Final Hearing on Squaw Proposal, Nov. 15th!

It’s time to stand up for Tahoe and Keep Squaw True!

The Placer County Board of Supervisors will hold their public hearing on proposed development in Squaw Valley on Tuesday, November 15. This is the decision we have all been waiting for, so if you care about the future of North Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and Squaw, it’s time to get involved!

What: Placer County Board of Supervisors’ Public Hearing
on proposed Squaw Valley development

 

When: Tuesday, November 15, 2016
—- 9 a.m.

Where: North Tahoe Event Center
8318 N. Lake Blvd.
Kings Beach, California

To reserve your t-shirt and RSVP, contact Chase Schweitzer, our intrepid Field Representative at cschweitzer@sierrawatch.org or (530) 448-1506, as well as RSVP on the Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1798335487081982/
If you cannot attend but would like to get further involved, please contact him as well.

Pictured: Keep Squaw True supporters at the Placer County Planning Commission in August

The reason for having a public hearing is simple: so decision makers can hear  from the  public.

That means this is our chance to put on our purple Keep Squaw True t-shirts and let the Board know that KSL’s proposed development threatens everything we love about our mountains; Tahoe deserves better; and they should vote to DENY the project. Read Dr. Robb Gaffney’s letter explaining why you need to get further involved: http://unofficialalpine.com/?p=11563

Background
The “Village at Squaw Village Specific Plan” proposes to remake Squaw Valley with development of scale and type never before seen in the Tahoe Truckee Region.

Pictured: September issue of Moonshine Ink

Pictured: September issue of Moonshine Ink

 

The billion-dollar, twenty five year development plan would include:

¤ 1,493 new bedrooms spread among a series of highrise condo hotels (many of which would still be nearly 100’ tall) adjacent to the existing village;

¤ 90,000 square foot indoor waterpark with waterslides, indoor waterskiing, wave riders, fake rivers, bowling, arcades, and more; and
 
 
 
¤ 21 timeshare mansions on undeveloped land in the mouth of Shirley Canyon.
 
Pictured: Great Wolf Lodge, Potential Partner in Squaw Valley Waterpark

Pictured: Great Wolf Lodge, Potential Partner in Squaw Valley Waterpark

And what would all that development mean to Squaw Valley and North Lake Tahoe?

¤ Traffic: The project would add 8,410 new daily car trips on North Tahoe’s most gridlocked days.

¤ Tahoe: Many of those cars – 1,353/day – would head into the Tahoe Basin, crowding North Tahoe roads and contributing directly to the loss of the lake’s famous clarity.

¤ Water: Proposed development would consume 78,263,299 gallons of water annually; the local water agency is already looking to import water from Martis Valley due to limited supply.

¤ Fire Safety: Planning documents acknowledge the disastrous impossibility of trying to leave Squaw Valley in the event of wildfire, estimating it would take 10.7 hours to evacuate at full capacity.

¤ Workforce Housing: The project would make Tahoe’s affordable housing crisis worse by providing employee housing for only a small percentage of its employees (many warehoused in four-to-a-room, dormitory-style housing).

¤ Mountain Character: The proposed development is a clear threat to mountain views, dark night skies, and the valley’s essentially alpine character – calling for six acres of nearly 100-foot tall buildings.

 
¤ Olympic Heritage: The project would demolish two of the three remaining buildings from the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley.
 
The California State Attorney General has joined us in taking a stand against the project:  “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.”
 

The Movement
So far, as part of the campaign to Keep Squaw True:

¤ More than 4,500 individuals have signed our petition to Keep Squaw True.
 
 
¤ A massive write in campaign to the Placer County Board of Supervisors  — click here to write in: https://www.sierrawatch.org/keep-squaw-true/action/
 
 
¤ More than 300 private citizens, regulatory agencies, neighboring jurisdictions, and conservation organizations wrote letters to Placer County during last summer’s public comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Report
 
Pictured: Keep Squaw True’s Robb Gaffney

Pictured: Keep Squaw True’s Robb Gaffney

 
¤ More than 60 local businesses, in Tahoe City, Kings Beach, and Truckee, have joined in as well – recognizing the proposed development as a threat to not only their quality of life but, also, their economic viability.
 

 

The Public Hearing
The hearing on November 15 represents the last stop in Placer County’s public planning process.  In other words, if you want to get involved, now’s the time.

We’ll be working to turn people out to the hearing and organize clear, strategic presentations to the Supes.

If you think you can join us, please contact Sierra Watch Field Reprsentative Chase Schweitzer via email at cschweitzer@sierrawatch.org or at (530) 448-1506.

If you want to get involved prior to the meeting, we’ve got plenty of work to do – please ask Chase what you can do to Keep Squaw True!

Keep Squaw True Happy Hour at Fat Cat, Oct. 25 in Tahoe City

fat-cat-logo1 KST_High Res_Skier

Come join us Tuesday, Oct. 25th from 5:30pm to 7pm at Fat Cat Bar & Grill, in Tahoe City

for the HAPPY HOUR TO KEEP SQUAW TRUE

Come to our happy hour to benefit the movement to Keep Squaw True. Enjoy food and drink specials with people who care about the future of our area! A portion of sales will go toward Sierra Watch’s work to protect the communities of North Lake Tahoe and Truckee!

