Mousehole Tunnel 8/17/16

image010Truckee “Mousehole” Pedestrian/Bike Tunnel Celebrates Completion

TRUCKEE – The Town of Truckee and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) are pleased to announce the completion of the $14 million State Route 89 Undercrossing Improvement Project, nicknamed the “Mini-Mousehole”. The tunnel structure provides a pedestrian/bicycle path through the Union Pacific railroad embankment just southeast of downtown Truckee.

Because the railroad is in continous use, the project used a unique “road header” machine to excavate the tunnel as the concrete tunnel structure was inserted into the hole dug into the railroad embankment. Over 900 cubic yards of soil and rock was removed. Portal walls, pathway paving and a Truckee Tahoe Regional Transit shelter completed the project.

The construction of the pedestrian/bicycle tunnel will not only provide a safer route for pedestrians and bicyclists along the heavily traveled Highway 89 between Truckee and Tahoe City but will encourage non-vehicle, multi-modal forms of transportation benefitting the Tahoe Basin-Truckee environment.

Please visit the Town of Truckee website at http://www.townoftruckee.com for more information and to view the time-lapse construction video of the project.

Call It Bribery 8/3/16

New post on http://unofficialalpine.com

Squaw Valley Dangles $7.5 Million in Front of the Community
by Mark

Uncle Andy is handing out money, desperately seeking community approval for his Village plan.

Uncle Andy is handing out money, desperately seeking community approval for his Village plan.

Earlier today Squaw Valley released it’s latest and most desperate marketing ploy designed to gain approval of the proposed Village at Squaw Valley Development, the formation of the Squaw Valley Foundation. According to Squaw Valley Ski Holdings CEO Andy Wirth, the foundation would “address issues and fund environmental, transit and recreational initiatives and further land conservation and cultural preservation within Olympic Valley. Funding for the foundation would come from a 1.5% transfer tax from sales within the proposed Village at Squaw Valley specific plan. Squaw Valley estimates that the fee would generate $7.5 million, one would assume as entitlements and land are sold to developers. Another $1 million could be generated annually through real estate transfers. Here’s the kicker, the foundation, and its funding would only happen if Placer County officials approve the Village plan. No approval, no foundation, no money.

The astute reader has already noted that this announcement came just 9 days before the Placer County Planning Commission is set to discuss, and potentially approve or deny the proposal. We can’t help but wonder if Squaw Valley Ski Holdings is attempting to influence the opinion of Placer County officials, and the general public, with such a “generous” offer at this particular time. It would not even be Squaw Valley or KSL Capital’s money being used to fund the foundation. Funding would simply come from an extra 1.5% fee tacked on to the sale of each real estate transaction. That little time share unit you wanted in Shirley Canyon just got quite few thousand dollars more expensive.

We’re not quite sure what to call this latest move by Squaw CEO Andy Wirth and Squaw Valley. We’ve seen a lot of emails today, and a number of online posts that use the words “bribery”, “undue influence”, and “interfering with the public process.” A quick search of Roget’s also brings up the possible descriptors of “influence peddling”, “buying off”, “persuasion”, and “sweeteners”. We do know it’s not the first time we have seen Wirth attempt to influence public opinion.

• In November 2014, we published a report on Andy Wirth’s self-authored attempt to influence local non-profits to elicit support for the Village project.

• Similar efforts have been made by Andy and Squaw Valley to use well known local athletes to speak out in favor of the development. Most of these athletes also receive some sort of compensation or support for being the voice of Squaw Valley. Their efforts have not been very transparent.

• Squaw Valley Ski Holdings contributed more than $850,000 to the campaign to defeat the incorporation of Olympic Valley. The formation of the proposed town of Olympic Valley would have likely served the same functions as proposed for the foundation, except that representatives would have been voted in rather than hand selected by Andy and friends.

• Previous versions of the specific plan offered up to $2 million for the restoration of Squaw Creek. It’s unknown whether this would become a part of the foundation responsibilities, or if the newly set aside monies are in addition to that $2 million. We’ve said before that although the current owners of Squaw Valley are not the one that created the environmental disaster that is the Squaw Valley parking lot and the channelized Squaw Creek – they should a have keen interest in fixing the problem, without insisting that it does not happen unless the community approves a vastly over-sized development.

