My Turn: A perspective on the new KSL plan
The Friends of Squaw Valley was formed in response to three things: 1. The proposal by KSL to develop an expanded village on 101.5 acres in the base area. 2. To give voice to the concerns of the community — be they full time or part time residents of Olympic Valley, day skiers or local retail operators. And 3. To ensure that future generations could, to the extent possible, experience Squaw Valley in much the same way as the present and past generations have.
For more than a year, the Friends, along with Sierra Watch, have voiced alarm about the severe impacts that the 2012 KSL plan would have on the character, the resources, and the feeling of Squaw Valley. We have sought to have KSL reduce their initial plan’s size and scope to achieve, as mentioned in the 11/12/13 op ed, “Finding Goldilocks in Squaw Valley” — not too big, not too small, but just right.
It appears that KSL has heard our message. Clearly the credit for the changes we see in the new plan belongs to the community — the letters, meetings, and conversations at Base Camp and elsewhere. As we have been told by executives of Squaw Valley, the complaints were consistent, loud and numerous.
The Friends welcome the withdrawal of the prior plan as well as the spirit of accommodation that has been demonstrated by the just released illustrative plan. The “key changes” are well stated in the website, http://thevillageatsquaw.com/project. The new proposal proposes to preserve the views from the neighboring living units, and to preserve the Olympic heritage by retaining the Olympic House and the Members’ Locker Room.
It proposes a scale back of the number of units (although it would increase the density of units on the built out area), and it recognizes the role played by the day skiers by preserving much of the parking lot. And, it proposes enhanced employee housing in the valley, and a commitment by KSL to a “transfer fee” for future environmental mitigations.
But, while acknowledging the progress made toward accommodation, the Friends intend to continue to press the community to stay informed and vigilant. We must all remember that KSL is not seeking approval to build what they have illustrated. Rather they are seeking entitlements to develop — and these entitlements, soon to be elaborated upon in the new revised Specific Plan, will detail what could be built.
It will address building shape, height and appearance, as well as building density, view corridors, and pedestrian walkways. It will also address issues such as snow storage, signage, and landscaping.
These Design Guidelines are the key to what the community will have to live with in the future. And, several months from now, we will have the opportunity to analyze the Environmental Impact Report, which will deal with traffic, noise, light pollution, sewage, and most important of all, water.
All these steps require community comment and input. We must not lose our focus nor stop being vigilant now. With this new proposal, the entire process will begin once again. We must not view the new plan in comparison to what it was, but rather only on what it is now.
We need to assess the impacts that THIS NEW PLAN would have on our valley, our community, and our values.
• We need to ensure that this, and any future, development remain within the boundaries of this new plan. No future owner should be able to propose building in the area that would be left undeveloped.
There is still much to do. The Friends of Squaw Valley are committed to staying the course. Of course we will keep the community informed as the new Initial Study and Notice of Preparation documents become available, but we will need the support of the community in providing input to these documents when the comment periods begins and in attending the Design Review Committee meetings.
We sincerely hope that the spirit that SVSH has shown in creating their new plan will carry on into the future as together we address the myriad other issues that surely will come to the fore.
Ed Heneveld is chairman of the group Friends of Squaw Valley and a 35 year resident of Squaw Valley. This opinion column was written based on input from, and on behalf of, the Friends of Squaw Valley.
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