Guest Column: Community interest vs. corporate reality
Recently the pages of the local publications have been awash with advertisements for a group that plans to “Save Olympic Valley.”
It seems a cause of the most noblest of sorts. As an avid skier and lover of the heritage and history of the region, my concern runs deep.
I sought out more information on their views on saving an imperiled valley. They call themselves “…a local coalition of concerned residents, business owners, property owners, workers and others who have come together with Squaw Valley…”
I figured I might attend a meeting and get to know some of them. Alas, it appears they don’t actually hold meetings, or at least ones that are open to the public. Most of their spokespeople live out of town, so I suppose that does make it tough.
In fact, according to campaign finance documents filed to Placer County, the entire operation is officially based out of the offices of a law firm in San Rafael. This must be the “others” in the coalition.
Thus far the entire campaign has been singularly funded by Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, to the tune of $253,100 in cash and services at the latest available report (Jan. 1-July 31). This, mind you, to defeat a measure that does not yet even appear on the ballot.
Perhaps it’s not striking that Squaw Valley Ski Holdings would spend upwards of a quarter of a million dollars on opposing the incorporation effort. It’s that they would spend that much money to prevent the issue from even reaching the people for a vote in the first place.
So one company held by Colorado interests is funding a network of attorneys and public relations firms from the Bay Area, and this is what amounts to a coalition of local voices?
Across the region, we’ve seen vast changes. A glance across the Tahoe shores shows that some of our most iconic and valuable resources are now under outside control. Vail, a Colorado behemoth, now counts Northstar, Heavenly, and Kirkwood among its vast holdings.
Squaw and Alpine are combined under a separate Colorado ownership. Once quaint, Homewood will soon be another luxury condo resort. Even Boreal is owned by a company from Utah.
While these outside influences are not inherently bad, they are driven by factors and markets that exist far from the place that we call home. The community’s best interest is only going to go as far as it benefits their own corporate realities.
This is where the local citizens behind the effort to Incorporate Olympic Valley step in. Their sole purpose in the creation of a township is to ensure that the local residents have a greater level of representation, both now and for the future.
They reject the notion that local decisions are better made by county officials who are more accustomed to Sacramento sprawl than the unique rural mountain realities we face.
Despite S.O.V.’s fear-mongering tactics, second-home owners might likely find that a council of their neighbors would be more approachable and beneficial than the supervisors in Auburn.
Just as full-time residents, they would earn a more direct path to the decision makers under an Incorporated Olympic Valley.
Ultimately I support the notion, the same notion indeed shared by our founding fathers at the inception of this nation, that representation at home is preferable to representation far away.
One outside network of attorneys and public relations firm — the misleadingly entitled committee to Save Olympic Valley — seeks to stand in the way of this widely celebrated concept.
Andrew Hays is an Olympic Valley resident.