We hope that the community and Placer County officials can see through the latest smoke and mirrors ruse. The fact that they are offering this money at this time in the process should call their motives into question. The foundation would not be able to do that much in counteracting the 23 different “substantial and unavoidable impacts” identified in the project’s Environmental Impact Report. The foundation would focus on only Olympic Valley, but the effects of the Village at Squaw Valley proposal will reach far beyond the valley. That’s why the opposition to this plan stretches far past the local community. We encourage you to attend:

Placer County Planning Commission Meeting
August 11th, 2016 at 10:30 am
North Tahoe Events Center, Kings Beach

The folks over are Keep Squaw True are suggesting that people arrive at the meeting by 10:00 am to secure parking and seating, as a crowd is expected. Squaw Valley will seemingly stop at nothing to get approval for the behemoth known as the “Village At Squaw Valley Redevelopment Plan”. It’s not the right plan for Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, or the northern Lake Tahoe and Sierra region. The presence of the community at the meeting is the best way to ensure that Placer County is listening to the people and not just smelling the money.

Addendum: Here’s the article we actually meant to write today..

We are not alone in thinking the proposal is just a bad idea. Two more opinion pieces popped up in the Sierra Sun this week. Here’s the links:

http://www.sierrasun.com/news/23227624-113/opinion-silent-majority-opposes-squaw-village-development

http://www.sierrasun.com/news/23228514-113/opinion-squaw-valley-tahoe-deserve-better-than-current

Oh, yes, there was also one letter of support of the project. It was written by olympic skier Julia Mancuso. I’m shocked I tell ya, just shocked.

http://www.sierrasun.com/news/23227543-113/julia-mancuso-opinion-i-support-the-squaw-village

Mr. Fisher Retires 6/8/16

IMG_4680

courtesy of Sierra Booster Newspaper

Mark Fisher, Loyalton High School science and math and 7-8 P.E. teacher, waves as he leaves the high school with a P.E. class to walk to the junior high school gymnasium.

Mark is retiring after having started teaching in Loyalton in 1986 at the junior high school where he is remembered as being a part of infamous Olympic Program. There were camping trips to Lakes Basin area, science field trips to Great America, Monterey Bay Aquarium and to the Exploratorium for a total of 12 years before the program became too expensive. Mark remembers 80 events a year either at lunch or on Friday afternoons as part of the Olympic program. Between him and fellow teacher Dan Sheridan they raised close to $1 million dollars in fundraisers and grants.

Now that the junior and high schools combined in Loyalton, Mark believes the program can not be recreated with the junior high to influenced by the high schoolers.

IMG_4658 (1)Former Prinicipal Mike Filipino calls Mark, “an outstanding teacher at the junior high who created a wonderful science curriculum.: He continued, “Mark was instrumental in keeping the Olympic program afloat and he was also excellent with computers and got that program at the junior high in place by setting a lab and figuring out what to order and then offered it as an elective.”

Once retired, Mark says he will continue to work with kids to make a difference at Project Discovery at Mt. Rose on the ropes challenge course.

COMMUNITY SAYS NO 5/18/16

THE COMMUNITY SAYS NO TO THE VILLAGE AT SQUAW VALLEY PROJECT…AGAIN

The Community Says No To The Village At Squaw Valley Project…Again

Hundreds of people attended last Saturday’s Squaw Valley MAC meeting. Image via Keep squaw True
The community continues to deliver the message that they are not willing to accept the proposed Village At Squaw Valley project as currently proposed. Last Saturday, the Squaw Valley Municipal Advisory Council voted 3-1 to recommend that the Placer County Board of Supervisors deny the application by Squaw Valley to build the oversized project.

It’s not the first time the community resisted the plan. For more than two years, the community tried to organize and incorporate as the town of Olympic Valley to gain more local control over the plan. Squaw Valley and Andy Wirth, under the friendly moniker “Save Olympic Valley”, spent more than $800,000 fighting the incorporation effort, finally killing it off last fall. There was also strong community opposition after the release of the draft Environmental Impact Report last summer. The dEIR identified “23 different significant and unavoidable impacts” from the proposed project. Roughly 350 different individuals, businesses and government agencies expressed their opposition to the plan, mostly based on the scale of the project and resulting issues with traffic, noise, use of local resources and the expected 25 year construction period.

Sure, there’s an occasional person out there that does support the project. We noted that this letter appeared in support of the project in the Sierra Sun recently. It points out a simple fact. Nearly every one of these letters comes from someone that stands to directly benefit from the project. The letter this week was from an upper level employee at Squaw Valley. Other letters of support have come from both athletes and local non-profits that are essentially sponsored by Squaw Valley.