Also expect rad door prizes:

– Sweet gear from local shops
– Signed copy of “Squallywood,” by Dr. Robb Gaffney with an automatic +1,000,000 G.N.A.R. points
– Signed poster of “G.N.A.R. The Movie”
– And of course, Keep Squaw True t-shirts!

Right now, Squaw Valley and North Lake Tahoe face development of a size, scope, and scale our region has never before seen, affecting everyone that calls this North Lake Tahoe home.  Indoor water-parks, time-share mansions in Shirley Canyon, and some of the biggest high-rises Tahoe has ever seen threaten everything we love about Squaw. Impacts such as traffic will extend far beyond the valley. Sierra Watch staff will be on hand to answer any question you may have about how to get more involved.

 

Fat Cat Bar & Grill is located in Tahoe City, CA.

Address:

 

For more info or to RSVP to the event, check out the Happy Hour Event on Facebook, or contact Chase Schweitzer at (530) 448-1506 or cschweitzer@sierrawatch.org.

Debunking "The Facts About The Village at Squaw Valley Redevelopment Plan"

Isaac Silverman, Sierra Watch Staff Attorney

I started working for Sierra Watch in 2014. Since then, I’ve spoken to thousands of people about the development proposed for Squaw Valley. Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of people think that building acres of condo hotel highrises and a massive indoor water park in the middle of Squaw Valley and siting 21 timeshare mansions in the mouth of Shirley Canyon is a bad idea.

They know that the mountain environment that makes this place so special, not to mention our limited transportation infrastructure, simply can’t handle the impacts that would result from adding 1500 new bedrooms and thousands of daily car trips to our roads. This much is clear from the record breaking public response to the project’s draft environmental report, the Squaw Valley Municipal Advisory Council’s vote against the project, the more 70 local businesses who have asked the county to reject it, and the more than 200 people who have written letters to the Placer County Supervisors not to mention the over 3,600 people who have signed our petition to Squaw True.

Still, there are some people who, for a variety of reasons ranging from naked economic self-interest to a genuine belief in the vision of transforming Squaw Valley into an international megaresort similar to Vail or Whistler, think that KSL Capital Partners’ plan makes sense. And you know what? That’s ok. They, as the saying goes, are entitled to their own opinion.

What they aren’t entitled to are their own “facts.”  At least not if they are the same set of misleading statements, irrelevant half-truths, and outright falsehoods contained in Squaw Valley’s July 27 press release entitled “The Facts About the Village at Squaw Valley Redevelopment Plan.”

There is simply too much at stake for Squaw Valley, and for the entire North Lake Tahoe Truckee community.

With that in mind here are a series of claims made in the latest press release from KSL Capital Partners’ prized Squaw Valley asset:

KSL Claim: “After five years, over 400 community meetings, four significant project reductions and one of the most comprehensive plan studies in the history of Placer County, The Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan has seen significant change over time. The project has been reduced by 50 percent since inception, and is just 38 percent of what is allowable per the Squaw Valley General Plan and Land Use Ordinance.”

While some of these claims are technically accurate, or at least impossible to authoritatively refute, all of them are either misleading, irrelevant, or both.  

First off, it has in fact been more than five years since KSL Capital Partners purchased Squaw Valley in 2010. They first floated a proposal that was even more absurd than what we see today, and then quickly pulled it once it became the subject of virtually universal condemnation and ridicule not long thereafter. That of course, is irrelevant. The important question is whether the plan that is before us now is a good one – not how it compares to their own failed proposals.

And it’s also misleading to imply that many concerns have been addressed. This is not the case, as the overwhelming opposition from local businesses, organizations, and individuals is to the plan before the commission right now, not the even less realistic proposals that have been proposed, and quickly dropped, between 2011 and 2014. As far as community meetings go, KSL likely includes meetings with Sierra Watch in their grand total. But those discussions had no impact on the proposal. To imply that our input, or that of the 399 other people who met with with KSL, was incorporated into their current plan is frankly ridiculous.

Bottom line: the basic features of the current proposal have not changed significantly since January of 2014, and it is the only proposal that has undergone any environmental review. As the public and elected officials approach next steps in the project review process, the following are the facts with regard to common questions about The Village at Squaw Valley redevelopment plan:

KSL Claim: “The Village at Squaw Valley redevelopment project will provide new on-site lodging opportunities for guests who would rather stay in Squaw Valley than drive from other lodging destinations, removing upwards of 2,000 skiers/riders from the road on peak days.”

There is no support for this contention. The environmental impact report prepared by Placer County concluded that the project would have multiple significant and unavoidable impacts on traffic in Squaw Valley, Tahoe City, Truckee, and SR 89 that connects all three.  (DEIR at 2-4).

