Pursuant to our successful appeal and subsequent settlement with the Placer County Board of Supervisors and Homewood Mountain Resort, the Committee has this week received the "Homewood Evacuation and Life Safety Report," prepared under the direction of the North Tahoe Fire.
The report concludes that "any complex evacuation route can become compromised in a major disaster. Therefore, this report, consistent with the Settlement and the direction of NT Fire, includes several items on a programmatic level that will lower the demand on evacuation systems by providing defensible space, fire-safe buildings, increased firefighting capacity and areas of refuge for residents."
"The Settlement required that a finding of 'non-exacerbation' be made for evacuation from the West Shore and, by extension, the North Tahoe Basin, as some evacuation routes are shared by some or all. Key to providing for 'non-exacerbation' will be to implement a comprehensive fire safety program."
The report continues, "evacuation may not be a realistic possibility at any given time. In short, immediate evacuation is only one component of a life-safety plan and is easily compromised by events or conditions outside the control of the authorities let alone the Project. The roads leading away from Homewood are low speed two lane roads which are often densely lined with forest. Highway 89 has been closed frequently over the decades by numerous disasters or accidents. The most recent fire related event that closed the road was the relatively small Washoe Fire (19.83 acres in August 2007)."
The further safety elements required to avoid impacting evacuation safety, according to NT Fire, include--
- New and expanded Homewood Fire Station centrally located in a "hardened" structure
- A central fire control facility on the Homewood Mountain Resort site
- Increased fire personnel staffing in the Homewood station
- New fire fighting apparatus including a Type 1 engine, a Type III brush engine, an ALS ambulance, a water truck, a utility vehicle, a new ladder truck, and a pumper boat that can draw water directly from the lake for fire fighting
- Lake water flow connected to the project standpipe
- Shelter-in-place to be designed and built like a "high-rise" package
- A defensible space vegetation management program
- CC&Rs and development agreements to ensure continuation of the fire safety program
Under the terms of settlement, HMR is now to work with NTFPD to make the report available to the public and to schedule at least one public meeting to discuss the report. NTFPD was not a party to the litigation but is expected to oversee the public comment process, the specific responses to public comments, and the necessary changes in the report as required by the settlement. (See here.)
The Committee wishes to express great appreciation for the detailed work of NTFPD on this important report.