In the latest drama out of California, Squaw Valley's CEO and President Andy Wirth just came out against local efforts to incorporate Olympic Valley into a town. Plans to incorporate Olympic Valley emerged last year in response to KSL Capital Partner's large-scale expansion plans for the ski area's base village. Squaw Valley Ski Holdings has remained relatively silent about the proposed incorporation, until now.
Curbed Ski has followed the multi-year process of redeveloping Squaw's base village for a while. The project's latest plans downgraded a widely criticized 2011 proposal that called for an enormous 101.5 acre, 1000 residence, 132,000-square foot aquatic park. And while the water park is gone (and some famous faces have recently endorsed the revised plans), many still see KSL's plans as too much for Squaw Valley.
Likewise, plans to incorporate Olympic Valley have been moving along too. The organization Incorporate Olympic Valley (IOV) aims for increased autonomy from Placer County in order to have greater say in Squaw Valley's future. They recently launched a crowdfunding campaign and have plenty of local support. Representatives of IOV say they aren't anti-development. Instead, their goal is smart development with greater local participation.
So where is Squaw CEO Andy Wirth in all of this? In an April 7th letter Wirth tracks what he sees as the negative impacts of creating a new town, arguing that Olympic Valley would not have enough tax revenue to sustain itself without raising local taxes. Incorporate Olympic Valley disagrees, stating that the new town would get a healthy amount of money from hotel bed taxes and a percentage of existing property taxes. The coalition adds that the California regulatory agency will do a financial analysis in the coming months and incorporation won't go forward if it's not revenue neutral.
It's likely we'll see plenty of debates over the facts and figures in the coming months. But Wirth's letter, which is full of veiled threats about raising lift ticket prices and other costs at the ski area, shows just how threatened KSL and Squaw Valley Ski Holdings are by potential incorporation. This makes sense, as the impetus for creating organizations like Incorporate Olympic Valley and Friends of Squaw Valley was in response to the proposed base village development. But their goals (increased local control and preservation of a beloved community) are rallying cries heard in ski towns everywhere. Tell us Curbediverse, where do you stand on the issue?
· Tensions mount over possible new town at Squaw [NPR]
· Squaw Valley Comes Out as Against the Creation of Olympic (Squaw) Valley as a City [Snow Brains]
· SVSH Gives Their Input On The Olympic Valley Incorporation…And It's Not Very Pretty [Unofficial Alpine]
· Incorporate Olympic Valley [Official Site]
· All Squaw Valley Base Village Coverage [Curbed Ski Archives]