News you need to know: Sunshine Paradise Ranch; Patel hotel; rain and snow on the way

Kenneth Willardt, owner of Sunshine Paradise Ranch LLC, is planning to supply the power needs of the remote South Fork property off grid with a new type of solar battery.

Sunshine Paradise Guest Ranch SUP

At the December 17 Board of Supervisors meeting, following two hours of testimony, the supervisors voted to deny the appeal of the opposition. Opponents of Sunshine Paradise Ranch on South Fork Drive sought to overturn the approval of a SUP (special use permit) for a guest ranch granted last month by the Planning Commission. As part of the hearing on the appeals of the SUP, the board also agreed to strike the condition that restricted the owner from using two houses as short-term rentals to be built adjacent to the encampment of five luxury tipis.

The opposition, represented by attorney Dennis Villavicencio, addressed the cumulative impact of Paradise Ranch and Redwood Ranch, a  separate guest ranch and wedding venue located a mile-and-a-half down-canyon from Sunshine Paradise Ranch. Resource Management Agency planning staff recommended approval of the Sunshine Paradise Ranch SUP with 67 conditions, a record number for a special-use permit.

One of the conditions of Sunshine Paradise Ranch SUP was that the owner must complete a cultural resources survey of the property and seek consultation with sanctioned native heritage tribal groups. After hearing testimony from the applicant and opponents, the supervisors voted 5-0 to deny the appeal of the opponents.

Paradise Ranch: Owner says South Fork offers attractive off-grid lifestyle

News you need to be in the know: Short-term rentals, ownership change at White Horse Inn, Paradise Ranch appeals, Thanksgiving weather

Patel hotel plans on hold

Mike Washam, associate director of County of Tulare RMA, announced earlier this week that the Patel Group of Pleasanton, Calif., has withdrawn their application to develop a boutique hotel complex on property located at Highway 198 and Old Three Rivers Drive. The project was sited on several parcels located in an area designated since 1980 in the Three Rivers Community Plan as a town center.

Gautam Patel, a principal for the family-owned group, devoted considerable time and effort to incorporate local input. Patel reiterated his affection for Three Rivers and said he was not abandoning his plans permanently.

The proposed hotel development was sited within the area designated for a Three Rivers town center in 1980. The birds-eye view is looking northeast. Drone photography by SkyHigh Innovations.

Snow and rain in the holiday forecast

Enjoy a pleasant start to the weekend because as early as Sunday afternoon, the first full day of winter, winter will make a return engagement in Three Rivers and the southern Sierra region. Following Sunday’s warmer air aloft, a deepening cold front will accompany a greater than 30 percent chance of precipitation for nine of the next 10 days. 

Daytime temperatures will remain in the 50s with nighttime lows dipping into the mid-30s. That means a white Christmas and intermittent snow showers in the nearby mountains with temperatures dipping into the teens. 

To date, four inches of rain in Three Rivers has translated to three to four feet of snow at 7,000 feet. The stats are similar up and down the Sierra, and it’s an impressive early start to the 2020 snowpack. Remote sensors are indicating that there is the equivalent of seven inches of water content in that snow, 125 percent of the norm for late December.

There is slightly more than 20 percent of the water from snowmelt in a normal season on April 1 already on the ground. And just in time to make holiday travel problematic, there is more rain and snow on the way.


Signs like this one greet visitors as they enter Three Rivers on Highway 198. There are a dozen local businesses offering tire traction for sale and/or rent, which is a requirement for entering Sequoia National Park.


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