“Saturday was a great night for Squaw and everyone who loves Lake Tahoe. Hundreds of people turned out, and the Council demonstrated true leadership in taking a stand for Squaw.” – said Tom Mooers, Executive Director of Sierra Watch

KSL Capital Partners purchased the North Tahoe resort in 2010, citing Squaw’s “great growth potential”. Their final Village at Squaw Village Specific Plan proposes to remake Squaw Valley with development of scale and type never before seen in North Lake Tahoe. KSL is asking for 25 years worth of entitlements for:

A 90,000 square foot 96’ tall indoor waterpark with waterslides, indoor waterskiing, fake rivers, arcades, and a 30 lane bowling complex;
1,493 new bedrooms spread among a series of highrise condo hotels (many of which would be nearly 100’ tall) surrounding the existing village;
21 timeshare mansions on undeveloped land in the mouth of Shirley Canyon; and
a propane “tank farm” with 30,000 gallon tanks at the entrance to the resort.
On Saturday, Chevis Hosea, Squaw Valley VP of Real Estate, rose to represent the developers, touting the economic development their project would bring and explaining how the $1,000/square foot condos would make Squaw Valley a world-class destination.

He announced a change in their plans: trimming the height of the indoor waterpark from 108 to 96 feet, a modest reduction that would still allow the developers – and Tahoe – to lay claim to the tallest indoor waterslide in North America.

Three members of the Squaw Valley MAC were forced to recuse themselves from the meeting as they had potential conflicts of interest. It’s our guess that had all members voted, the best result that Squaw Valley developers could have expected would be a 5-2 vote to recommend denying the application, although it’s quite possible it could have gone 6-1.

In addition to passing the motion to recommend denying the application, the Council made a second vote to recommend that that Placer County supervisors approve the alternative version of the project presented in the Environmental Impact Report. That version would cut the project by about 50% and eliminate nearly all of the predicted impacts from the project. The council’s motion includes a request that a new EIR be completed to fully analyze the reduced plan.

12036484_1134781646588092_7145735979392869173_nThe Placer County Planning Commission is slated to review the project next. The meeting, which reportedly was scheduled for late May has now been postponed until June. Will the community also show up by the hundreds to let them know this project is just too big? We have no doubts they will be there in force.

“Isn’t there already enough adventure here in this valley? Shouldn’t we be exposing kids to the natural wonders of this valley?” – Sally Brew, Squaw Valley resident

Psychic Spring Cleaning 4/6/16

Spring is so exciting! We are coming out of the hibernating months and amping up to tackle the year.

Workouts, cleaning the home, and living a more simplistic minimal lifestyle are all on tap for this season of refreshing.

Keep in mind that it’s also a great time of year for Psychic Spring Cleaning!

Where you at in there? What attitudes or modalities are you ready to let go? What learned behavior is not serving you any longer? Do your life priorities match with your actions?

Take a look, schedule a consultation with me, and get the rest of your year into the gear you want to be turning. Let’s do this! http://www.jeninebeecher.com

Fun at Tahoe Sports Hub 3/9/16

Tahoe Sports Hub: Bringing The Fun Next Weekend
by Mark http://unofficialalpine.com
With winds, rain and lift closures today, there’s not much skiing to talk about today. For Sunday, our forecast is has been holding steady for dropping snow levels and heavy snow by tomorrow morning. We still think that operations tomorrow will quite possibly be delayed or limited for Sunday at Alpine Meadows.

So on a more positive note, we thought we should share this awesome news from our friends at the Tahoe Sports Hub:

Screen-Shot-2016-03-05-at-4.50.06-PMThe Tahoe Sports Hub is pleased to announce they are hosting a free event to thank customers for their loyalty and raise awareness for Sierra Avalanche Center. The third annual Tahoe Sports Hub customer appreciation party will take place from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 12.

Refreshments and entertainment will be provided for this free community event and the entire store will be on sale with discounts up to 70%. In addition, Tahoe Sports Hub has partnered with Sierra Avalanche Center to raise awareness and funds for avalanche safety in our community. A raffle with prize packages exceeding $3000 will take place throughout the event. All customers will receive one free raffle ticket upon arrival and can purchase additional tickets while supporting Sierra Avalanche Center. The grand prize winner will receive their choice of skis off of Tahoe Sports Hub’s well stocked ski wall.

No John Muir 2/17/16

http:// UnofficialAlpine.com
Defending John Muir’s Legacy

NoMuirWe received a copy of an email this week, and we’re happy to publish it here. In a nutshell, the Sierra Club comes forward with their thoughts about the proposed developments at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, and about Andy Wirth’s use of John Muir in support of his development plans :

Subject: John Muir and your proposed over-development of Squaw Valley

Dear Mr. Wirth:

You invoke the legacy of John Muir as you pursue destruction of his beloved Sierra, and we are asking you to stop.

Sierra Club does not own a copyright on John Muir; his legacy is shared by all. But we do celebrate his role as a founder of Sierra Club and feel a sense of responsibility to ensure the integrity of his name.

