We’ve written a number of articles over the last few months noting that Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth and Squaw Valley Ski Holdings are trying to create the impression that the community supports the proposed Village at Squaw Valley project. It certainly seems like an odd statement to be made after nearly 350 people and agencies questioned the project after the draft Environmental Impact Report was released this summer. It’s the same company that spent roughly $800,000 fighting the community over the incorporation of Squaw Valley.
With the demise of the incorporation proposal this month, there were questions about who might fill the void left in the fight for local control. Andy Wirth even challenged people to start working together to arrive at a solution. Thanks to the efforts of Sierra Watch’s “Keep Squaw True” campaign, that very thing is happening.
Chase Schweitzer, spokesperson for the “Keep Squaw True” movement, delivered a letter to the Placer County Board of Supervisors this week that delivered a clear message that the community does not support the plan, It requested that Placer County officials deny the application from SVSH. The letter was signed not only by leaders from Sierra Watch, it was also signed by 40 other local businesses and groups that have concerns about the proposed project. We are certain that there are many other businesses that would have signed on given the opportunity. Kudos to Sierra Watch and Keep Squaw True for their diligence in protecting the North Lake Tahoe region.
We also have complete respect for these businesses, and the many others we know, such as the UnofficialAlpine.com sponsors, that are willing to stand up for what is best for the entire community and the future of the region.
Here’s the letter in its entirety:
Dear Placer County Board of Supervisors:
We are local businesses and non-profit organizations writing to encourage responsible decision-making for Squaw Valley and the Tahoe-Truckee region. Each of us shares a deep commitment to the natural resources, recreational opportunities, local businesses, and visitor experience that define life in North Lake Tahoe.
Those values, however, are at risk.
KSL Capital Partners is proposing development in Squaw Valley of a size, scale, and scope North Lake Tahoe has never seen.
Their application to Placer County asks for entitlements to develop more than 1,500 bedrooms and the equivalent of four city blocks of 100-foot tall buildings − as well as a 90,000 square foot indoor amusement park with fake rivers, waterslides, an arcade, indoor skydiving, and more.
All told, the project is so big, it would take 25 years to complete.
Squaw Valley is not an island; it’s an integral part of the greater North Lake Tahoe community, economy, culture, and environment. And any development approved for Squaw Valley would impact the entire region:
KSL’s proposal would have unacceptable impacts on our natural resources, including Squaw Creek, Granite Chief Wilderness, our starry night sky, and even the clarity of Lake Tahoe itself.
Proposed development seeks to funnel visitors indoors− to an indoor water park designed to “compete with the Lake”, instead of celebrating and respecting the region’s greatest asset: the great outdoors.
Local businesses, many of which already struggle to survive slow winters and ongoing drought, would be eclipsed by 300,000 square feet of new commercial development.
And the famed Tahoe visitor experience would diminish under the weight of new highrises and the estimated 8,000 new daily car trips they would add to our region’s roads each summer Sunday.
Our opposition to KSL’s proposal is echoed by hundreds of comment letters submitted to Placer County in response to the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report. Of the 338 comment letters submitted by local jurisdictions, regulatory agencies, private organizations, and individual citizens, nearly all − 97% − expressed either outright opposition to KSL’s proposal, pointed out flaws in the environmental analysis, or both.
Those letters represent a widespread understanding of what’s at stake here in North Lake Tahoe and, also, a deep commitment to securing a better outcome.
We do not oppose all development. But the question before us is: do we want this development? Our answer is no.
We urge the Placer County Board of Supervisors to reject KSL’s proposed development and, instead, encourage landowners and the community to work together to create a blueprint that makes sense for Squaw, Tahoe, and beyond.