Opinion: We can’t allow Squaw development project to be approved
The issues before us concerning the proposed Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan are serious.
Every issue that exists in the Martis Valley West project — which the Placer County Planning Commission recommended to deny — also exists in KSL Capital Partners’ proposal for Squaw Valley, and for those reasons alone, the Placer County Board of Supervisors should vote to deny the project on November 15.
The final Environmental Impact Report, which is a KSL document, states many additional failures, yet it has already been pointed out by Sierra Watch and the State Attorney General that, even still, it is insufficient and faulty.
However, I am here to discuss something far more serious: Shirley Canyon.
Along with the many problems associated with this proposal, one of the greatest issues are those that would take place in Shirley Canyon.
This is the 10 percent of the project that would be on undisturbed land. KSL wants to seriously disturb this land by asking Placer County to re-zone several parts of Shirley Canyon from “Conservation Preserve and Forest Recreation” to “Heavy Commercial” – the most drastic switch in zoning possible.
The area would be used for heavy maintenance: vehicles, buses, loaders, snow removal equipment and much more.
Similarly, they ask for the right to store toxic chemicals and fuel directly adjacent to Squaw Creek. I implore you to look at the map.
KSL’s proposal goes farther in attempting to place almost 200,000 gallons of propane in the same area, requiring almost daily delivery of 30,000 gallons of propane. Again, this would be adjacent to Squaw Creek.
Part of this area is in an avalanche zone Placer County currently terms as a “Potential High Avalanche Hazard Area” (PAHA) and they now want to amend the zone to the opposite, a non-avalanche area.
They would do this because construction of fractional homes is also proposed for this area. It would place what Sierra Watch has described as “timeshare mansions” upon a 25% slope, with roads, hard scape and structures.
How anyone could possibly rezone this area with a straight face is beyond me, and it should worry our community as well. How do you tell an avalanche to just go somewhere else?
This is also a seismic zone — and again they want an amendment that would deny this area as an earthquake zone.
Avalanche and earthquake areas are not the recommended locations to place propane and toxic chemicals, yet Placer County staff has stated that there is no danger as the propane will be underground. If I am not mistaken, it is underground where most earthquakes happen.
I would again like to point out that all of this would be adjacent to Squaw Creek, the prime recharge area for the aquifer, Squaw Valley’s only water source.
California State Law requires that all aquifer recharge areas be mapped — this has not been done. Placer County is not in compliance with State law.
What dangers are we putting ourselves in with this proposal — our water supply, contamination and fire! If an earthquake were to compromise those six 30,000 gallon propane tanks placed underground in Squaw Valley’s aquifer recharge area, I guess Placer County could always just say, “It’s not our FAULT.”
Re-zoning of Shirley Canyon must not be allowed. No “statement of overriding considerations” can overcome the issues facing this pristine area alone. Even sadder, this is just one of many issues concerning KSL’s proposed development for Squaw Valley.
If you at all care about Shirley Canyon, safe water in Squaw Valley, or the overall health and safety of the entire North Lake Tahoe and Truckee Region, now, more than ever, we need to stand together as a community and ask that this project be denied so all parties can work together to find a project that benefits the entire region.
On November 15th, the Placer County Board of Supervisors will hold their final public meeting on KSL’s proposal for Squaw Valley. The meeting will take place in Kings Beach at the North Tahoe Event Center, and most likely go all day starting at 9 a.m. Please join your friends and neighbors in asking the Placer County Board of Supervisors to deny this project.
Peter Schweitzer is an Olympic Valley resident.