IOV Officially Withdraws Incorporation Petition: What’s Next?


As we thought might happen, the local group known as Incorporate Olympic Valley withdrew their petition to incorporate the town of Olympic Valley on Tuesday. The movement was dealt its final blow last week when the Placer County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) commissioners continued to believe that the town would not be viable, even after being presented with plenty of evidence to the contrary from the review completed by the California State Controller’s Office.

Kris Berry, the commission’s executive director, said she struggled to understand the state’s findings, even after meeting with the controller’s office. In the end, she said she continued to support the original conclusion that a town was not financially viable. She recommended that the five-member commission vote against the proposal, a decision that could have come as early as January. She said commissioners indicated at last month’s meeting that they oppose incorporation.

We applaud IOV for it’s frank assessment of the situation in their letter to LAFCO withdrawing their application.

The undersigned are the chief proponents of the pending petition to incorporate a Town of Olympic Valley. With regret, we hereby withdraw that petition. We firmly believe the Town was fiscally viable and would have benefitted not only our community but neighboring communities as well. However, it is clear that the hostility to our proposal from the County and others has made it hard for your commissioners to support our proposal. We will continue our work to increase the quality of life in Olympic Valley and throughout the North Tahoe region.   – Fred Ilfeld, Rick Sylvester and Tom Day of Incorporate Olympic Valley

Just in case you forgot who the “others” were, it’s a pretty good bet they were referring to Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and KSL Capital. As we have reported, they spent more than $800,000 over the last two years fighting the incorporation effort, under the guise of “Save Olympic Valley”. We expect that number to grow by quite a bit when the new numbers are reported next month. It’s clear that SVSH and KSL Capital were very fearful about losing their cozy relationship with Placer County and Placer County is fearful of losing millions of dollars in property tax and transient occupancy tax revenue. We can only imagine the back room meetings that took place.

It certainly leads us to ask the question, how can that cash cow, a.k.a. Squaw Valley, that Placer County is afraid of losing not be profitable enough to create a fiscally viable town of Olympic Valley?

The realtors and developers that make up the “Save Olympic Valley” campaign, headed by Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth wasted no time in playing the “I told you so” game. While Wirth made plenty of snarky comments to various media outlets today, as well as sending out another long winded email. He also suggested that this was an opportunity to get the community working together toward a common goal.

We now have the opportunity to move forward in a positive way, and to work together as a cohesive community to maintain our mountain culture and have a dialogue on how we can join together in tackling some of the challenges and concerns that prompted this initiative.   – Andy Wirth, Squaw Valley CEO

I wish we could believe that statement. Andy’s track record of actually working with the community is poor. If you have any doubts, not one promise he has made regarding Alpine Meadows has been honored.

Although Squaw Valley is quick to point out that they have already worked with the community and have reduced the scope of the project by more than half, it really means nothing. That initial proposal was nothing more than a red herring. When Squaw Valley is ready to acknowledge and address the more than 20 “significant and unavoidable impacts” identified in the draft Environmental Impact Report, we’ll believe they are serious about working with the community. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the scale of the current proposal needs to slashed again if they really intend to arrive at a solution that meets everyone’s needs. As a community, we need to find new ways to hold Wirth accountable.

One major concern is that Placer County seems to have their head in the sand when it comes to understanding public opinion about the Village at Squaw Valley project. Several Placer County officials have been caught repeating Andy’s line that “the public is now in support of the proposal.” We would assume that they got that message by reading that astroturfed piece in the Auburn Journal. If Placer County officials cannot figure out that was a bunch of hogwash, we should be very concerned.

As a community, we need to continue to educate the Placer County Board of Supervisors that we are not satisfied with the current proposal, and we will continue to do what it takes to protect Squaw Valley and entire Tahoe region from over-development.

At last night’s IOV community meeting, several people suggested that the next attempt at incorporation should include a larger area. Those areas could include Alpine Meadows, Tahoe City, the west shore, Kings Beach, and even the Northstar and Martis Camp region. The town of “North Lake Tahoe” surely makes more sense than governance by a county on the other side of the Sierra crest that is addicted to the cash flow coming from the Tahoe region. In the long term, it’s an idea to consider. in the short term, we need faster action.

Two different groups are already involved in working to protect from overdevelopment in Squaw Valley. Both invited concerned citizens to join their movements this evening.

FriendsOfSquawValleyLogo1David Stepner, of Friends of Squaw Valley, reported that his group had seen some success in working with Squaw Valley in getting some concessions made in the project. In particular, the Squaw Valley Design Review Committee was able to get some agreements this year on reducing the height of some buildings in the proposed village, and addressed some issues with minor details in setbacks, lighting and building materials. Stepner feels that continuing to work with the developer will ultimately lead to the quickest solution that works for everybody. More information about Friends of Squaw Valley can be found at their website and on their Facebook page

KeepSTTom Mooers, Executive Director of Sierra Watch, also invited the crowd to get involved with their “Keep Squaw True” campaign. Sierra Watch has been very active in holding developers accountable in the Sierra Nevada. The group was formed in 2000 to bring communities together in protecting Martis Valley, Donner Summit and Dyer Mountain (near Lake Almoner). Most recently, the team of analysts from Sierra Watch did a spectacular job of developing community awareness of the many issues raised by the draft Environmental Impact Report for the Village at Squaw Valley project. We have no doubts that we will be doing everything we can to work with Sierra Watch in protecting the North Tahoe region for everyone. For more information on Sierra Watch, check their website or their Facebook page.

We encourage you to say on your game with helping determine what level of development is appropriate for Squaw Valley. The future of Tahoe should be in the community’s hands, not some out-of-state private equity firm that has shown their true colors by spending over $800,000 to disrupt the democratic process.

Order your Keep Tahoe KSL Free stickers here.


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