The1 latest edition of Squaw magazine begins with an open letter in which you repeatedly quote Muir and seek to wrap yourself in his legacy. But the magazine goes on to tout your proposal to mechanize the wilderness – with a gondola through land federally designated as Granite Chief Wilderness.

We understand the gondola as only one of your destructive proposals; you also seek entitlements to urbanize Tahoe’s Squaw Valley with a series of ten-story tall highrises and, amazingly, a massive indoor water park.

You insist on seeking to associate yourself with John Muir when, clearly, your development schemes represent the misguided destruction he fought to keep from diminishing the irreplaceable value of our namesake mountain range, Muir’s beloved Sierra.

Local Sierra Club representatives have already joined Sierra Watch and others to ask you to pull your proposed gondola from the wilderness and have urged decision-makers to deny approval of your highrises.

If you continue to pursue those projects, we ask that you, at least, stop invoking the name of John Muir as if he were on your side. He’s not.

Sincerely,

Bruce Hamilton
Deputy Executive Director
Sierra Club
San Francisco, Calif.
Bravo Mr. Hamilton. Thanks for taking a stand.

Here’s the page mentioned in the November 2015 issue.

SquawMag

1 We changed this word from “In” to “The” as it made better sense. Just being transparent about that one change. We make little mistakes like that too.

Concerns About Village 2/10/16

TRPA Notes Its Concerns Regarding The Village At Squaw Valley Project
by Mark http://unofficialalpine.com

In some respects, it’s been a bit refreshing this season that we’ve to be able to talk about more about some excellent ski conditions and a little bit less about the proposed Village At Squaw Valley Project. We had figured that February might be a busy month for news on the project, with the release of the project’s final Environmental Impact Report. That report, and all of the drama that is expected to follow, has now been delayed until late spring of 2016.

It was an editorial that appeared in last week’s Sierra Sun that brought the Village project back to our attention. In his editorial, Sierra Watch Executive Director Tom Moore notes a Tahoe Regional Planning Agency letter itemizing their concerns to the Placer County Planning Department. He notes that TRPA has now joined nearly 350 other agencies and individuals that provided comments on the draft EIR last year.

Technically, the entire Village project, as well as all of Squaw Valley and most of Alpine Meadows, does not even fall under TRPA jurisdiction, which covers the “Tahoe Basin”. The basin is loosely defined as all watersheds that drain into Lake Tahoe, thereby affecting its clarity. The agency, created in 1969, has drawn its share of criticism for being both too restrictive and too lenient. One can only imagine the fate of the lake had TRPA not given guidance at all over the last 45 years.

In their letter to Placer County, TRPA focused their concerns only on Chapter 9 of the dEIR, which deals specifically with transportation and circulation. They note that the additional development will result in more vehicle trips and therefore more vehicle miles in the basin. Here’s a summary:

• From the data in the dEIR, TRPA calculated that there would be roughly 2700 daily vehicle trips into the basin, resulting in somewhere between 28,000 and 48,000 vehicle miles travelled in the basin daily.

• These trips would be in addition to other projects already approved or in line for approval in the basin such as the Homewood project and the Brockway Campground.

• Projects within the basin are required to mitigate the vehicle traffic and to pay an air quality mitigation fee. Since the Village project is not within the basin, but some of the traffic it will create will be in the basin, it’s unclear how the TRPA may proceed.

• TRPA suggests that significant reductions in vehicular traffic could be gained by adding additional bus runs into Squaw Valley from the basin. They also suggest the need to add incentives for people to use the alternative transportation.

While it’s great to see the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency getting involved in the Village At Squaw Valley project. We think they’re underestimating the amount of vehicular traffic the project will generate. A footnote on their letter says it all. They used the estimated traffic numbers directly from the draft Environmental Impact Report to make their calculations.

You may remember that several agencies and many individuals took issue with the traffic calculations presented in the document as being unrealistic. The traffic surveys were conducted occurred during a dry spell during one of the driest seasons on record in Tahoe, resulting in a very significant reduction in skier visits that season. Can you imagine if they had conducted that traffic survey during this season?

Kudos to Tom Mooers and Sierra Watch for reminding us that we have to stay vigilant in protecting the future of the Lake Tahoe region for everyone. The Village At Squaw Valley project and proposed Base to Base project will have far reaching impacts that we cannot afford to let happen. Here’s a link to the TRPA-letter

Modoc-Washoe Meeting 2/10/16

*Modoc-Washoe Stewardship Group Meets Feb. 25 in Cedarville*

*CEDARVILLE, *Calif. – Topics affecting natural resources on public lands
in northeast California and far northwest Nevada will be discussed, when
the Modoc-Washoe Experimental Stewardship Steering Committee meets
Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Bureau of Land Management Surprise Field Station
, 602 Cressler St., in Cedarville.

