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Planning Commission recommends approval of Village at Squaw proposal

August 11, 2016

At their 8/11/16 hearing, the Planning Commission voted 4-2 to recommend certification the Village at Squaw Valley Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to the Board of Supervisors, and recommend that they approve the Village project by adopting a Statement of Overriding Considerations (which had already been drafted by the Planning Department staff).

First, we want to thank all the community members that attended the hearing. The turnout of project opponents was huge and quite diverse, in comparison to the crowd of proponents, most of whom were employees of Squaw/Alpine who were ”encouraged to attend and show support while on the clock”.

Here is a link to our summary of the Planning Commission meeting, in which we try to be as objective as possible in reporting what happened.

Clearly, the members of the Friends of Squaw Valley were extremely disappointed by the results of the voting for the following reasons:

  • The commissioners downplayed the15 page letter submitted by the California Attorney General’s Office that said that “Because of the proximity of the proposed development to Lake Tahoe, we are concerned about the impacts the development will have within the Tahoe basin” “We are particularly concerned with the project’s resulting increases in vehicular use and traffic within the basin.” The letter stated that the EIR was “insufficient” and concluded the EIR should be revised and recirculated. Click here for the AG letter.

Surprisingly, when the Commissioner Gray asked about this letter, County counsel, Karin Schwab, responded that they had read it, and there was nothing new in it.

We are confident that the letter will play a major role at the Board of Supervisor hearing, and, most likely, in any succeeding legal action.

  • The Planning Commissioners were apparently indifferent to the Squaw Valley MAC’s recommendation to (i) reject the proposed project and (ii) recommend analysis of a smaller scale project. District 5 Commissioner Mickey Gray requested discussion of the SV MAC vote and tried to begin a discussion of a smaller scale project (a modest 25% reduction in bedroom count) but was totally ignored.

Particularly disappointing was Commissioner Sevison, who happens to represent the region East of the Sierra Crest, including Squaw Valley. He voted to certify the EIR and project, while Commissioner Nader, who represents the region West of the Sierra Crest, voted against. His support of the proposal and apparent lack of concern for existing conditions and finding solutions is particularly distressing.

None of the arguments made by the Friends of Squaw Valley or the other groups in opposition to the project seemed to generate any interest, despite the similarity of many of the issues to those of the Martis West project, which was rejected 5-2 by the same Planning Commissioners.

These arguments included:

  • Traffic (already at gridlock; supported by CHP Stonebreaker in very clear words.)
  • Wildland fire evacuation (traffic gridlock on 89 and the “mousehole” has the potential for catastrophe.)
  • Impacts to Shirley Canyon (jeopardy to aquifer recharge zone; toxic chemicals next to Squaw Creek).
  • Peak overnight population (already exceeded by credible analysis)
  • Mountain Adventure Camp (MAC) incompatibility with Squaw Valley culture
  • Visual Obstructions (96 foot MAC is front and center in development, obscures ridgeline and out of place with surrounding buildings)
  • Inadequate on-site employee housing (developer did not live up to their commitment to provide 50% onsite housing).
  • Lack of significant community benefits (substantial money thrown at the County blinded them to environmental impacts and community comments).
  • Water Assessment and the Squaw Valley aquifer (hypothetical wells, predictive groundwater model, no oversight committee to stop development and ensure performance metrics).
  • Request to analyze a smaller project of lesser scope and size.These arguments as well as other issues will all be refined and addressed further at the next Board of Supervisors meeting that agendizes the Squaw project. We will request that the Board of Supervisors mandate a less impactful project.

We do not know, as yet, the date of the Board of Supervisors hearing that will deal with the Squaw Valley project, but we suspect that it will be early in October. We will keep you informed.

Please send your feedback and opinions about this important decision which is likely to determine the future of Squaw Valley to info@friendsofsv.org.