That report also determined that the project would generate an average of 3,200 daily vehicle trips and as many as 8,410 vehicle trips in Placer County on peak days. Independent analyses suggest that this is likely far too low as the County’s report is based on flawed assumptions, including, for example, that the proposed indoor water park would generate only 10 total trips during its busiest hour of operation (Table 19-8 of the DEIR).

KSL Claim: “The plan will commit $20 million in one-time and annual fees to transit initiatives, including electric in-village shuttles, alternative-fuel in-valley shuttles and enhanced regional transit initiatives, representing Olympic Valley’s largest transit investment ever.” 

The County’s environmental analysis showed that these efforts would be overwhelmed by the additional traffic the project would generate, and gridlock throughout Olympic Valley would only increase. (DEIR at 2-4).  An examination of the recently approved Development Agreement shows that most of this money is simply required “fair share” fees required to make sure that increased demand from the project wouldn’t make current service worse or mitigation measures required by the California Environmental Quality Act.  Only $97,500 /year (roughly $3 million spread over 30 years) would help close the $3 million/year local transit vision funding gap or the $1.75 billion/year countywide budget gap for Placer County transportation and transit.  (Staff Report at 67). 

KSL Claim: “Congestion on peak days is a regional issue, and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has and will continue to serve as a leader for solutions and progress: In addition to at least $125,000 that Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows contributes annually to regional transit initiatives, the resort utilized $285,000 for traffic control within Squaw Valley during the 2015-16 season, operating a successful three-lane model on a total of 44 high traffic days. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has initiated discussions with local traffic management agencies on solutions for Highway 89 congestion for which the resort would assist in funding.” 

Squaw Valley’s traffic control efforts have been spotty and ineffective at best. Numerous comments from local residents in the official environmental record attest to this fact. This excerpt from Charles Luckhardt’s comment, found at 3.2.5-577 of the FEIR, is illustrative of the inadequacy of Squaw Valley’s efforts in implementing this strategy:

Luckhardt FEIR Comment

It would be naïve at best to assume that this form of traffic management, which Squaw Valley has failed to successfully implement for Squaw Valley Road – and isn’t even part of their official proposal, would work for Hwy 89.

KSL Claim: “Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is an active contributor to the Sustainable Transit Vision led by the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association as well as the North Lake Tahoe Express Business planning committee.” 

Improvements to regional transit are absolutely necessary and, should the County’s Transit Vision actually be funded and implemented, even provide hope for some relief from North Lake Tahoe’s existing traffic problems. As of June 2016 the North Lake Tahoe Regional Transit Vision faced an annual budget deficit of $3 million.  (Presentation by Placer County to TRPA on June 6, slide 30).  Squaw’s proposed contribution would close 3% of that gap. Countywide, transportation and transit projects face a $1.75 billion funding gap.  Squaw’s proposed contribution closes .17%.of that gap. (Staff Report at 67). Locking in development that would add thousands of cars to the roads would render these transportation fixes meaningless. Doing so before we know whether these visions are more than pipe dreams is beyond foolish.

KSL Claim: “The purpose of the Mountain Adventure Camp is to provide four-season activities, training opportunities for athletes, après ski activities for families and things for locals and resort visitors to do when weather does not allow for on-mountain activities…The plans for the Mountain Adventure Camp are in the conceptual stage, but among its possible activities are fitness training, performing arts, zip-lining, simulated sky diving, swimming, therapeutic pools and rock climbing.” 

It’s a water park.

The application for entitlements asks permission to allow any or all of the allowed uses shown on Table 3.3 on page 3-13 of the Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan. A glance at the list shows that it is dominated by water-based activities like water slides, lazy rivers, action rivers as well as other indoor amusements such as a 30 lane bowling alley, an arcade, and also the activities cited above. Maybe that’s why KSL calls it an “Indoor Waterpark” in their own internal memos. Memos like the one titled “Market Feasibility Study and Financial Analysis Report for the Proposed Indoor Water Park and Adventure Center, Squaw Valley,  Far East Road, Olympic Valley, Placer County, California, prepared by Hotel and Leisure Advisors, July 23, 2013” included in the FEIR at Appendix E.

If that wasn’t enough, it has been repeatedly described by Squaw representatives as a wet amenity to “compete with the lake.” They also revealed that they were, for some time at least, in negotiations with Great Wolf Lodge to operate the water park. Great Wolf Lodge touts its business as “the largest family of indoor water parks with hotels.”

Needless to say the County isn’t fooled either, and their environmental documents determined that the “Mountain Adventure Camp” would consume nearly 33 thousand gallons of water per day. (See Table 1 of Updated Water Demand Calculations: Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan, found in Appendix A to the Water Supply Assessment 2015 Update prepared by the Squaw Valley Public Service District).  That would be a lot of water for a  rock climbing wall, a training center, and some zip lines.

If any doubt could remain, Chevis Hosea, Vice President of Development for Squaw Valley Real Estate, stated at the June 2016 Squaw Valley Municipal Advisory Council meeting on the proposed project that the 96’ height of the building was in order to accommodate a “slide tower.” That slide, notably, would be among the tallest indoor waterslides in North America.

