With incorporation shelved, what’s next for Olympic Valley residents? | SierraSun.com

With incorporation shelved, what’s next for Olympic Valley residents?

A look at Olympic Valley, located just north of Lake Tahoe.
Margaret Moran / Sierra Sun |

If you go

What: Placer Local Agency Formation Commission meeting

Where: County Administrative Building (Board of Supervisors’ Chambers) at 175 Fulweiler Ave., Auburn

When: 4 p.m., Wednesday Dec. 9

Learn more: Visit incorporateolympicvalley.org, saveolympicvalley.org or placer.ca.gov/departments/lafco to learn more about the incorporation effort, more about Save Olympic Valley, or to view associated documents.



Ilfeld estimates the incorporation process cost IOV roughly $500,000 among LAFCO administrative, various consultant and state review fees.

In addition, in the past two years, IOV reported $68,664.58 in expenditures toward political and advocacy efforts, including professional services (legal), campaign consultants, information technology costs (internet, email) and print ads, according to Fair Political Practices Commission forms filed with Placer County Elections.

Since October 2015 is the latest filed campaign statement, and IOV has additional bills to pay, Ilfeld said he estimates the group will have spent $75,000 by this month’s end.

Funding for the group came from about 230 donors, who consisted of valley residents, second-home owners and valley visitors, he said.

Meanwhile, SOV reported spending $783,620.68 the past two years on professional services, campaign consultants, campaign literature and mailings, and advertisements, according to FPPC forms filed with Placer County Elections.

SOV has contended throughout the incorporation effort that it’s needed to spend money to combat varying false statements and misinformed conclusions published by IOV.

In the past two years, SOV has received $747,668.51 in monetary and nonmonetary contributions to help cover expenses, with Squaw Valley Ski Holdings being a major financial backer, according to the FPPC.

“Given the impasse with LAFCO combined with opposition by Placer County, plus stiff and heavily funded opposition from Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, we saw no way to continue moving forward,” Ilfeld said in IOV’s release.

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — A local group’s attempt to incorporate Olympic Valley has ended prematurely in the face of mounting interpretations that the proposed California town would not be financially successful.

Incorporate Olympic Valley, the grassroots organization that’s spearheaded the incorporation effort since 2013, formally withdrew its pending petition with the Placer Local Agency Formation Commission Office on Tuesday afternoon.

“We firmly believe the town was fiscally viable and would have benefited not only our community but neighboring communities as well,” the group stated in a letter to LAFCO. “However, it is clear that the hostility to our proposal from the county and others has made it hard for you commissioners to support our proposal.”

The petition withdrawal was a unanimous decision among IOV’s eight board members.

A major point of contention surrounding the incorporation effort was whether the proposed town would be fiscally viable.

Weighing in the issue recently was the California State Controller’s Office, which released a 125-page report in late October on the latest document that analyzes the proposed town’s financial potential.

Upon the request of IOV, the state reviewed 31 issues related to the draft Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis, which concluded that the proposed town “does not appear to be feasible at this time.”

While the Controller’s Office provided input on each issue submitted for review, it did not issue an overarching finding on whether the proposed town would be financially viable.


Based on its own analysis in consultation with its financial specialist, IOV proclaimed the state report confirms the draft CFA contains flaws, and the proposed town would indeed be fiscally feasible when the numbers are crunched.

In contrast, the group Save Olympic Valley (which is supported by Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and has been IOV’s main opponent) stated the same report confirms the draft study is not deeply flawed, and since it largely upholds key assumptions of the CFA, incorporation is therefore not viable.

“After reviewing the report and meeting with the SCO to clarify several remaining questions concerning the impact of the report on the CFA, staff has determined that unless changes are negotiated through revenue neutrality, the report does not change the underlying conclusions reached in the CFA,” a staff report in the Nov. 18 LAFCO agenda packet states. “Although there are several adjustments that would improve the financial assumptions of the proposed city, it still appears at this time formation of the city is not financially viable, particularly in the first three years.”

Based on that analysis, the commission at its meeting last month discussed the possibility of denying the application, said Kristina Berry, Placer County LAFCO executive officer.

Financial viability was one of several determinations the LAFCO Commission would have had to make in order to approve the incorporation petition before the issue can go before voters.

“LAFCO’s stance has been resolutely negative on financial viability, despite IOV’s pointing out that successive versions of the dCFA were marred by incorrect assumptions, mathematical miscalculations and internal inconsistencies, and despite the State Controller’s conclusions,” according to a Tuesday statement from IOV. “Since LAFCO staff remains unyielding in its view, IOV has decided not to expend more effort into a process that shows no pathway toward success.”


Meanwhile, Squaw Valley Ski Holdings CEO Andy Wirth, who also represents Save Olympic Valley, said IOV’s decision is a “step in the right direction for the future of Olympic Valley.”

SOV is a coalition of valley residents, business owners, property owners and workers that’s been publicly critical of incorporation, questioning the proposed town’s finances, level of community services and impact on North Lake Tahoe.

“The detailed and informed work that went into the draft CFA, and the expert review by the State Controller’s Office has (led) everyone, with the exception of a few of the IOV proponents, to the rational and logical conclusion that the proposed town is fiscally infeasible,” Wirth stated in a SOV-issued news release Tuesday afternoon.

He continued: “Creating a new town would have been a risky proposition, not just for the people and businesses of Olympic Valley, but for the community of North Lake Tahoe. We now have the opportunity to move forward in a positive way, and to work together as a cohesive community to maintain our mountain culture and have a dialogue on how we can join together in tackling some of the challenges and concerns that prompted this initiative.”

IOV’s effort to incorporate was driven by the desire for greater self-determination and to exercise more control over local issues such as land use planning and regulation, according to previous reports.

What’s next?

On Wednesday, Fred Ilfeld, chair of the Incorporate OV Foundation, a financial arm of IOV, said IOV members have yet to “define future activities precisely.”

However, they will focus on reaching out to commercial interests and others in Olympic Valley to define common goals in an effort to better the valley that they share, he said.

Squaw Valley homeowner Keith Fountain, who is among SOV’s online testimonials, meanwhile, looks forward to a collaborative future without incorporation as an option.

“Let’s work with what’s been proven to work,” Fountain stated in SOV’s release. “Let’s perhaps approach the county on some of the issues that the local residents are concerned about that aren’t being satisfied. I think there are other ways of solving the problems, and I think we need to engage everyone in that dialogue. We need to make it an inclusive community activity, avoiding anything that might fragment us and weaken our position.”

During the incorporation process, several entities such as Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, The Resort at Squaw Creek and Poulsen Family Properties approached LAFCO, requesting to be excluded from the proposed town of Olympic Valley.

Moving forward, LAFCO will discuss some “outstanding issues,” such as payment of outstanding fees related to the incorporation process at its meeting next week, Berry said.

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