There’s no doubt that a battle is brewing over the proposed mega-sized Village At Squaw Valley project. With a meeting of the Placer County Planning Commission now less than 2 weeks away, the marketing department at Squaw Valley has shifted into high gear. What’s remarkable is how desperate they have become in their quest to find any sort of public support they can find for the project.
Why are they desperate for support? The Placer County Planning Commission will be meeting to discuss and potentially approve or deny the application for the Village At Squaw Valley project on August 11th. That meeting is scheduled for 10:30 at the North Tahoe Events Center in Kings Beach.
We think it’s an awesome venue for the meeting. As one of my friends notes, “Kings Beach is broken.” The other day, it took me 45 minutes to get from Crystal Bay to Highway 267. As you sit in that traffic and search for parking to attend the meeting, you can reflect on the future of traffic in the entire North Tahoe region. Despite the traffic, we encourage you to attend and speak up for the future of Tahoe.
It’s clear that there is widespread local community opposition to the project. Squaw Valley Ski Holdings spent around $850,000 to kill the effort to incorporate the town of Olympic Valley through a thinly veiled “Save Olympic Valley” campaign. But that effort only seemed to fuel the fires of opposition to the project. More and more locals and visitors from afar have stood up to oppose the project, leading to a rejection of the proposal by the Squaw Valley Municipal Advisory Committee last May.
Although SVSH has literally been begging for support over the last few months, little has been forthcoming. Two letters of support have appeared in the Sierra Sun – one from local real estate broker and the other from a second homeowner in Squaw Valley, both of whom stand to benefit financially from the project. There’s also been a scant amount of supportive comments on Facebook – notably from a prominent Squaw Valley builder of high end homes and a local architect. Again, these are people that stand to benefit greatly from the project. Is that really the best you’ve got Squaw Valley?
They’ve got to be feeling pretty desperate. Our recent post noted the creation of the SquawTomorrow website, which now encourages people to contact Placer County officials to show support of the plan via phone calls, email or tweets. My Facebook feed has been subjected to a daily barrage of propaganda from the Village At Squaw Valley Redevelopment page. The latest effort is a 30 second TV spot, slickly produced to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. I am quite curious as to what markets that ad is targeting. I would guess it’s not just being shown on local TV.
Watching that little piece of propaganda makes me wonder…is it better to wither away or Wirth-er away?
Author Andrew Pridgen take a step by step walk through the official release and does the fact checking that was not done by other media outlets. Truth be told, it’s not as much step by step as it does tends to weave around with sprinkles of offbeat humor and the usual sprinkling of f-bombs. But it is entertaining and it asks great questions.
Ultimately the “facts” presented by the Squaw Valley are certainly in need of questioning:
• “The project has been reduced by 50 percent since inception” We have cautioned over and over for the last four years that nobody should fall for this argument. Since the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, developer’s have routinely asked to build twice as much as they intended, so they can look like “good guys” when they reduce the project by 50%…to what they actually wanted. Don’t be a sucker.
• “The entitlements for the project would permit redevelopment over a 25-year period” That’s all they really need to say there. Any argument that development won’t necessarily span a continuous 25 years is fallacious. Because SVSH is really only asking for entitlements to build and will likely sell these rights to other individual developers, it’s actually quite likely that somewhere within the Village, some long term project will be underway…for the entire 25 years or more. Ask the people of Kings beach how they have felt about three years of redevelopment – and it’s really just getting started there.
• “500+ new year-round jobs supporting tourism that isn’t seasonally dependent” Is the trouble that there are not jobs in Tahoe, or that there is not enough affordable housing for workers in Tahoe? It’s not just Squaw Valley that has trouble hiring workers. Take a short walk or drive anywhere around Tahoe and the “Help Wanted” signs far outnumber the “For Rent” signs. The affordable housing shortage is real, and asking people to drive in from Reno is not a solution.
• “Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows contributes annually to regional transit initiatives, the resort utilized $285,000 for traffic control within Squaw Valley during the 2015-16 season, operating a successful three-lane model on a total of 44 high traffic days.” Yes, we have all seen the pictures, and most of us sat through horrid traffic jams last season. If SVSH claims their efforts solved the traffic problem, can we trust their judgement at all?
The list goes on and on. The Village At Squaw Valley “Redevelopment” project does not make sense for Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, or the greater North Lake Tahoe region. We ask that members of the Placer County Planning Commission, and members of the Placer County Board of Supervisors deny the application as it stands and ask Andy Wirth and friends to go back to the drawing board…or back to Colorado.