KSL Claim: The Mountain Adventure Camp is designed to be 96 feet tall at its tallest portion, comparable to a 6-story building, which spans only half of the structure.

This is misleading. Wikipedia defines a story as “around 10 feet.” Similarly, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat utilizes a 3.1 meter, or 10.17’, height assumption for each floor of a residential/hotel building. At 6 stories the floors of the 96’ tall building would have to average 16’.

KSL Claim: Of the 93 acres proposed for redevelopment, only 12 acres will be dedicated to buildings.

This is flatly inconsistent with their application to Placer County. Appendix B of the proposal identifies each lot slated for development, how large each lot is, the percentage of “open space” it must include, and the percentage of building coverage it would permit.

These figures identify nearly 50 acres that would be developed with either buildings, parking lots, walkways, or other industrial facilities (like a propane tank farm). Of that acreage , the plan calls for, at least 28 – not 12 – acres of allowable hardscape development (buildings and associated hardscapes).

It’s also misleading because claiming credit for leaving large portions of the plan area unbuilt is silly when you understand the features of that land. Much of the remaining acreage in the 93 acre plan area cited above is either Squaw Creek or an associated wetland or riparian area (lots 23-26), simply too steep to build on (lot 29), or in an avalanche hazard zone (lots 20 and 21). These are all areas where environmental and public safety laws, along with common sense, make development virtually impossible. The only potentially developable land that would actually be left more or less untouched are lots 44, 45, and 37, creating a small buffer zone between the proposed employee housing, shipping and receiving center, and convenience store on the east parcel, and the existing adjacent residential neighborhood.

For an overall schematic of lot locations, necessary to understand how the 93 acre claim is so egregiously misleading, see page B-21 of the Squaw Valley Specific Plan. For the lot sizes and coverage limitations see pages B-22 through B-48. All of the building coverage and open space figures were calculated from the information contained in these diagrams.

KSL Claim: The tallest buildings in the plan are 96 feet tall, comparable to a six story building. Buildings are designed to be varying in height and non-imposing, with step downs on building wings and in areas adjacent to existing village buildings to create a blended appearance. Most existing village buildings stand at four stories tall.

(See above for why ‘six story’ is a misleading measurement of the height of proposed buildings.)

KSL Claim: “The entitlements for the project would permit redevelopment over a 25-year period, however actual construction will require significantly less time and would be intermittent rather than ongoing.”

We didn’t make up the 25-year timeframe. It’s in the Draft EIR: “The Specific Plan would be developed over an estimated 25-year buildout period”, (Draft EIR at p.3.33); the Draft EIR also points out that construction would happen day and night. Now, it turns out that it may not be a 25 year buildout after all–based on the recently released development agreement calling for a 20 year development period with two automatic five year renewals, it could actually be 30 years of construction instead. That multi-decade timeframe is not only a reminder of how long construction would intrude on the peace and quiet of Squaw Valley and North Lake Tahoe. It’s also an indication of just how big this proposal is.

And it’s important to note that there are absolutely no requirements in the plan concerning the pace of construction over the buildout period. Although it is not certain that construction would in fact be constant every summer for 20 to 30 years, that scenario would in fact be permitted. And even a best case scenario of multiple several year bursts of construction broken up by a year or two of downtime would be incredibly disruptive to residents and guests.

KSL Claim: The Squaw Valley Public Service District’s Water Supply Assessment indicates that there is enough water in the basin directly under The Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan property to serve both the project and the future cumulative demand within Olympic Valley. 

This study is based on historical weather data that does not incorporate anticipated climate change hydrology in analysis and on a model based on unrealistic recharge and conductivity assumptions. Even if it were a perfect model, it is concerned solely with whether wells will be able to produce water, and it doesn’t attempt to address what impact pumping this groundwater would have on Squaw Creek, the associated meadow, or the Truckee River. It tries to say whether it is possible, but provides no information on whether it’s a good idea or not.

KSL Claim: Additionally, The Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan has helped advance the most extensive and comprehensive body of science to date in evaluating water in Olympic Valley. More is understood and known today than ever before.

Unfortunately, no credible analysis was done to show what proposed groundwater pumping would mean for Squaw Creek or the associated meadow. The creator of the model used for that purpose, Derrick Williams, stated flatly at a meeting of the Squaw Valley Public Service District that it was not “designed or calibrated” for that purpose.”  (SVPSD Board Meeting Minutes July 28, 2015).

KSL Claim: There will be no change in the number of parking spaces available at the resort.

This is simply not true. As anyone who has been to Squaw Valley on powder day knows, for good or ill, there are many informal parking spaces that are used by resort guests.  Even Chevis Hosea, vice president for development for KSL’s Squaw properties, has stated repeatedly that approximately 5,000 cars squeeze into the existing lots. The current plan calls for 3,100 parking spaces. The rest will no longer be available, covered instead with buildings. And an already untenable situation, one that led officials to close Squaw Valley Road on a busy day this season after a lack of available parking led to gridlocked traffic blocking SR 89, would become worse.

