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Massive Squaw Valley Development Would Affect All of North Lake Tahoe

The proposed development by KSL Capital Partners at a glance.

The proposed development by KSL Capital Partners has changed little from its first iteration.

Folks are rightfully alarmed at what a series of high-rises, an indoor water park, and 30 timeshare mansions in Shirley Canyon would do to Squaw Valley. But the damage wouldn’t stop there.

Every person that lives, works and plays in North Lake Tahoe would be affected by the development in its current form.

When development of this size and scope is proposed for a narrow alpine valley it shouldn’t be a surprise that issues of water scarcity, traffic and safety, and light and air pollution, would spill over and reverberate from Truckee to the West Shore, Alpine Meadows to Kings Beach, and beyond.

Already the Town of Truckee has taken issue with the idea of piping water from Martis Valley to Squaw, when much of that water is intended for its residents. The Truckee River Watershed Council is also of the same mind on this idea.

The California Highway Patrol questions its ability to respond to emergencies when traffic outside of Squaw Valley has barely been considered in the proposal. As fire seasons get worse and worse in the Sierra Nevada, what will happen if the next time the Tahoe Basin is threatened by a major fire on a summer Sunday and evacuation paths are crowded with an additional 8,410 new daily car trips?

CalTrans and Truckee have similar concerns with traffic when circulation has barely been considered in Squaw, let alone the rest of North Lake Tahoe.

Ask yourself, why do you live or vacation up here? Is it to escape from the crowds? A chance to breathe clean air? A chance to glimpse the Milky Way at night?

More lights, more cars, and more construction will only take away from the North Lake Tahoe experience, not add to it. If we wanted to be with the crowds, we could always just head down to South Lake Tahoe. Instead, KSL still proposes to bring the equivalent of three South Lake casinos to North Lake Tahoe and put them next to each other in Squaw Valley.

Development proposed by KSL raises many questions, but the biggest of them all is this: What is the legacy we want to leave in Squaw Valley and North Lake Tahoe?

When we look up at night do we want to see pinpricks of light from distant galaxies or a dull glow from condo high rises?

Do we want to float on Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River under the sun or on a fake river inside an indoor amusement park? KSL’s proposal would compete for scarce water resources and hopes to build “a wet amenity” to compete with Lake Tahoe.

Do we think that every powder weekend and every summer Sunday needs thousands more people on our slopes and on our roads? When KSL’s new high-rises would bring 8,400 new cars to already congested roadways, this affects everyone that drives in North Lake Tahoe and skis at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.

Demand that the Placer County Board of Supervisors reject the current proposal so that this community can create a plan for Squaw Valley that is compatible with North Lake Tahoe’s infrastructure, natural environment, values and way of life.

 

Written by Chase Schweitzer, Sierra Watch Field Representative

Why Our Voices Count On KSL’s Development Plan

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.KSTdrop2

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.

Sometimes it’s as easy as signing a petition or placing a bumper sticker on the back of your car or truck.

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 cschweitzer@sierrawatch.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

SIERRA WATCH WELCOMES CHASE SCHWEITZER TO CONSERVATION TEAM

NEW FIELD REPRESENTATIVE WORKING TO KEEP SQUAW TRUE

Squaw Valley, Calif. – In an effort to further grassroots efforts to Keep Squaw True, Sierra Watch has added Chase Schweitzer as its new Field Representative.

A life-long Squaw Valley snowboarder, Schweitzer brings proven experience in communications, publicity, and volunteer recruitment − as well as a deep personal commitment to North Tahoe − to the Sierra Watch team.

“This is home to me,” said Schweitzer, “so I am fired up to work toward protecting the values that make this special and unique place what it is.”

Pictured: Chase Schweitzer, Sierra Watch Field Representative

Pictured: Chase Schweitzer, Sierra Watch Field Representative

Massive development proposals have made the future of Squaw Valley the biggest development issue facing the Lake Tahoe region.

Denver-based KSL Capital Partners seeks a sweeping set of entitlements for development of a size, scale, and scope Tahoe has never seen.

Their proposal seeks permission to build a series of ten-story tall high rises, including an indoor water park with water slides, fake rivers, and indoor sky diving.  New buildings would include 1,583 bedrooms − as many as three of South Lake Tahoe’s Stateline casinos combined.

The project would be so big, KSL projects it would take 25 years to construct.

Sierra Watch is spearheading a strategic effort to turn back the current proposal.

“Our goal is to convince KSL to pull their current misguided project and, instead, work together on a responsible plan that we can all be proud of,” said Isaac Silverman, Sierra Watch Staff Attorney.  “Chase’s role in mobilizing meaningful public involvement in the planning process will prove fundamental in achieving a better outcome for Squaw, for Tahoe, and for the entire Sierra.”

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about KSL’s proposed development or ideas on how to better Keep Squaw True, feel free to contact Schweitzer via email at cschweitzer@sierrawatch.org or give him a call at (530) 448-1506.

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.

Tom Mooers/Executive Director

Sierra Watch/www.sierrawatch.org