Over and over I meet people that feel like their voice just doesn’t count when it comes to the proposed development in Squaw Valley, and that is just in the three weeks since I began working for Sierra Watch.
The important thing to remember however is that is all KSL’s proposed development is: PROPOSED. It is not inevitable.
Still, many people feel that they have no say in the decision because they ski Squaw but don’t live there. Or they believe that whatever they do, it’s going to happen anyway because of money and politics.
The truth is, this is not the case.
When the Placer County Planning Commission opened up the public comment period on the draft Environmental Impact Report, well over 300 concerned citizens from across North Lake Tahoe and the state wrote in explaining how this monstrosity of a proposal would change everything we love about Squaw Valley. Many of you stated that the development would affect not only Squaw Valley, but all of North Lake Tahoe and everyone that lives in and visits this special place.
And these voices do matter.
Tahoe’s history is full of terrible proposals for the region that have been defeated by public outcry and community. Two of the more ridiculous proposals include an 1865 plan to damn the Truckee River at Squaw Valley and divert water through a series of tunnels and pipes through the Sierra Nevada all the way to San Francisco, the other a scheme to ring Tahoe with 4 lane highway including a bridge over the mouth of Emerald Bay. It’s our job to make sure that KSL’s proposal for an indoor amusement park and acres of highrise condo-hotels joins these ill-fated schemes in the dustbin of history.
Moving forward, there will be many more opportunities both large and small for our voices to be heard as decisions begin to be made.
Sometimes an opportunity will be writing the Planning Commission or a Placer County Supervisor before a decision is made in the coming months, or showing up in a purple Keep Squaw True shirt to one of many county meetings to come.
Or, when you realize that a friend or family member doesn’t know very much about the development, tell them what you know.
Whatever the opportunity, take advantage of it because your voice does count, and as one commenter on the draft EIR stated to the Placer County Board of Supervisors, “we only have one chance to get this right.”
That is why I decided to join Sierra Watch and Keep Squaw True. Squaw Valley is a special place and we need to stand up and defend it. Whether you live, work, or play here, making sure that the voices of the Squaw community are heard is my number one priority. So, you’ll be hearing more from me in the months to come as these opportunities present themselves. And I welcome your ideas as well.
Feel free to call me at (530) 488-1506 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to figure out how you can Keep Squaw True. Come drop by my office at the entrance of Alpine Meadows and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee at the Crest Cafe.
We still have a long way to go in deciding the future of Squaw Valley and North Lake Tahoe. Make sure that you’re a part of it.
Written by Chase Schweitzer, Sierra Watch Field Representative