Opinion: More reasons why Squaw development is a bad idea | SierraSun.com

Opinion: More reasons why Squaw development is a bad idea

In late December, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency sent a letter to Placer County in regards to – and with strong words for – proposed development in Squaw Valley.

TRPA's concern is well-founded. KSL Capital Partners/Squaw Valley Ski Holdings' proposed Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan asks for entitlements for development of a size, scale, and scope North Tahoe has never seen.

KSL's project would include acres of ten-story tall highrises, it would funnel kids into an massive indoor water park, and it would add thousands of daily car trips to our local roads – presenting a direct threat to our region's most basic value: the clarity of Lake Tahoe.

So TRPA has every right to point out that impacts from the development would "reach and extend into the Tahoe Region," which, they remind us, is "one of our nation's greatest treasures."

In its letter, TRPA focuses on the amount of traffic Squaw Valley development would pump into the Tahoe Basin. TRPA measures traffic in "Vehicle Miles Traveled," or VMT.

Increasing VMT would not only be bad because more cars mean more traffic – and less time enjoying Tahoe; more cars in the Basin driving more miles would lead directly to losses in lake clarity.

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That's because the biggest threat to Tahoe's clarity comes from fine sediment particles. The biggest source of fine sediment that gets into the lake is cars travelling local roadways. And the best way to measure those increases is in VMT.

So, when TRPA points out that "the proposed project could increase in-basin VMT…contributing to exceedance of the TRPA's VMT threshold," it is a big red flag for our big blue lake.

By sending that letter, TRPA joins hundreds of individuals and scores of Tahoe businesses have joined us in urging Placer County to Keep Squaw True.

So I'm not alone in expressing thanks to TRPA – thanks for joining the growing chorus calling for a better outcome for Squaw Valley, for the Tahoe-Truckee region, and for the Lake itself.

Tom Mooers

Executive Director, Sierra Watch

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