An Overflow Crowd At The Placer County Supervisors’ Meeting

Photo via Keep Squaw True
Photo via Keep Squaw True

The Placer County Board Of Supervisors met in Kings Beach yesterday to hear updates on a number of development projects around Lake Tahoe. Amongst those that were discussed were the Village at Squaw Valley and the proposed gondola connection between Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley.

According to numerous reports, the meeting was overcrowded, over-filling the meeting room at the North Tahoe Event Center. From the today’s Sierra Watch press release:

…the room was literally overflowing with volunteers wearing Keep Squaw True t-shirts.  At one point, the Chair of the meeting gently interrupted Mooers to ask the crowd to watch the meeting from another room − in order to avoid upsetting the Fire Marshall.

“They just wanted to make sure that you get a chance to see them,” responded Mooers, “and to let you know how many people are here to stand up for the future of Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe.”

While we have covered all of the details here before, we’re happy to include a letter to the Board, written by Andy Hays of Squaw Valley, and read to the Board at the meeting:

Good Morning,

As I humbly stand before you today it would be easy for me to tell you that this proposal is too vast and too large.  Simply because it is.

It would be easy for me to talk about the fact that this proposal is out of touch with the culture and values of the region as a whole.  Because it is.

It would be quite easy for me to stand before you and point out that this project lacks all sense of imagination, and innovation, that it fails to represent a vision for the future.  On the contrary, it is simply put, a tired and outdated rehashing of virtually every ski resort redevelopment project undertaken in the last twenty years.  Redevelopments, that have undeniably been met with limited success.  Because that’s exactly what it is.

However today I chose to appeal to the board in the universal language, the language of money and revenue.

This parcel represents one of the most valuable assets that the county possesses, and with that asset comes opportunity.  I strongly believe that we owe it to ourselves to ensure that we approve a plan that not only benefits the region in the short term but also provides for the future generations.

In the strongest terms I question the wisdom in granting the applicant’s request for a 25 year development entitlements.  We do not live in a static world, the notion that a project that is approved today, will be representative of the needs of the region a quarter century from now is naive at best and irresponsible at worst.

I ask the board to look deeply, given the specter of climate change, given the fluctuations in trends in the ski and leisure industry, given cultural and economic developments that haven’t even been imagined yet, does this proposal set us up for the future or damn us to be stuck in the past, with an outdated model before it has even been completed?

With a project of this scale, a scale that will unavoidably reshape the character of the entire region, is it responsible to hand over the reins to one unproven entity to define our collective future?

I stand before you and I tell you it is not.  I believe the voices we’ve heard in this room today can be summed up into one ideal.  The people of this community want a bigger voice.  The people of this community want to see a more tempered approach.

The viability of this project should not hinge on being allowed to have free reign for a generation.  Show us results.  Show us tangible benefits.  Show us commitment and allow the community itself to decide if it wants to proceed.  We should not be forced to wait 25 years before we can measure if the promises that have been made along the way have been met.

I believe it is the board’s responsibility to the future of this county and its residents to deny the development agreement for 25 years.  If the developer is choosing to build out in phases, the county should retain the rights of approval for each future step.  The builder cites changes in the industry and changes in the economy.  I believe it is right to anticipate these challenges, and that the rights of the community are best served with the ability to evaluate our future when we get there.

– Andy Hays, Squaw Valley

Kudos is due to everybody that took the time to show up to the Board meeting yesterday.  We need to stand together to protect Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley and the rest of the North Lake Tahoe from over-development.

Update: Our friends over at EcoTruckee.org have posted a great summary of the meeting as well, it includes some video snippets of some of the public speakers that shared their concerns about the Village at Squaw project.

We have to say that the number of large scale projects proposed in the Tahoe region of Placer County is a bit frightening!
We have to say that the number of large scale projects proposed in the Tahoe region of Placer County is a bit frightening!
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