Andy Wertheim: Development In Alpine Meadows

The proposed White Wolf development (2015 rendering)

Hello Skiers and Riders,

It was another beautiful morning at Alpine Meadows.  Nice groomed runs and plenty of skier packed powder. Most of the snow is still cold and soft.  There were not many people at the area, so lines did not exist.

Another local development plan has been presented to Placer County.  Perhaps some of you will be excited by the proposed development of property known as White Wolf.  This is proposed to be a private 38 lot subdivision with lodge, clubhouse, tennis court, ice skating rink, and ski lift with access to KT22.  The property is located north of the Alpine Meadows Road.  Existing lift towers have been in place for a number of years, but the lift has never been completed.  The obvious idea of this development is to have direct access to both Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley with “ski in” and “ski out” homesites.  It all sounds exciting.

Unfortunately, as a long time resident of Alpine Meadows I must show my opposition to this proposed development.  One of the most beautiful and enchanting views available in Alpine Meadows is of the steep granite walls located on this property.  Views of these granite walls is most dramatic when hiking up the Five Lakes Trail.  In addition, they grow up out of a lovely valley (Catch Valley) also visible from the Five Lakes Trail which has become one of the most used trails in the Tahoe Area.  This development will impede views of a nearly pristine environment visible from an historical trail that has been in use since the 1800’s.

Roads and homes, no matter how inconspicuously they may be designed will destroy a major portion of the enjoyment currently available to hikers.  This is also an entry trail to the Granite Wilderness.  Walking along a trail that abuts a subdivision on the way to a beautiful wilderness is just not necessary.  When are we going to stop destroying our environment.

Must every mountainside, riverbank, and lakefront be developed?  In my opinion, this property should be public open space and not developed at all.  Oh, I forgot that much of this land is in avalanche paths.  You can engineer a building to withstand an avalanche, but you cannot stop the inevitable damage to property and human beings who drive up a road that has had deep natural slides cross its path or bury people out for a walk, snowshoe, or sledding down a hill in the back yard.  This development is located in a dangerous area of Alpine Meadows.  We should learn from past mistakes.

Placer County approved homesites along the main Alpine Meadows Road many years ago that should have been recognized as being in an avalanche prone location.  If it was not known when the original development was proposed, it is now.  Homes and cars have been hit and damaged many times by both natural and man induced snow slides in the past years.  These properties should not have been approved, but they were, and now we deal with it the best we can.  Someday someone will have a terrible end to their life while unloading groceries, walking their dog along the main road on a nice moonlit night, or just driving up the road.  I hope this never happens, but the danger exists.  We now have knowledge and should not build homes and develop property in or near avalanche prone areas.  Here’s a copy of the White Wolf proposal for any of you who are interested in reviewing it.

There are currently two proposed developments in Alpine Meadows both requesting permission for 38 homesites.  The second is the Alpine Sierra subdivision, which is just east of the Subway parking area and White Wolf.  Personally I would rather have 76 condominiums constructed in the existing Subway parking area which could be “ski in” and “ski out”.  They would be on existing destroyed land.  I do not want to see a village or commercial development at the base of Alpine Meadows Ski Area, but I rather see some development at the base of the ski area then see these developments constructed on such special and beautiful lands.

Enjoy your day,

Andy Wertheim

Editor’s note: We will likely be taking a closer look at the White Wolf proposal in the near future as it will tie in with the Base 2 Base Gondola proposal…

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