The meeting, open to the public, gets underway at 9 a.m.

Agenda topics include updates from member agencies, a report on
wild horse management, a status report on rangeland monitoring on national
forest lands in the Warner Mountains and an update on the Modoc National
Forest’s Lassen 15 project.

Committee members will also discuss targeted grazing on cheat
grass in areas burned by the Coleman Fire, hear the BLM’s response to a
technical review team report on degraded sagebrush areas and discuss a
research report from Modoc County Cooperative Extension.

Public comments will be accepted at 11:30 a.m. Those unable to
attend the meeting can participate by teleconference. The toll-free phone
number is 800-857-5137, and the passcode is 66360.

The Modoc-Washoe group is part of the national Experimental
Stewardship Program, created by Congress in the Public Rangelands
Improvement Act of 1978. The program encourages rangeland management
innovation and incentives for improving conditions on public rangelands.
The Modoc-Washoe group advises the BLM’s Applegate (formerly Surprise)
Field Office and the Modoc National Forest’s Warner Mountain Ranger
District.

The committee has diverse membership including livestock
grazing permit holders, representatives from the BLM and Forest Service,
and the California and Nevada Departments of Fish and Wildlife. Other
interests represented include the timber industry, invasive weed control
interests, resource conservation districts, NRCS, environmental and
sporting interests from California and Nevada and local government.

Avalanche Safety Info 1/13/16

courtesy of http://unofficialalpine.com

10154191_985234430318_1395282124372177161_nOne of the fastest-growing segments of the outdoor industry is backcountry skiing. And, really, it’s not even close. With increased attention being paid to it from films, magazines, and general GoPro-related postings, there is an entire segment of the population gearing up to head out into the snowy wilderness. As with any sport, increased participation can lead to an increased risk of injury or death. And, with backcountry skiing and snowboarding, those risks are magnified greatly.

So what is an aspiring backcountry traveler to do? Well, the most important tool that one can arm themselves with is knowledge. Know Before You Go is a nationally recognized avalanche education series that seeks to equip snow-enthusiasts with the necessary tools to travel safely in the backcountry. Though certainly not comprehensive, KBYG helps users “see the destructive power of avalanches, understand when and why they happen, and how you can have fun in the mountains and avoid avalanches.”

Every year 42 people are killed by avalanches in North America. Not to mention hundreds more injured, many of them in life-altering ways. Sadly, a vast majority of these accidents are preventable, or at least avoidable. With so many people venturing into the backcountry these days, it’s even more important that you know how to safely navigate terrain, read hazards, and be able to make safe decisions.

In the spirit of avalanche safety, Granite Chief Ski & Mountain Shop, in conjunction with the Sierra Avalanche Center and Truckee/Tahoe Radio, will be hosting a Know Before You Go event in-store on Saturday, January 16th at 7 pm.The event will feature the award-winning short film from the folks at Know Before You Go, a short presentation by one of the forecasters from the Sierra Avalanche Center, and an audience Q&A to help answer all your burning questions. As with all good events, Know Before You Go at Granite Chief will have free food and beer, as well as some great raffle prizes!

Town of Truckee Envision DPR 1/6/16

Town of Truckee Envision DPR Feb. 3 Public Meeting Slated Jan. 6, 2016 (TRUCKEE, Calif.) – The Town of Truckee will host the second in a series of public meetings on the proposed Donner Pass Road streetscape improvement project known as Envision DPR on Wed., Feb. 3, 2016 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Truckee Town Hall. Envision DPR has been in the works since early last summer. The project’s goal is to create a more pedestrian and bike friendly thoroughfare and to help improve traffic flow along the stretch of Donner Pass Road between the McIver roundabout and Coldstream Road.

The Town is concurrently working on preliminary designs for both a short-term sidewalk and crosswalk improvement project and a long-term corridor master plan. Preliminary designs for both phases will be presented at the workshop.

The first phase of the project (Phase 1), which includes connecting sidewalks and improved pedestrian crossings, will be built during the 2017 construction season and is funded in part by a $1.5 million grant from the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program. Additional Envision DPR improvements will depend on funding and community input and will likely take place over a number of implementation phases. The Town of Truckee has continued to gather input since the last workshop to help shape the preliminary designs. Community members interested in being notified about Envision DPR project updates, can sign up to receive email notifications at http://www.townoftruckee.com. To find out more about the project, go to Envision-DPR. Mark Your Calendar! Town of Truckee Envision DPR Public Meeting What: Preliminary Design Presentation & Public Input When: Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016

Free Ski For Tahoe Plates 11/4/15

El Niño Is Coming: Buy A Tahoe License Plate And Ski For Free

“Plates for Powder” program returns for 2015/16 season
TAHOE CITY, Calif. and INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – November 2, 2015 – With predictions for the biggest winter in over a decade, now is the time to buy a Tahoe license plate so you can ski for free in Tahoe. The popular “Plates for Powder” program is back, and once again offers individuals who purchase a new Lake Tahoe license plate in either California or Nevada two free lift tickets to one of 12 Tahoe resorts participating in the program.

