Squaw redevelopment: Commission votes 4-2 to recommend approval | SierraSun.com

Squaw redevelopment: Commission votes 4-2 to recommend approval

KINGS BEACH, Calif. — The Placer County Planning Commission voted 4-2 Thursday, Aug. 11, to recommend approval of the proposed redevelopment project at Squaw Valley.

The 10-hour-long hearing of the Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan filled the North Tahoe Event Center well beyond capacity as plenty of residents decked out in white (on behalf of the pro-project Squaw Tomorrow campaign) and purple (of the opposing Keep Squaw True contingent) T-shirts showed up to make their voices heard.

Approximately 100 people signed up to speak during a public comment session that lasted four hours, interrupted only by a single 10-minute break.

The 10-page list of those who spoke included residents, conservation group officials, Squaw Valley employees and professional skiers — all of whom were strictly held to the commission's 3-minute limit.

While other media reports reported that the project's opponents slammed the proposal, as public comments continued into Thursday evening, more supporters came forward, revealing a divided audience.

Several speakers even took their time before the board to ask the community to come together and work toward a compromise.

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The proposal has been hotly debated over the past few years, growing more emotional over the past several months as opponents and supports on all sides of the issue stated their cases.

The commission's vote Thursday — like that of the Municipal Advisory Council in May (which was 3-1 to recommend denial of the project) — serves as a recommendation to the Placer County Board of Supervisors, which holds the final say in the matter.

Thursday's decision cannot be appealed, as it is a recommendation only.

Placer County Spokesperson Chris Gray-Garcia said in an email Thursday evening that there is no date set yet for when the board will hear the Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan.

If the plan were to be approved, 94 acres in Squaw Valley would be transformed into a destination resort village offering numerous resort residential lodging options and amenities.

Thursday's meeting occurred two days after the California Attorney General's Office sent a 15-page letter to Placer County Deputy Planning Director Paul Thompson, along with the county's planning commission and board of supervisors.

According to the letter signed by deputy attorneys general Nicole U. Rinke and Elizabeth B. Ramsey, on behalf of state AG Kamala D. Harris, the final EIR for the Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan "has not adequately analyzed or mitigated" traffic impacts; further, the AG's office is "concerned with the EIR's inadequate analysis of greenhouse gas emissions — another issue of statewide importance."

While that report was mentioned several times during public comment, mainly from opponents to the proposal, commissioners voted 4-2 in favor of the project and of certifying the final EIR after an hour or so of deliberation and discussion.

Sierra Sun Managing Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.

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Reporter Amanda Rhoades was at the meeting all day Thursday and tweeted close to 100 comments, updates, photos and videos from throughout the day. You can read and see those here: https://twitter.com/akrhoades.

As for coverage, look for more to this story Friday at SierraSun.com.

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Project background

KSL Capital Partners is majority owner of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, as well as the company Squaw Valley Ski Holdings. SVSH first proposed a redevelopment plan in 2011, and has since scaled it down in size.

The current Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan outlines construction of up to 850 lodging units, with a maximum of 1,493 bedrooms; nearly 300,000 square feet of tourist-serving commercial space, while decommissioning about 92,000 square feet of existing commercial space; and the 90,000-square-foot Mountain Adventure Camp.

Additional parking spaces, construction of up to 50 employee housing units and restoration of Squaw Creek also are proposed, among other plans.

In May 2016, the The Squaw Valley Municipal Advisory Council voted 3-1 to recommend Placer County deny the current proposal. It also voted 3-1 to, “recommend serious consideration be given to the project at a level approximately 50% of what is currently proposed, subject to further research to support the conclusions previously reached in the draft EIR.”

On Aug. 11, 2016, the Pkacer County Planning Commission voted 4-2 in favor of the project and the Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan. The issue now goes to the Board of Supervisors for a final vote.

Visit bit.ly/1Hfvg0g to view the current project’s final environmental impact report, and other associated project details.

Visit thevillageatsquaw.com for information from the developers about their vision.

Visit keepsquawtrue.org, created by Sierra Watch, to find out more about opposition to the proposal.