-speed chairlift. Meanwhile, their local competitors, Northstar, and Palisades Tahoe have drastically improved their slopes with continued investments in lifts and facilities.
Due to a lack of investment at the ski resort, significant traffic issues around Homewood, and the rise of the Epic and Ikon Passes, skier visitation is down 40% since 2011. Back in 2022, Art Chapman stated that they were seeing less than 1000 guests on weekends, and fewer than 100 skiers on weekdays.
The problem with Homewood Mountain Resort throughout this situation has been messaging.
Art Chapman stated back in 2022 that the public day ticket model no longer worked for them, and they wanted to eliminate access to commuter skiers that didn’t own real estate around the area. He also said to the Moonshine Ink that there was no assurance that they wouldn’t become a private ski resort. Similar sentiments from Art Chapman were echoed in a June 2022 Sierra Sun article. This was in stark contrast to what was approved in the 2011 Master Plan.
Over the past couple of weeks, they’ve now been releasing statements saying that it will still be open to the public if the developments were approved. Here’s what Homewood said in a statement to the Sierra Sun:
“Homewood Mountain Resort has been part of the West Shore and Lake Tahoe business community for over 60 years. We understand the significance the mountain has in the region as it is our home. The Homewood Mountain Resort redevelopment project continues to conform to the approved master plan and does not privatize the mountain. The plan will deliver significant environmental benefits to the Tahoe Basin and will continue to support community access to the mountain during all seasons.”
Keep Homewood Public easily found various quotes that showed what the ski resort wants to eventually do, while Homewood Mountain Resort kept altering its position since the initial announcement last year. We still don’t know from them what a membership will cost and what the season pass prices will be for the 2023-24 season.
In the meantime, a new proposal has to be made to the Tahoe Regional Planning Authority to get Homewood’s plans to move forward. This has led the Discovery Land Company, which has partnered with the ski resort on the plans, to meet with community members to try and find common ground. Here’s Keep Homewood Public’s statement regarding this meeting:
“Our advocacy also elicited a surprising response from Homewood partner Discovery Land Company. Last week, Discovery representatives met with several West Shore community members, including KHP representatives, to learn the community’s wishes for the project. (Notably, JMA did not participate in the meetings.) Your West Shore neighbors all relayed the same message: We want what was promised in the Master Plan. As a result of these meetings, we expect Discovery to have a stronger hand in crafting the developers’ upcoming proposal to TRPA.”
I’m curious to see what Homewood’s next move is here. They were supposed to construct a new gondola to replace the Madden Chair this offseason. They needed the approvals to get started on the new gondola, so they’re kind of screwed at the moment for having it open during the 2023-24 season.
It’ll be interesting to see whether they’ll invest in the resort to keep it competitive in the Lake Tahoe region, or if they’ll continue to push the membership model.
Update 5/25 at 8 pm: We’ve received a statement from Homewood Mountain Resort, which you can read below:
“We will deliver on our promises to make Homewood extremely special to the West Shore. While twelve years have passed since the original Master Plan approvals, the key programming and community benefits under the Master Plan will remain intact.
The development plan will preserve the mountain as a key gathering area for the West Shore and provide a robust array of all-year community and recreational access to the mountain including community season passes and daily ski access. Homewood’s North Base will serve as the heart of the development, surrounded by a new general store open to the community along with a new amphitheater that will offer outdoor summer concerts. Locals will also enjoy seasonal pop-ups including a winter ice rink. Access to hiking on the mountain will continue alongside community offerings and services including bike rentals, electric charging stations, an ice cream parlor, and more.
Additionally, the plan will not privatize the mountain nor include ‘members-only’ access. It will also deliver significant environmental benefits to the Tahoe Basin and continues the resort’s two decades of environmental stewardship.
In the coming months, we will further engage with the community, sharing a plan in greater alignment with the original Master Plan and vision.”
Image Credits: Keep Homewood Public (Featured & Header Image), Homewood Mountain Resort