KSL Claim: The project will create new on-site lodging, recreation opportunities, year-round local jobs and on-site affordable workforce housing while rehabilitating Squaw Creek and providing over $22 million in annual tax revenue to help fund public services including schools, road improvements, transit services and public safety. 

Many of these claims are based on a financial analysis that was only made public a few days ago and we haven’t yet had time to verify them.  Still, one thing is absolutely clear–the project would exacerbate, not improve, the region’s affordable workforce housing problems.

The project is expected to generate 574 full time equivalent positions. Due to the seasonal nature of resort employment, that means it will require many more than 574 people, each working part time or for part of the year, to reach that total. The county’s analysis puts this figure at 751. In contrast, the project would demolish an existing 99 bedrooms of employee housing and construct 50 units of new dorm style housing, enough for 252-300 (depending on how many couples share the planned studios and how many they can pack into each dorm room) employees. At best, it would provide a net of 201 units for 751 employees, and the reality is almost certainly far more grim. These statistics are available on page 3.2.3-6 of the Final Environmental Impact Report and 9-34 of the Draft Report.

And what about broader impacts on the North Tahoe economy? Development of this scale poses a clear threat to existing business – that’s one reason why more than 60 small business owners in North Tahoe have signed a letter urging Placer County to deny the project.

 

If you have questions or comments, or just want to get further involved in advocating for a more responsible development in Squaw Valley than the one currently being proposed by KSL Capital Partners, contact Isaac via email at isilverman@sierrawatch.org.

Help Keep Squaw True, August 11 at the Placer County Planning Commission

Get stoked like this kid!

Get stoked like this kid!

What: Placer County Planning Commission meeting to decide the future of Squaw Valley and North Lake Tahoe!

When: Thursday, August 11, 10:00 am

Where: North Tahoe Event Center, Kings Beach (free parking, get there early!)

RSVP: Email Field Representative Chase Schweitzer

The Specifics: The Placer County Planning Commission will hold their public hearing on whether or not to recommend approval of KSL Capital Partners’ proposed development for Squaw Valley.

During the meeting, they will vote on whether the County should put KSL’s bottom line over the  everyday quality of life in the North Lake Tahoe-Truckee Region.  It’s time to stand together and tell them that creating more gridlocked traffic and dangerous fire evacuation paths, straining local water supplies, and threatening the clarity of Lake Tahoe – even undermining regional plans to combat climate change – is a non-starter!

To be clear, KSL is still proposing:

  • A massive indoor water-park, ten stories tall and as wide as a Walmart, with room for one of the tallest indoor water slides in North America.
  • Acres of new high-rise condos and hotels that would dwarf the existing village, block mountain views, and cover the entire parking lot with buildings and garages.
  • 21 Timeshare mansions in the mouth of Shirley Canyon.
  • ~1,500 new bedrooms and more than 200,000 square feet of new commercial space.

All told, the development would be so big they would need 25 years to build it − 25 years worth of construction, noise, and traffic. The stakes couldn’t be higher, so stand with your friends and neighbors to ask the commissioners to KEEP SQUAW TRUE!

Meeting address: North Tahoe Event Center,

RSVP, then let your friends and neighbors know that you plan to stand up for Squaw. Clicking the paper airplane below and sharing our film via Facebook and email is a great way to let folks what is going on.

Keep-Squaw-True from Sierra Watch on Vimeo.

To RSVP, or if you have any questions, contact Chase Schweitzer, Sierra Watch Field Representative, at (530) 448-1506 or via email.

See you there!

Become a Keep Squaw True Outreach Associate

OPENING: Outreach Associate

Sierra Watch seeks an Outreach Associate with a passion for conservation advocacy and the Tahoe Sierra to increase awareness and mobilize grassroots involvement for our campaign to Keep Squaw True.

Sierra Watch
Founded in 2001, Sierra Watch has built a remarkable record of measurable success in Sierra conservation. We spearheaded the long-term effort to protect Tahoe’s Martis Valley, played the lead role in turning back irresponsible development on Donner Summit, and now we’re working to protect iconic Squaw Valley. This is an opportunity to play a key role in what is shaping up to be the biggest conservation issue in the Sierra Nevada, while also learning about environmental and land-use policy at the local levels of government.

Keep Squaw True Outreach Associate

The Keep Squaw True Outreach Associate will work primarily out of our Squaw Valley Field Office at the intersection of Alpine Meadows Road and Highway 89, working closely with Sierra Watch’s Field Representative and Staff Attorney.

 This is a temporary, part time (+/- 20 hr/week), position starting in May and expected to end in August.  Hours are flexible but varied, and the Outreach Associate will be expected to attend events collaboratively scheduled with Sierra Watch staff, including some evening and weekend commitments.

Pay is $12/hour.  Sierra Watch will reimburse the Outreach Associate for work related expenses.

This position does not offer paid time off or health benefits.

Tasks and Responsibilities

The outreach intern will play an important role in implementing the grassroots component of Sierra Watch’s overall strategy to Keep Squaw True by assisting Sierra Watch staff with a wide array of grassroots tactics.

