If you've been following all the drama out of Squaw Valley this year, you'll remember that big changes have been proposed for both Squaw and neighboring Alpine Meadows. Along with a new gondola connecting the two resorts, Squaw Valley is in the midst of a multi-year battle to redevelop the 101.5-acre base resort with more lodging and what some see as unnecessary amenities. In response to the ski area's big plans (which include construction of up to 1,493 bedrooms and a 90,000-square-foot Mountain Adventure Camp), a group of concerned citizens decided to try to incorporate Squaw into a new town, called Olympic Valley. In late May, a controversial report questioned the fiscal viability of the potential town, causing a new uproar in this tight-knit community. Curbed Ski breaks down just what the heck is going on.
Current plans for the Squaw Valley base are a downgraded version of 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 now much smaller (and some famous faces have recently endorsed the revised plans), many still see Andy Wirth and Co's plans as too much for Squaw Valley. You can check out full coverage of the base area redevelopment, over here.
The Incorporate Olympic Valley (IOV) organization aims to have a greater say in Squaw Valley's future. Representatives of IOV say they aren't anti-development. Instead, their goal is smart development with greater local participation and self-determination.
In contrast, a group called Save Olympic Valley (SOV) is bankrolled by Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and is against incorporation. Read more about the differences between IOV and SOV, over here.
In order to incorporate as a city, IOV needs to demonstrate that incorporation would not adversely financially affect the county. Earlier this year, the Placer County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) awarded a bid to RSG to conduct a comprehensive fiscal analysis. Their report was released in late May and dealt a blow to IOV and its supporters.
The draft of the comprehensive fiscal analysis concludes, "the town's potential general fund and road fund expenditures materially exceed revenues in each year of our forecast and incorporation does not appear to be feasible at this time."
But IOV disagrees with the report. As Jamie Schectman, an Incorporate Olympic Valley PAC Board Member states, "The Preliminary Draft Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis is flawed by incorrect assumptions, mathematical errors, and numerous inconsistencies. We believe our community deserves a fair and accurate report, and are working hard towards accomplishing that."
In response to the report going public, the chairman of Incorporate Olympic Valley published an op-ed outlining the problems of the fiscal analysis in the Tahoe Daily Tribune. There have also been town meetings that have addressed the report's potential pitfalls and a good summary of these flaws are available over here.
Meanwhile, Andy Wirth has praised the report, saying, "The independent study confirms the prevailing wisdom that creating a town of 500 people, based on one revenue source and dependent on tourism and weather conditions, doesn't make sense. The report is credible, uses sound methodology and reasonable assumptions," he also said. "Under all scenarios considered, incorporation is not feasible ... moving forward would be a risky venture..."
So where does that leave Incorporate Olympic Valley? According to Placer County LAFCO, any comments or suggested revisions by IOV, Placer County, and members of the public will be considered. The fiscal analysis will be used during "revenue neutrality negotiations" between IOV and Placer County later this month, so there's still a significant possibility that the final document is different. The proposed town would also require an environmental impact report, but that won't happen unless the town is fiscally viable.
All interested parties should attend a public workshop on the subject on June 10, 2015 at 4:00 pm in the Tahoe City Public Utility District in Tahoe City. You can check out what's up on tap for the agenda, over here.
· Big strike against Olympic Valley incorporation [Lake Tahoe News]
· Andy Wirth, Olympic Valley group disagree on fiscal report [Tahoe Daily Tribune]
· Opinion: Olympic Valley fiscal report seriously flawed [Tahoe Daily Tribune]
· How Much Money Is Squaw Valley Willing To Spend To Stop The Incorporation Of Olympic Valley? [Unofficial Alpine]
· Incorporate Olympic Valley [Official Site]
· Save Olympic Valley [Official Site]
· Squaw Valley CEO Comes Out Against Olympic Valley [Curbed Ski]
· All Coverage of the Fight Over Olympic Valley [Curbed Ski Archives]
· All Squaw Valley Base Village Coverage [Curbed Ski Archives]