Opinion: Martis Valley West, Brockway Campground projects are insanity
July 6, 2016
Lake Tahoe, Truckee and Martis Valley are being used as a cash cow for Placer County at the life-threatening expense of residents, visitors and the lake.
One day, a wind-blown wild fire will surely enter the Tahoe Basin. Where will you go … how does anyone fleeing for their life realistically plan to get out of here if the North Shore and it's only two escape routes are gridlocked?
I have been in the midst of a 100,000-acre, wind-blown wildfire. Here's a reality of emergency evacuations from wind-blown wildfires — few things go according to plan. People panic, and wind-blown wildfires aren't predictable.
I spent the better part of three days and nights moving horses during this fire. One minute the fire line could be a mile away; a few minutes later, I was in a hail storm of windblown embers landing all around me while embers were blowing past me faster than I could run or drive.
The ground got so hot I couldn't stand still and every time I tried to inhale I wasn't sure my lungs wouldn't explode from the heat. Then it got worse.
Now, envision a windblown wildfire of that, or greater magnitude on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe with only two, single-lane, canyon escape routes. There is Hwy 89 to the west and Hwy 267 to the east, both single-lane, canyon roads surrounded on both sides by drought-stricken, explosive pine trees.
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Various government agencies such as TRPA, Washoe County, Placer County and the town of Truckee are currently in process of reviewing or have approved applications of a number of new developments in our region, including: Village at Squaw Valley, Homewood, Boulder Bay, Highlands II and III, Railyard, Joerger Ranch, Brockway Campground and Martis Valley West.
Mountainside Partners (formerly East West Partners, notably bankrupt at the Ritz, Old Greenwood and Grey's Crossing at one point) is ramrodding, and so-far successfully fast-tracking, a proposed 760-unit gated development adjoining their also-proposed 550-space campground.
Both of these proposed developments — the 550-space Brockway Campground and the adjoining 760-unit gated Martis Valley West development — parallel the west side of Hwy 267 from the ridgeline, including into the Tahoe Basin for the campground project.
Martis Valley West developers claim their emergency evacuation model shows an orchestrated emergency evacuation time of 1.3 hours.
There is simply nothing orderly about a wind-blown wildfire. Let us consider reality — thousands of fleeing residents and visitors chased by burning embers and exploding trees from all around the North Shore, including the communities east of Tahoe City, like Dollar Hill, Dollar Point, Cedar Flat, Tahoe Vista, Carnelian Bay and Kings Beach, perhaps even residents and visitors from Crystal Bay or Incline Village, rushing toward Hwy 267.
Now add hundreds of out-of-area campers staying at the Brockway Campground with their RVs, trailers and boats. All it will take, anywhere along Hwy 267, is a single accident, a stalled RV, a jack-knifed boat and everything will come to a life-threatening onslaught of stalled humanity being pushed from the rear.
Hwy 267 will be a death zone. This is North Shore Emergency Evacuation reality … and this is the very reality Placer County is fast-tracking toward approval — common sense, safety and wellbeing be damned!
Most notably missing from various public forums are any representatives from the Northstar Fire Department., North Tahoe Fire Protection District, Calfire and Caltrans. How can his be?
The developers are seeking a 20-year building permit for Martis Valley West. They plan to log more than 20,000 trees and move an estimated 11 million cubic yards of earth, absolutely decimating natural wildlife corridors.
These developments, Martis West and Brockway Campground, are insanity. The irreversible threat to the environment, the displacement of established wildlife corridors, the threat to public safety and the threat to Lake Tahoe itself from the added carbon emissions from gridlocked traffic should surely be evidence enough to sway our supervisors, planners and TRPA toward common sense realities and to stop them from approving of these two insane, destructive and dangerous developments. The entire Lake Tahoe and Truckee areas are already at capacity overload.
Stand up on July 7 at 2 p.m. at the North Tahoe Event Center in Kings Beach at the Placer County Planning Commission meeting and tell Placer County to listen to the people and deny Martis Valley West.
Robert Heinz is a Tahoe City resident and has lived here since 1997.
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