Specific tasks will depend on campaign needs but are likely to include:

  1. Staffing Keep Squaw True informational display at public events.
  2. Gathering signatures for the petition to Keep Squaw True
  3. Distributing Keep Squaw True campaign literature, stickers, t-shirts, hats, and drink cozies.
  4. Coordinating volunteers and supporters engaged in strategic actions such as
    1. Attending public meetings and hearings, contacting decision-makers via telephone or letter, or writing letters to the editor
  5.  Publicizing campaign actions and activities through personal and social media networks

Desired Qualifications

The Outreach Associate is an entry level position that will work in both field and office environments.  Successful applicants will have most or all of the following qualifications:

  1. Undergraduate degree or current study in communications, education, environmental studies, journalism, marketing, public policy, or other applicable field.
  2. Experience in environmental/community outreach, education, or related fields preferred, a desire to work with the public is essential.
  3. Proficiency with Windows Office software package and social media applications including Facebook and Instagram.
  4. Excellent phone demeanor.
  5. Familiarity with the Tahoe Truckee community and local land use and environmental issues.
  6. Position requires an ability and willingness to work outside, with some physical activity such as bending, stooping, lifting and carrying, as well as an ability to lift 30 pounds, and periodically stand for prolonged periods of time at events.
  7. Intern must be able to provide their own car that would occasionally be used for work trips around the Tahoe-Truckee area, and a computer running the Microsoft Office software suite.

Please send a cover letter and resume to cschweitzer@sierrawatch.org.  Applications will be accepted until Monday, April 18.

To download a .pdf of this job posting, click here: Sierra Watch Outreach Associate_Summer 2016

This is Not an April Fools’ Joke

This is not an April Fools’ Joke.  We wish it were.

Because this afternoon – as in April 1 – Placer County posted KSL’s revised ‘Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan’.  And it’s pretty much the same nightmare vision for North Tahoe that KSL has been trying to squeeze into Squaw for the last five years.

You can see for yourself at: http://www.placer.ca.gov/departments/communitydevelopment/planning/villageatsquawvalleyspecificplan

new look same thing

In today’s “revised” version, the total number of bedrooms (1,547) remains the same.  The maximum building height (108 feet) is unchanged.  The proposed indoor water park would still have waterslides, fake rivers, and arcades.

Meet the new plan; same as the old plan.

In spite of hundreds of comments to the County in opposition to the draft plan.  Regardless of the more than 50 local businesses who signed a letter asking the County to deny KSL’s proposal.  In the face of the thousand people who have signed our pledge to Keep Squaw True.

Today’s “revised” plan would still add thousands of cars to Tahoe’s roads, cloud out the stars from our night sky, fill our peaceful valleys with 25 years of construction noise, and threaten the blue clarity of the lake itself.

This, clearly, is not a joke:

VSVSP

Next Placer County will release its Final EIR – the last step in assessing what development would mean to Squaw, Tahoe, and beyond.

Then they’ll begin holding public hearings to get a better understanding of how people feel about KSL’s proposal.

And then they’ll vote.

So, if you care about the future of Tahoe, now’s NOT the time to be fooled.  Now is the time to get involved, sign the petition to Keep Squaw True.

Keep Squaw True Happy Hour at Steamers, Mar.3 in Kings Beach

FB Hoizontal Graphic

Come join us this THURSDAY, Mar.3 from 4pm to 6pm at Steamers Beach Side Bar & Oven, Kings Beach

for the HAPPY HOUR TO KEEP SQUAW TRUE

 

Come enjoy good beer and pizza at Steamers in Kings Beach, as well as rad door prizes:

– Sweet gear from local shops
– Signed copy of “Squallywood,” by Dr. Robb Gaffney
– Signed poster of “G.N.A.R. The Movie”
– And of course, Keep Squaw True t-shirts!

Right now, Squaw Valley and North Lake Tahoe face development of a size, scope, and scale our region has never before seen, affecting everyone that calls this North Lake Tahoe home.  Indoor water-parks, time-share mansions in Shirley Canyon, and some of the biggest high-rises Tahoe has ever seen threaten everything we love about Squaw. Impacts such as traffic will extend far beyond the valley.  Drop by and have a good time with people that care about the culture and environment of North Lake Tahoe. Find out how you can help to make our voices heard!

 

Steamers Beach Side Bar and Oven is located in Old Town Truckee.

Address: 8290 North Lake Boulevard, Kings Beach, California 96143

 

For more info, check out KEEP SQUAW TRUE on Facebook, or contact Chase Schweitzer at (530) 448-1506 or cschweitzer@sierrawatch.org.

Getting rad roadside in Squaw Valley

I’m not sure exactly how cold it was when I pulled into the Squaw Valley post office at 6:30 Sunday morning.  My car thermometer said it was 1 degree, Jen’s car, which pulled in right behind me, thought it was 6 degrees.  Either way, it was the kind of cold that quickly chills most Californians  to the bone.  Robb arrived next, smiling greetings as his breath steamed out from underneath the hood of his down jacket.  He grew up in upstate New York which, at least according to most East Coasters now living in California mountain towns, means that he is impervious to cold.

