“As a result of unprecedented community outreach, Squaw Valley has responded to the community’s desire for greater outdoor recreational opportunities and new jobs, and doing so without a material impact on the environment,” said Chevis Hosea, vice president of development, Squaw Valley Real Estate. “With the adoption of new designs and standards, the size of the project has been reduced by more than 50 percent, and more than 80 percent of the project will be built on existing parking lots. Our intention is to continue to engage with the community and to secure North Tahoe’s reputation as a premiere tourist destination for years to come.” – Chevis Hosea, VP SVRE
So what changes were approved by the DRC? We’ve been asking that question around town for the last week, and it turns out, the opinions are quite varied. DRC chairperson David Stepner noted that agreements were reached in to make the Village more open with wider passageways, building step backs, better view lines, and larger plaza areas. Additionally, the height of several buildings was reduced below 100 feet, with the exception of the Mountain Adventure Center, which will still stand at 108 feet.
We have to agree, some of these changes will make for a better experience within the proposed new Village. But many people are contesting Hosea’s claim that there will be no material impact on the environment. The Design Review Committee does not get to review the scale or scope of the project. There is no plan to reduce the number of rooms created, even though Hosea’s statement implies that there have been more reductions. The plan also still includes the widely unpopular Mountain Adventure Center. It’s probably safe to say that the 23 different “significant and unavoidable impacts” identified in the draft Environmental Impact Report still exist.
Sierra Watch spokesperson Isaac Silverman noted that the agreements reached by the DRC will do nothing to materially change the flawed proposal from Squaw Valley:
“The SVRDC’s recommendations, and the minor changes KSL has proposed in response, do not fix, or even address, the fundamental flaws with their proposal. They would still allow KSL to build 1500 new bedrooms contained in a series of high-rise condo hotels, 35 timeshare mansions in Shirley Canyon, and a massive indoor amusement park. The committee’s recommendations would not result in the reduction of single unit or bedroom.” – Isaac Silverman, Sierra Watch
It’s probably worth noting that while 3 members of the Design Review Committee were able to negotiate some concessions in the design of the proposed Village, there were more than 350 citizens, groups and government agencies that expressed concerns about the project during the dEIR process. With 1500 bedrooms still on the table and gridlock conditions forecast to become the norm, it’s no wonder that Squaw Valley is still facing a lot of opposition.
We also take issue with Hosea’s statement that Squaw Valley has been working with the community. We received the latest numbers from Placer County election officials and they show Squaw Valley spent another $70,000 over the last two months fighting the will of the people. The “Save Olympic Valley” campaign, funded entirely by Squaw Valley, has now spent just about three-quarters of a million dollars fighting the community effort to incorporate the town of Olympic Valley. It’s enough to fund the operations of some small resorts for an entire season. You could even buy a small resort in Montana for that amount, and still have some operating capital. It’s no wonder that Tahoe locals are both frustrated and disgusted by the current owners of Squaw Valley, KSL Capital. It’s time for a change.