The Community Says No To The Village At Squaw Valley Project…Again

Image via Keep squaw True
Hundreds of people attended last Saturday’s Squaw Valley MAC meeting. Image via Keep squaw True

The community continues to deliver the message that they are not willing to accept the proposed Village At Squaw Valley project as currently proposed. Last Saturday, the Squaw Valley Municipal Advisory Council voted 3-1 to recommend that the Placer County Board of Supervisors  deny the application by Squaw Valley to build the oversized project.

It’s not the first time the community resisted the plan. For more than two years, the community tried to organize and incorporate as the town of Olympic Valley to gain more local control over the plan. Squaw Valley and Andy Wirth, under the friendly moniker “Save Olympic Valley”, spent more than $800,000 fighting the incorporation effort, finally killing it off last fall. There was also strong community opposition after the release of the draft Environmental Impact Report last summer. The dEIR identified “23 different significant and unavoidable impacts” from the proposed project. Roughly 350 different individuals, businesses and government agencies expressed their opposition to the plan, mostly based on the scale of the project and resulting issues with traffic, noise, use of local resources and the expected 25 year construction period.

Sure, there’s an occasional person out there that does support the project. We noted that this letter appeared in support of the project in the Sierra Sun recently. It points out a simple fact. Nearly every one of these letters comes from someone that stands to directly benefit from the project. The letter this week was from an upper level employee at Squaw Valley. Other letters of support have come from both athletes and local non-profits that are essentially sponsored by Squaw Valley.

“Saturday was a great night for Squaw and everyone who loves Lake Tahoe. Hundreds of people turned out, and the Council demonstrated true leadership in taking a stand for Squaw.” –  said Tom Mooers, Executive Director of Sierra Watch

KSL Capital Partners purchased the North Tahoe resort in 2010, citing Squaw’s “great growth potential”.  Their final Village at Squaw Village Specific Plan proposes to remake Squaw Valley with development of scale and type never before seen in North Lake Tahoe.  KSL is asking for 25 years worth of entitlements for:

  • A 90,000 square foot 96’ tall indoor waterpark with waterslides, indoor waterskiing, fake rivers, arcades, and a 30 lane bowling complex;
  • 1,493 new bedrooms spread among a series of highrise condo hotels (many of which would be nearly 100’ tall) surrounding the existing village;
  • 21 timeshare mansions on undeveloped land in the mouth of Shirley Canyon; and
  • a propane “tank farm” with 30,000 gallon tanks at the entrance to the resort.

On Saturday, Chevis Hosea, Squaw Valley VP of Real Estate, rose to represent the developers, touting the economic development their project would bring and explaining how the $1,000/square foot condos would make Squaw Valley a world-class destination.

He announced a change in their plans: trimming the height of the indoor waterpark from 108 to 96 feet, a modest reduction that would still allow the developers – and Tahoe – to lay claim to the tallest indoor waterslide in North America.

Three members of the Squaw Valley MAC were forced to recuse themselves from the meeting as they had potential conflicts of interest. It’s our guess that had all members voted, the best result that Squaw Valley developers could have expected would be a 5-2 vote to recommend denying the application, although it’s quite possible it could have gone 6-1.

In addition to passing the motion to recommend denying the application, the Council made a second vote to recommend that that Placer County supervisors approve the alternative version of the project presented in the Environmental Impact Report. That version would cut the project by about 50% and eliminate nearly all of the predicted impacts from the project. The council’s motion includes a request that a new EIR be completed to fully analyze the reduced plan.

The Placer County Planning Commission is slated to review the project next. The meeting, which reportedly was scheduled for late May has now been postponed until June. Will the community also show up by the hundreds to let them know this project is just too big? We have no doubts they will be there in force.

“Isn’t there already enough adventure here in this valley? Shouldn’t we be exposing kids to the natural wonders of this valley?” – Sally Brew, Squaw Valley resident

Image via Keep Squaw True
Image via Keep Squaw True

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