Shecky, Chase, Lizzie, Kimball, and the rest of the early crew arrived shortly after and we took up positions along Squaw Valley Road.  It was beautiful with tram face and headwall towering above us, imposing in the soft dawn light.
early crew

Temperatures may have been  low but our spirits were high.

In recent weeks most of us had heard versions of the same odd story from Placer County officials and Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, the entity created by KSL Capital Partners to manage their real estate and resort investments in the Tahoe-Truckee region.

That story goes something like this: the developer’s  current application resolves most community concerns about traffic, our environment, our quality of life, and our mountain culture.  This is the application that still includes an indoor water park the size of a small Walmart and 10 stories tall, and 1500 new bedrooms in a series of similarly tall condo-hotel high rises and 35 timeshare home sites in the mouth of Shirley Canyon.

It’s an odd story considering the record 338 local jurisdictions, regulatory agencies, conservation organizations, and individual citizens that submitted written comments on the proposal’s draft environmental impact report.  The overwhelming majority of individuals, 97 percent, wrote to express either outright opposition due to 23 significant and unavoidable impacts of the proposal identified in the report or raise serious questions about the adequacy of the study.  Many comments, including the letter submitted by Sierra Watch did both–opposed the project and pointed out how analyses of traffic, water, greenhouse gas emissions, and many more failed to show just how severely the project would harm our home.

This is the how the community actually reacted to the same application that we’re told addressed our concerns.

Or what about the more than 1,200 people who have already signed our petition to Keep Squaw True?

Do the the more than 40 local businesses and conservation organizations who signed a letter opposing the current proposal matter count?  How about the countless Keep Squaw True bumper stickers we see at Squaw and around town?

This beauty, spotted in Squaw’s parking lot, is a recent personal favorite.Squaw Antler box tight

These people, businesses, and organizations are important representatives of the community. Gridlock, light pollution, noise, a 25 year construction period, water security, and climate change are real concerns that haven’t been addressed.

This false narrative is a big reason that I jumped at the invitation to join a community demonstration in Squaw Valley.

It was a perfect chance to provide living, breathing, proof that our community’s voices are not being heard and to communicate loudly and clearly to locals and tourists alike that Squaw Valley and the Tahoe-Truckee deserve better.

Besides, I spend a lot of my time poring over and writing boring legal and planning documents making sure that if community concerns aren’t addressed we are prepared to challenge illegal approvals in court.   This sounded like way more fun.

It turns out I wasn’t the only one who was fired up.

stoked kid

Before too long, the sun rose over the ridge and our numbers swelled.  We had music to keep us energized but we probably could have just danced to the steady beat of the cars honking in support as they drove past.  Our group peaked at around 30 demonstrators (I was too busy waving a sign for a more precise count) with people filtering in and out to warm frozen fingers and toes.

It was a really good time.

Andy Wirth, the CEO in charge of managing KSL’s investments in Tahoe, even swung by after a few hours and got his picture taken delivering hot cocoa and Starbucks.  It was either a nice gesture or a slick public relations move, maybe even both.

I had a huge smile on my face as he poured my cocoa because, “hey free cocoa on a cold morning!”, but also because the simple fact that he showed up acknowledges the power and importance of our voices.  I wish he’d stuck around a little longer for some real dialogue, or just to hear the cars honking in support.

Still, what Andy did and his motivations for it aren’t that important.  What does matter, what is vitally important, are the decisions Placer County will make in the coming months and years, the ones that will shape the future of this land, this place, and this community that we love so much.

Should we shirley canyon signbuild a massive indoor water park or play in the great outdoors?

Can our environment or our infrastructure handle another 1500 bedrooms and highrises in this little alpine valley?

Is the entrance to Shirley Canyon for hiking or home sites?

Does everything that’s proposed make sense here in the Tahoe-Truckee region?

To many of us these answers are clear, and it is equally clear that disagreements between KSL and the hundreds of people honking their horn in support yesterday will take more than hot chocolate to resolve.

That’s why we’re gathering petitions, signing up businesses and organizations, talking to the Placer County Board of Supervisors, hanging out on the side of the road, and yes, preparing for a legal challenge if all else fails.

I left the demonstration inspired by the tremendous passion of the organizers and fellow demonstrators and reaffirmed in my work by the vocal support of the many passersby.  The burst of petition signatures we’ve seen in response to social media coverage of the demonstration helps as well.

Below is one last group photo snapped as things were winding down (that’s me holding the big Keep Squaw True sign) that shows the late crew and Tram face in all its glory.

Late Crew

I haven’t heard a date just yet, but we all left thinking that it’d be a good idea to do this again soon.

Stay tuned for more information about that and other ways to help.

It probably won’t be quite as cold, but if it is we’ll bring the hot cocoa.

As always, together we can Keep Squaw True.

Isaac Silverman

Sierra Watch Staff Attorney

Shop at Tahoe Businesses that Keep Squaw True

If you’re in Tahoe and need to do some last-minute holiday shopping, how about shopping at local businesses that are standing up to Keep Squaw True?

