SierraWave tossed up a real soft-ball on the proposed Hooper development at Paradise Lodge. Reporting on last week’s Mono Planning Commission meeting, you covered the minor issues but only alluded to the one compelling problem: building custom homes inches from and even over-hanging beautiful Rock Creek.
The Mono County General Plan stipulates a 30′ setback from a stream and this has been uniformly enforced- as it should be. Through an insider process called a Director’s Review, Mr. Hooper was allowed to “renovate” two cabins into a fabulous custom home within 4′ of the scenic waterway. Despite the fact that an EIR was in process, this waiver was granted- setting the precedent that this and 4 other cabins plus the bar and restaurant could be converted to million dollar creek-side homes.
The deceit here is that these cabins, inches from the stream, are being preserved and thus are entitled to be “grandfathered in” and allowed despite their non-conformance to the General Plan. In reality, the formerly public fishing rentals are being converted to private custom homes, which should trigger a requirement that the new residences be subjected to the same setbacks that any other citizen must abide by. In addition, once renovation exceeds 50% of value, FEMA requires that they be elevated above flood level which requires excavation and foundation work right up to the water’s edge.
Conversion of the former restaurant and bar into a dual residence is a similar ruse. The Paradise Lodge building (now in a state of disrepair) actually bridges Rock Creek. A truly unique and wonderful business opportunity to build otherwise banned creek-side homes! It understandable that the developer would want this opportunity. It is also reasonable that the citizens of Mono County should be outraged by the proposal to build custom homes over the creek.
The Mono County Planning Commission listened well at the meeting last week, and surely they will not be bamboozled into accepting these non-conforming conditions of Mr. Hooper’s otherwise fine development plans.
This boils down to an issue of fairness. Being rich, privileged, and/or influential should not entitle a person to a waiver of good public policy- specifically the 30′ setback from Rock Creek.