“Snow is back in the forecast in Tahoe,” said Amy Berry, CEO of the Tahoe Fund. “Thanks to the generosity of the resorts in Tahoe, you can now take advantage of these conditions with free lift tickets while helping Tahoe’s environment.”

Plate sales and renewal fees generate proceeds that go directly to the California Tahoe Conservancy and Nevada Division of State Lands to fund hiking and biking trails and watershed restoration projects. The Tahoe Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to raising money for environmental improvement projects that support lake clarity, recreation and stewardship in the Tahoe Basin, is organizing the program on behalf of the public agencies.

“Tahoe plates support the work we do to restore lake clarity and improve recreation around Lake Tahoe,” said Patrick Wright, Executive Director of the California Tahoe Conservancy. “We are so thankful to the resorts for their partnership in making this very popular program happen again this year.”

The resorts participating in the promotion include Diamond Peak, Heavenly Valley, Homewood Mountain Resort, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, Northstar California, Royal Gorge Cross Country, Sierra at Tahoe, Squaw Valley|Alpine Meadows, Sugar Bowl, Tahoe Cross Country and Tahoe Donner.

Information on how to purchase a plate and redeem free tickets is available at TahoePlates. The promotion is available from now until April 1. Some restrictions apply.

Olympic Valley Looks Good 11/4/15

Incorporate Olympic Valley: State Controller Review Shows The Incorporation Is Financially Viable
by Mark http://unofficialalpine.com

Incorporate Olympic Valley board members had plenty to smile about

Incorporate Olympic Valley board members had plenty to smile about

Incorporate Olympic Valley board members had plenty to smile about at last night’s IOV monthly meeting.

The numbers have been crunched and the news is looking very good if you are in favor of local control and self determination. At last night’s IOV monthly community meeting, the numbers are showing that the new town of Olympic Valley is most certainly financially viable.

It’s been a long three years of “David vs Goliath” battle over the incorporation of Olympic Valley. The opponents to the movement have continued to throw up obstacles thorough the process. The most recent obstacle was the release of the draft Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis. The study, produced by RSG, was released by the Placer County Local Agency Formation Committee (LAFCO) in July – and it surprised many by coming to a conclusion that the incorporation may not be fiscally viable.

Fortunately, the LAFCO guidelines allows for CFA documents to be reviewed by the State Controller’s office. That review was requested in August, at a cost of $125,000, which was funded fully by Incorporate Olympic Valley. After a 45 day extensive audit, the State Controller’s Office (SCO) released their findings last week. IOV had requested that the SCO review 31 different issues with the draft CFA, claiming it was flawed. When the work was done, SCO sided favorably with IOV on 18 of 31 of the issues. Unfortunately, the state report did not include inputing RSG’s errors into the CFA with correct numbers and an assessment of viability.

Over the last week, IOV’s muncipal finance expert and former city manager, Tom Sinclair, has been crunching the numbers and the new town is looking to be very prosperable.. Over a 10 year period, the new town of Olympic Valley has the capability of generating a reserve fund in excess of $15 million – without the addition of any new taxes. That’s a far different story that the millions of dollars in losses projected by RSG, in their draft CFA,, due to the 18 separate errors made in their draft CFA.

A quick graph that summarizes income versus expenditures, resulting in a large reserve built over 10 years for Olympic Valley.

A quick graph that summarizes income versus expenditures, resulting in a large reserve built over 10 years for Olympic Valley.

