Opinion: Martis Valley West is a bad deal for Lake Tahoe
Special to the Sun-Bonanza
After reading Blake Riva’s (Mountainside Partners) Oct. 22 opinion column concerning the Martis Valley West proposal, I must issue with some of the information Mr. Riva presented, which is disingenuous at best and downright deceptive at worst.
Firstly, Riva’s assertion that “the Martis Valley West Project is located entirely outside the Tahoe Basin” is, strictly speaking, true. However, he failed to mention the massive Brockway Campground project that has also been proposed by Mountainside Partners, which is 100 percent inside the Tahoe Basin and is directly adjacent to the Martis Valley West site.
These two huge new developments are slated to put thousands of new people, cars and associated infrastructure atop a dry, forested ridge between the North Shore and Northstar. What a wonderful way to get back to nature: You’ll have your RV or a luxury “eco shelter,” all the pavement you need for your cars and boats, a lodge and cafeteria, swimming pool, and thousands of others to enjoy the wilderness with. Who could ask for more?
Well, we, the residents of Lake Tahoe, could and should ask for more — from the governing agencies (Placer County and the TRPA) in charge of reviewing and ultimately approving or denying these projects.
No part of the Brockway Campground project should even be considered for Tahoe’s iconic ridgelines, not only for scenic reasons, but also because of the significant traffic increase and hugely greater danger from forest fires to the residents of and visitors to the basin, who will have a difficult if not impossible time getting out of the basin on a road choked with traffic.
Martis Valley West, meanwhile, is a bad deal for the Tahoe area, not only in terms of the increased population (with the attendant air, water, noise, and light pollution that inevitably brings), but also in terms of a permanent and irrevocable change it will bring to the character of our mountain lifestyle.
Let’s take a look at some of Riva’s assertions regarding Martis Valley West:
• Riva states that the “transfer also results in the permanent retirement of 600 units of potential development in Martis Valley which has significant environmental benefits.” He fails to mention that these units were never proposed or approved and no environmental study was ever done, so this is a phantom gain. Additionally, any new development only results in an increase in population, which never has environmental benefits.
• Speaking of transfers, transferring “potential” development from the non-scenic, eastern side of Highway 267 to a site on the western side of the highway that is adjacent to and overlooking Lake Tahoe sounds like a pretty bad trade to me. Sierra Pacific is not donating this land out of the goodness of their hearts, either; in fact, they will be paid well for it should the trade go through, and also gain many millions more from their newly acquired ability to build two huge new developments in and next to the Tahoe Basin.
• Riva states that “extensive visual studies performed from both the Martis Valley and Tahoe Basin perspectives conclude there are no significant visual impacts associated with the project.” But 760 new homes, plus hundreds of densely packed luxury campsites in a completely dark forest, sounds pretty significant to me. Or are the residents and glampers going to be required to keep their lights off and not drive after dark?
• Riva states, “In terms of traffic implications, the permanent retirement of 600 units of potential development results in far less traffic being generated from the project than was contemplated in the Martis Valley Community Plan.” Again, we’re back to that same phantom gain. Together with Brockway Campground (they are technically different projects, but are in fact proposed to be directly adjacent to each other, so cannot be separated in terms of impacts), a brand-new development the size of Kings Beach will be plopped right in the middle of the forest at the top of the only road out of town. Sounds like pretty significant “traffic implications” to me.
Riva and his ilk are experts at spinning the facts to make new development sound like a benefit to the community, when it is, of course, all about the benefit to the land-owner and developer.
Big developers like Mountainside Partners will not be satisfied until the only thing left growing in the Tahoe Basin is the population. It’s time for Tahoe residents to take a stand and say NO to overdevelopment.
Coral Amende is an Incline Village resident.