The proposed Village At Squaw Valley project is in the news again. Last week, the Placer County Planning Department published the newly revised specific plan for the project, dated April of 2016. Unfortunately, the new plan is pretty much identical to the last plan, released in April of last year. It’s a behemoth of a plan that has received widespread opposition within the North Lake Tahoe community.
“The latest version of proposed development in Squaw Valley is a matter of ‘meet the new plan; same as the old plan.’ It’s still a blueprint for disaster that threatens everything we love about the Tahoe Sierra.” – Tom Mooers, Sierra Watch
The newly revised plan still calls for:
1547 bedrooms (no change)
A maximum building height of 108 feet (no change)
A 90,000 square foot indoor water park (no change)
Would add an estimated 8,000 new car trips daily into the area on peak days
So what revisions were made? In reading the 300 page “red line” version to identify changes, the majority of the changes reflect minor cosmetic changes agreed to by the Squaw Valley Design Review Committee last fall. The changes do nothing to address the real concerns noted in the Draft Environmental Impact Report last May. The DEIR identified 23 different “significant and unavoidable impacts” to the North Lake Tahoe region. The most recent changes are the equivalent of applying a piece of Hello Kitty duct tape to repair a bursting dam.
There were more than 350 public responses to the DEIR for the Village at Squaw Valley project. More than 95% of those responses raised serious concerns about the impacts of the project: Increased traffic, destruction of the viewshed, availability of water, increased noise and light, and the general scale of the project. The opposition did not come from just a bunch of whack-a-doodle environmentalists. The letters were representative of the entire northern state of California and Nevada. Concerns about the scale of the project were also raised by local businesses and government agencies, including the Town of Truckee, the US Forest Service and the California Highway Patrol.
More recently, 50 local businesses joined together to write a letter expressing their concerns about how the project would affect local businesses that are not a part of the village. While there could be some positive spillover from the increased number of visitors to the area, there’s very realistic concerns about the possible gridlock of traffic and other impacts to the town of Truckee and North Lake Tahoe communities.
“Squaw Valley should be the kind of place where we introduce our kids to the wild wonders of the Great Outdoors, not funnel them inside for the artificial amusements of a big box water park.” – Tom Mooers, Sierra Watch
Although Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth has attempted to invoke the posthumous approval of John Muir, and repeatedly given the message “we are listening”, it’s clear that KSL Capital and Squaw Valley’s true motivation is profit potential. Unfortunately, it looks like Placer County is getting ready to also give a rubber stamp of approval.
What Are The Next Steps?
The final Environmental Impact Report for the Village At Squaw Valley project is expected to be released in the very near future, as it was expected to be released in April. That will trigger a new 30 day comment period. After that, the project will be presented to Placer County supervisors for their approval.
Until then, it’s critical that we continue to let the Placer County supervisors know that we care about the future of not only Squaw Valley, but also the entire North Lake Tahoe region. Our friends at Sierra Watch have made this ultra easy with a form on the Keep Squaw True website. It is easy to fill out and offers some reminders about the most important issues that surround the proposal. We think the message should be clear that the county should reject the project and ask Squaw Valley and KSL Capital to start from scratch and work with the community to come up with a plan everyone can live with.
You can also create your own letter from scratch and send it to:
Placer County Board of Supervisors
175 Fulweiler Ave
Auburn, CA, 95603
You can also send your letter via email to firstname.lastname@example.org