IOV officials sent a letter to LAFCO Executive Officer Kris Berry requesting that RSG make the necessary adjustment to the 18 items noted as erraneous by the State Controller’s office in their review. At last night’s meeting, IOV Chairperson Fred Ilfeld offered a quick synopsis of some of the most important changes at tonight’s meeting:

• The Draft CFA should include Olympic Valley’s proportionate share of the cost of North Lake Tahoe regional marketing, transportation and infrastructure improvement services in the calculation of property tax revenue to be transferred to the Town. This adjustment would bring $12 million of additional revenue to OV over ten years, and also result in $7 million dollars in additional expenses. The net gain is $5 million over 10 years. (Issue #2)

• The Draft CFA should use future residential development sales values and resulting assessed values as reported by the Village at Squaw Valley developer. Numbers recently released by the Squaw Valley Public Services District show that the CFA grossly understates the future assessed values in OV. The adjusted expected assessment values increase revenues by $2.7 million over 10 years. (Issue #6)

• The Draft CFA should use existing law enforcement levels of service, adjusted by an annual CPI factor as the basis for Town law enforcement costs. RSG suggests much more law enforcement for OV than what is currently being provided by Placer County. Following the SCO recommendation, approximately $2.7 million less can be spent on law enforcement over 10 years. (Issue #15)

• The Draft CFA should match future (personnel) service levels with existing service levels. The “cost allocation for O/H and Admin” factor should be deleted from the Community Development Department expenditures. RSG suggested nearly 3 times more staffing than what is currently offered by the County. Following the SCO recommendation, approximately $1.7 million can be saved over 10 years. (Issue #16)

The conclusions drawn by the State Controllers Office are quite different that the conclusion reached by Andy Wirth regarding the draft CFA in August.

There aren’t enough pencils and erasers in the world to make the numbers work.” — Andy Wirth, Squaw Valley CEO, following the initial release of the draft Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis

It’s clear that Incorporate Olympic Valley Officials have done their homework in making sure that in following the State Controllers Office guidelines, the town of Olympic Valley will be financially viable. The full details of the their findings are detailed in their letter to LAFCO this week. We applaud their diligence.

In contrast, Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth, and incorporation opponents Save Olympic Valley, quickly used the State Controllers Office report to quickly claim victory in the battle over incorporation. Less than one day after the SCO report was released, an article appeared in Rocklin Today declaring that SCO had shown that incorporation was not financially feasible. Andy Wirth attempted to “dumb it down” for readers:

“IOV proponents requested and paid for the review because they argued that the CFA was deeply flawed. We now know their belief was incorrect because the State Controller validated most of the work performed by RSG Consulting.” Andy Wirth, Squaw Valley CEO, in Rocklin Today

It appears that Wirth didn’t spend enough time on his homework.

The Next Steps
Incorporate Olympic Valley officials are unsure of how long it may take to get the draft CFA updated with the new numbers. IOV consultant Steve Hoch suggested that “we’re entering uncharted territory.” While other agencies have utilized the State Controller review process, it appears that few, if any, have resulted in such substantiative changes to a CFA document. The required revenue neutrality negotiations with Placer county cannot begin until the CFA is corrected.

Placer County LAFCO, at the insistence of opponents, have requireded that Incorporate Olympic Valley pay the cost for a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR),as part of the incorporation process. It does seem odd that a townincorporation will require a full EIR, even though not a shovel of earth will be turned, nor a stream diverted, or a tree removed. It just seems to be another financial hurdle putin place by those opposed to the incorporation.

The total cost of the EIR plus retaining experts is expected to reach over $200,000. That’s unfortunate, as IOV just paid nearly the same amount for the CFA from RSG ($85K) and the review of the flawed CFA by the SCO ($125K). While they have had some very generous donations over the last three years, the fundraising needs to really kick into high gear now. IOV Chair Fred Ilfeld noted that “it’s time for the community to step forward with their checkbooks.”

“An investment of $250,00 today will bring back millions of dollars directly to the community over the next 10 years – money that would otherwise be lost to Placer County.” – Tuck Wilson, Squaw Valley homeowner

IOV Boardmember Lisa Cardin noted that the Poulsen and Cushing families faced equally great hurdles when it came to making their dreams come to reality in the valley.

“We owe it to our forefathers to protect what they started. The $250,000 we need now is just a drop in the bucket compared to the $750,000 already spent by Squaw Valley to stop the incorporation.” – Lisa Cardin, IOV boardmember

We encourage you to consider supporting the effort to incorporate the town of Olympic Valley. We’ve seen time and time again that we cannot leave the future of Lake Tahoe to KSL Capital and Placer County. We believe that we need local people to be in control over what the future of the region looks like. More information about donating or volunteering time to the Incorporate Olympic Valley movement can be found at the IOV website.

Keep Squaw True 10/21/15

An Overflow Crowd At The Placer County Supervisors’ Meeting
by Mark http://unofficialalpine.com

Photo via Keep Squaw True

Photo via Keep Squaw True

The Placer County Board Of Supervisors met in Kings Beach yesterday to hear updates on a number of development projects around Lake Tahoe. Amongst those that were discussed were the Village at Squaw Valley and the proposed gondola connection between Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley.

