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End of summer report to Friends of Squaw Valley

September 24, 2016

It has been a hectic end of summer, with three very long meetings – two before the Planning Commission and one before the Board of Supervisors.

MARTIS WEST

First the bad news. Many of you might already know that the Board of Supervisors overturned the Planning Commission’s recommendation to deny the Martis West, and instead approved it by a 4 to 1 margin. The Board seemed immune to any notion of environmental impacts, even saying in the end that they have great faith in their lawyers and do not fear being sued, which is what is likely to happen. During the week before the meeting, the applicant said they would not develop the  campground at the Tahoe Basin ridgeline if the project were approved, and they also agreed to build 47 employee housing units.

Clearly, this BoS decision does not bode well for how the Board is likely to assess the SVSH Proposed Village at Squaw Valley.

REDEVELOPMENT?

KSL argues it is not doing development but rather “redevelopment”, which is somehow more “allowable”. The word redevelopment is a buzzword that has somehow distracted both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors from the true nature of the proposed new developments. While most of the expansion will be on the existing parking lot, significant intrusion into Shirley Canyon is also being sought.

LATEST KSL ARGUMENTS

On the latest iteration of the KSL “Squaw Tomorrow” website they say “The Village at Squaw Valley … proposes redeveloping and completing the unfinished base area village to reestablish the resort as a premier mountain resort destination and ensure it has a sustainable future.” Furthermore, it says “The redevelopment plan is 2/3 less than what is allowable per the Squaw Valley General Plan and Land Use Ordinance.”

We intend to continue to point out several incorrect assertions that the website makes.

  • KSL is doing considerably more than just “finishing the base area village”. We would all be applauding if their plan was solely to complete the unfinished (and essentially uncontested) IntraWest Village. To the best of our knowledge Phases 3 & 4 called for an additional 331 units / 525 bedrooms.
  • Squaw has never ever been a top-rated destination resort. Rather, it attracts scores of loyal skiers who regularly commute from all over the Bay Area, the Sacramento valley & Reno. There already is housing for them in the triangle from Kings Beach to the West shore to Truckee, and hotels and condominiums already in the valley provide at least another 1200 rooms. Even today, on any given day, there are numerous vacancies in the existing IntraWest Village. If these day skiers wanted lodging in close, it is there to rent or purchase.
  • While we will agree that the 1983 Squaw Valley General Plan and Land Use Ordinance did suggest that upwards of 3500 bedrooms could be built, that was speculation from 35 years ago. As evidenced by the 20 remaining significant and unavoidable impacts of the current Specific Plan, a plan of that size would never pass CEQA scrutiny, and the draft EIR said so.
  • And finally, KSL proclaims that they are going to “make Squaw great again”. We contend Squaw is already great! However, given what they are promoting, this huge proposal clearly risks “killing the goose that laid the golden egg”.

HAS OUR REGION’S CARRYING CAPACITY BEEN REACHED?

One of the issues that came to the fore during the Martis West discussions was whether the proposed growth in the North Tahoe area is outstripping the existing supporting infrastructure. The idea was even raised of a  development moratorium until more analysis is done and solutions to existing problems are found. So far, the Supervisors appear to be ignoring this question.

FRIENDS OF SQUAW VALLEY FOCUS

The Friends of Squaw Valley will continue to argue for a smaller scale project along the lines voted on by the Squaw Valley MAC – about 50% of the bedrooms. We will continue to argue the impact of the increased traffic, noise, visual obstruction, wildland fire danger, etc. And, we will continue to make the case that Squaw Valley, while needing improvement of the current village, does not need anything of the size and scale proposed by KSL.

FUTURE HEARING

In the next few months (most likely November), we expect the Board of Supervisors to consider KSL’s Squaw Valley proposal. We will notify you about that hearing and encourage you to not only attend the meeting, but also to write letters to the Board of Supervisors.