Pictured: Squaw Valley

Pictured: Squaw Valley

Two weeks ago, Sierra Watch delivered a letter to Placer County officials, signed by more than 40 local businesses and non-profits, who recognize that irresponsible development in Squaw Valley is a threat to the:

“natural resources, recreational opportunities, local businesses, and visitor experience that define life in North Lake Tahoe.”

And they signed their businesses and names onto a clear request to Placer County officials, asking them 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.”

The letter provides another example of how we work together to protect the places we love.

You can read it at: Coalition Letter to Placer BOS Dec8

And it offers a great list of places to shop – and eat:

Tahoe City:

– Alpine Home Furnishings
– Cabin Fever
– Christy Hill
– Pass It On Thrift Store
– Ruffles + Ruffnecks
– Scraps Dog Bakery
– Shredhead Printing
– SiPS Tahoe
– Tahoe City Chocolates and Ice Cream
– Tahoe Furniture Company
– Trunk Show
– Video Stop
– Willard’s Sports Shop

Kings Beach:

– Eddy Bowl (EddyBowl.com)
– Front Porch
– Sierra Shirts and Shades
– Jackpot Vintage and Second Hand Score
– Steamer’s Inc.
– Tahoe Bike & Ski
– Tahoe Central Market
– Tahoe Eco Sports
– The Robins Nest
– Well Being

Truckee:

– Alpine Shipping and Packaging
– Dark Horse Coffee Roasters Truckee
– Dressed Boutique
– Flower Power
– Granite Chief
– Kitsch.
– Mountain Kids- Nomad Boutique
– Paco’s Bike & Ski
– Spice Café
– Split Rock Music Company
– The Cooking Gallery
– The SoulHouse Project
– The Treehouse
– Thrill of the Find “Thrift”
– Totally Board

Happy Holidays – and Let it Snow!

 

 
Post by Tom Mooers, Executive Director of Sierra Watch

Tahoe Businesses Opposing Current Squaw Valley Development

View Update: Updated Coalition Letter of 70 Businesses, Delivered to Placer County, November 14, 2016

MORE THAN 40 LOCAL BUSINESSES AND REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS IN OPPOSITION TO PROPOSED TAHOE DEVELOPMENT

 

Auburn, Calif. – Sierra conservationists delivered a letter to Placer County officials today expressing growing opposition to KSL’s Squaw Valley development proposals.

In a letter to the Placer County Board of Supervisors, more than 40 local businesses and non-profits urge the County “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.”

Placer County has land-use decision making authority over much of North Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley, where KSL Capital Partners is seeking development entitlements for its proposed Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan.

New development would include a series of ten-story tall high rises; 300,000 square feet of commercial development; and an indoor water park with water slides, fake rivers, and indoor sky diving.

New buildings would include more than 1,500 bedrooms.  Proponents estimate that construction would take 25 years to complete.

 

Schweitzer with Sierra Watch Staff Attorney Isaac Silverman moments after delivering the letter to the Placer County Board of Supervisors

Schweitzer with Sierra Watch Staff Attorney Isaac Silverman moments after delivering the letter to the Placer County Board of Supervisors

“There’s a shared understanding throughout the region that KSL’s proposed development is a threat to basic Tahoe values,” says Sierra Watch Field Representative Chase Schweitzer, who delivered the letter to the Placer County Board of Supervisors at its meeting today.  “And there’s a growing commitment to working together to ensure a better outcome.”

Local businesses ranging from snowboard shops to elegant restaurants joined conservation organizations like Sierra Watch and Friends of Squaw Valley in signing the letter.

Sandy Tibbles, for example, owns Scraps Dog Bakery in Tahoe City and expresses concern about the thousands of new daily car trips new development would add to Tahoe traffic.

“Congestion and traffic issues from construction alone would affect all of us,” says Tibble.  “These roadways, especially Highway 89, are like arteries and veins to this region, there is only one way in and out.”

The support of local businesses indicates the strength of a growing movement to turn back the proposed development.  More than a thousand individuals have signed the Sierra Watch petition to Keep Squaw True.  Hundreds of people have already contacted Placer County with their concerns.

“As our letter clearly states,” says Schweitzer of Sierra Watch, “Everyone who signed does not oppose all development.  But the question before us is: do we want this development?  Our answer is no.”

See text of letter below and attached.  For more information about Sierra Watch and its campaign to Keep Squaw True, contact Chase Schweitzer at cschweitzer@sierrawatch.org or (530) 448-1506.

 

Coalition Letter Delivered to the Placer County Board of Supervisors, Dec. 8th, 2015

Updated Coalition Letter Delivered to Placer County, Jan. 26th, 2016

Updated Coalition Letter Delivered to the Placer County, August 11, 2016

Updated Coalition Letter Delivered to Placer County, November 14, 2016

 

About Sierra Watch

Sierra Watch works to protect great places in the Sierra Nevada.  Founded in 2001, the Nevada City based non-profit has built a remarkable track record in land preservation in Tahoe’s Martis Valley, on Donner Summit, and for other treasured Sierra landscapes.