According to numerous reports, the meeting was overcrowded, over-filling the meeting room at the North Tahoe Event Center. From the today’s Sierra Watch press release:

…the room was literally overflowing with volunteers wearing Keep Squaw True t-shirts. At one point, the Chair of the meeting gently interrupted Mooers to ask the crowd to watch the meeting from another room − in order to avoid upsetting the Fire Marshall.

“They just wanted to make sure that you get a chance to see them,” responded Mooers, “and to let you know how many people are here to stand up for the future of Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe.”

While we have covered all of the details here before, we’re happy to include a letter to the Board, written by Andy Hays of Squaw Valley, and read to the Board at the meeting:

Good Morning,

As I humbly stand before you today it would be easy for me to tell you that this proposal is too vast and too large. Simply because it is.

It would be easy for me to talk about the fact that this proposal is out of touch with the culture and values of the region as a whole. Because it is.

It would be quite easy for me to stand before you and point out that this project lacks all sense of imagination, and innovation, that it fails to represent a vision for the future. On the contrary, it is simply put, a tired and outdated rehashing of virtually every ski resort redevelopment project undertaken in the last twenty years. Redevelopments, that have undeniably been met with limited success. Because that’s exactly what it is.

However today I chose to appeal to the board in the universal language, the language of money and revenue.

This parcel represents one of the most valuable assets that the county possesses, and with that asset comes opportunity. I strongly believe that we owe it to ourselves to ensure that we approve a plan that not only benefits the region in the short term but also provides for the future generations.

In the strongest terms I question the wisdom in granting the applicant’s request for a 25 year development entitlements. We do not live in a static world, the notion that a project that is approved today, will be representative of the needs of the region a quarter century from now is naive at best and irresponsible at worst.

I ask the board to look deeply, given the specter of climate change, given the fluctuations in trends in the ski and leisure industry, given cultural and economic developments that haven’t even been imagined yet, does this proposal set us up for the future or damn us to be stuck in the past, with an outdated model before it has even been completed?

With a project of this scale, a scale that will unavoidably reshape the character of the entire region, is it responsible to hand over the reins to one unproven entity to define our collective future?

I stand before you and I tell you it is not. I believe the voices we’ve heard in this room today can be summed up into one ideal. The people of this community want a bigger voice. The people of this community want to see a more tempered approach.

The viability of this project should not hinge on being allowed to have free reign for a generation. Show us results. Show us tangible benefits. Show us commitment and allow the community itself to decide if it wants to proceed. We should not be forced to wait 25 years before we can measure if the promises that have been made along the way have been met.

I believe it is the board’s responsibility to the future of this county and its residents to deny the development agreement for 25 years. If the developer is choosing to build out in phases, the county should retain the rights of approval for each future step. The builder cites changes in the industry and changes in the economy. I believe it is right to anticipate these challenges, and that the rights of the community are best served with the ability to evaluate our future when we get there.

– Andy Hays, Squaw Valley

Kudos is due to everybody that took the time to show up to the Board meeting yesterday. We need to stand together to protect Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley and the rest of the North Lake Tahoe from over-development.

We have to say that the number of large scale projects proposed in the Tahoe region of Placer County is a bit frightening!

We have to say that the number of large scale projects proposed in the Tahoe region of Placer County is a bit frightening!

Goodbye KSL 10/7/15

http://unofficialalpine.com

LastResort

Several readers noted that the official SquAlpine site has listed opening dates once for the 2015-16 season. In doing so, they have made it clear that they really don’t care what anyone thinks about their operational plans. Just like the last few seasons, since KSL Capital purchased Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley will begin operations more than two full weeks before Alpine Meadows.

It’s a slap in the face to the Alpine Meadows faithful, whom started skiing and riding at Alpine Meadows because of its early and late season operations. It’s that same group of people that aren’t really interested in going over to Squaw Valley to ski those first 16 days. Most of us have lockers at Alpine Meadows, and we’re not interested in riding a shuttle bus, walking through and shopping in the village, nor standing in a long Funitel line so we can go stand in a long line at Gold Coast. We just want to ski and ride without all of the fuss.

It looks like I’ll just be going to Boreal and Mount Rose for the those early season turns. Rose plans to open limited terrain on October 29th, and it’s a good bet that Boreal will be spinning the Castle Peak quad by Halloween. As we reported last year, we spent our entire pre-season at Boreal and it just felt better. Having the Mount Rose option in addition will be icing on the cake.

KSL-FreeWe’ve been saying it all summer, it’s time for a change at Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley. It’s time for KSL to move back into the shopping mall and golf resort business. Today, we’re introducing our campaign to “Keep Tahoe KSL Free”. It’s not enough anymore to just Free Alpine, as Squaw Valley needs to be freed as well. Stickers will be available soon.

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