The biggest development threat facing the Sierra Nevada is playing out in Tahoe’s Squaw Valley. And Sierra Watch is engaging thousands of citizen volunteers in a long-term strategic effort to secure our shared Sierra values.
The controversy began when KSL Capital Partners purchased Squaw Valley in 2010, citing the “great growth potential” of its new real estate asset, regardless of the region’s strained traffic infrastructure, Squaw Valley’s limited water supplies, or the area’s increasing fire danger.
In 2015, the private equity firm released its final proposed development plan, asking Placer County for 25 years’ worth of entitlements to transform Tahoe with a project of a size, scale, and scope the region has never seen.
New development would include:
- high-rise condo hotels, many eight stories tall, containing 1,493 new rooms–as many bedrooms as three of South Lake Tahoe’s Stateline casinos combined–over an area greater than six city blocks;
- 90,000-square-foot indoor water park that KSL calls a “Mountain Adventure Center,” standing 96 feet tall with rides and attractions including indoor waterslides artificial rivers, indoor water-skiing, indoor sky-diving, and video arcades; and
- 274,000 square feet of commercial development–roughly three times the current commercial area and enough to build a mall covering more than five football fields.
In response, Sierra Watch launched our campaign to Keep Squaw True.
Thousands of supporters have signed the petition to deny the project. Placer County’s own Squaw Valley Municipal Advisory Council sounded clear opposition, recommending that the County deny it outright. Hundreds of local residents showed up to Placer County’s public hearing and stood in opposition.
Regardless, on November 15, 2016, by a 4-1 vote, the Placer County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the project–with the only ‘no’ vote coming from the Supervisor who represented Tahoe and Squaw Valley.
Those approvals were not only irresponsible; they were illegal. So, a month later, we filed suit, mounting two legal challenges designed to rescind development approvals.
Meanwhile, KSL Capital Partners partnered with Henry Crown and Company to form Alterra Mountain Company, creating a multi-billion dollar behemoth designed to compete with Vail Resorts and sell its own multi-resort “Ikon” ski pass.
As this case proceeds, Sierra Watch continues to build the movement to Keep Squaw True.
Sierra Watch even made our own feature length film, The Movie to Keep Squaw True, directed by Scott and Robb Gaffney, to tell our epic story.
We took it on tour to sold-out audiences in ski towns and cities throughout the American West. And—keep an eye on your inbox—we’ll release it online later this summer.
Our goal in all that we do—whether standing up in court or building grassroots support—is not just to win a lawsuit. Our goal is to get people involved in a long-term effort to secure a great outcome—a vision for Squaw Valley that’s worthy of Tahoe and everything we love about our Sierra.