Pictured: Scale Model of Proposed Development

Release: Failed Olympic Valley Development Back to Threaten Tahoe Again

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Contact: Tom Mooers (530) 265-2849 x200 

December 1, 2022


Olympic Valley, Calif. – Placer County released a revised environmental assessment for massive development at Palisades Tahoe, formerly Squaw Valley, yesterday.

The announcement makes official what had been looming over Tahoe for months: resort owners Alterra Mountain Company seek a new round of entitlements for the same plan they first proposed more than ten years ago—with the same destructive impacts to Tahoe, according to planning documents.

Pictured: Olympic Valley and Palisades Tahoe

Pictured: Olympic Valley and Palisades Tahoe

Alterra’s plan to remake the mountain playground with a series of highrise condos, a roller coaster, and an indoor waterpark have made Olympic Valley, formerly Squaw Valley, the biggest conservation battleground in the Sierra this century.

Thousands of volunteers have been involved in an effort to stop the development and Keep Tahoe True.  Regional conservation group Sierra Watch secured a court order to wipe out previous approvals, made in 2016.  But Alterra continues to push its speculative scheme to transform Tahoe with Vegas-style attractions.

“Alterra’s relentless effort to force its reckless development on the Sierra is an insult to anyone who lives, skis, or plays in Tahoe,” says Tom Mooers, Executive Director of Sierra Watch.  “Our community and our mountains deserve better.”

At a Town Hall meeting in Olympic Valley in May, Dee Byrne, Alterra’s President of Palisades Tahoe, had claimed there is “not enough to do” in Tahoe and said Alterra would apply for a new set of entitlements.

Under state planning law known as CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, Placer County is required to assess what the development would mean to the region and its traffic, fire safety, water supplies, and visual resources.

Details about Alterra’s proposal, and a draft review of its impacts on Tahoe, are available at: Village at Palisades Tahoe Specific Plan

Development would include a series of 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.

 Pictured: Scale Model of Proposed Development

Pictured: Scale Model of Proposed Development

The main attraction would be a 90,000-square-foot indoor waterpark with artificial rivers, indoor water-skiing, video arcades, and North America’s tallest indoor waterslide.

The project would add 274,000 square feet of commercial development—enough to build a mall covering more than five football fields—further exacerbating the region’s workforce housing crisis.

According to planning documents, the project would make Olympic Valley a construction zone for 25 years.  It would add 3,300 new daily car trips to Tahoe traffic.  And it would draw 78,263,299 gallons of water annually from the local watershed.

Placer County will accept comments on the Revised Draft Environmental Impact through January 30, 2023. 

Comments can be mailed to:

          Placer County Community Development Resource Agency

          Environmental Coordination Services

          3091 County Center Drive, Suite 190

          Auburn, CA 95603; or

          emailed to cdraecs@placer.ca.gov

In 2015, the last time the County collected comments on the plan, hundreds of citizens submitted letters—95% expressed opposition.

Conservationists, successful in stopping the development so far, remain committed.

“More than 20,000 people have joined our movement to Keep Tahoe True,” says Mooers.  “And if it takes another ten years of grassroots commitment to defend our mountain values, so be it.  Tahoe deserves no less.”


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.  For more information, visit www.sierrawatch.org.