Squaw expected to submit revised plan in mid-December
December 2, 2013
OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Amid continuing feedback, a revised proposal for Squaw Valley's village expansion should be submitted to Placer County next month.
"We've really worked hard to get the input of the whole Lake Tahoe region on our plan, with a real focus on environmental stewardship, family oriented experiences and job creation," said Chevis Hosea, vice president of development for Squaw Valley. "The community has been providing valuable input, and we're considering it as we make revisions."
While it's unclear what exactly those revisions will be, Alex Fisch, senior planner for Placer County Planning Services, said he thinks they will be "notable."
Once the revised plan is submitted — expected in the second week of December — the county will release a notice informing the public of changes, Fisch said.
The current plan outlines the addition of 1,093 lodging units, new commercial space and the year-round indoor activity center "Grand Camp" across 101.5 acres.
Since the application was submitted to the county in December 2011, it's drawn skepticism, as evidenced in results of a recent survey conducted by project critics Sierra Watch and the Friends of Squaw Valley.
Of 220 people who responded to the open-ended question of which factor they least like about Squaw Valley, the proposed village development was the top answer, at 30 percent.
When asked what factor survey-takers like most about Squaw, 34 percent answered "mountains, scenery," 33 percent with "skiing, terrain" and 10 percent said "natural environment," out of 282 responders.
In total, 330 people took the online survey, which was available from May 30 to Aug. 30.
When asked to comment on the survey's results, Hosea said: "To be frank, this is a very limited survey of people who have already been a part of our community input process."
Tom Mooers, executive director of the regional conservation organization Sierra Watch, said while the poll is not scientific, it makes a point.
"The results are heartening and a little inspiring because it shows there's a deep connection to Squaw Valley based on love of the mountains and outdoors, and that those values shouldn't be lost to irresponsible development," he said.
According to previous reports, the development would be built on existing parking lots and disturbed land, and it includes the restoration of Squaw Creek.
Despite that, survey results and prior feedback on the plan is sending a message of "not so fast," Mooers said.
"Those of us who live in Squaw Valley are reminded every day what a special place this is," added Ed Heneveld, chairman of Friends of Squaw Valley, a grassroots group of locals and longtime Olympic Valley residents. "So we're committed to planning carefully for our future."
Moving forward, some elements the Friends of Squaw Valley would like to see in the plan include:
A village that maintains an intimate scale, which prioritizes open space, pedestrian gathering places and mountain views.
A village that serves as a community center, not just a center of a commercial resort.
A village economy that is viable, sustainable and regionally integrative, while not compromising environmental qualities.
"We hope that (Squaw Valley owner) KSL's next proposal demonstrates a new respect for the community it has joined, with a plan that supports the values we hold important," Heneveld said in a statement.
Since the community input process began, Hosea said Squaw has received feedback from more than 5,000 people who have visited Base Camp, the information base for the village project, and from those who've attended more than 300 meetings held by resort officials.