Photographer: Max Rainoldi Location: Squaw Valley Stables, Olympic Valley, CA 96146
If you haven’t been following the fight over the suburbanization of Squaw Valley, I’ll fill you in and I promise to be as unbiased as Fox News in the process… Fair and Balanced, Right? Last week the Placer County Planning Department voted to kiss Andy Wirth and KSL Capital Partners on the forehead and recommend the project move forward. It will now go to the County Supervisors for final approval. The project calls for the construction of 850 residential units, a 300,000 square foot commercial space and a 90,000 square foot Adventure Center (oh boy, indoor recreation… that’s why I go to the mountains…) Did I leave out improvement to the ski hill, oh yeah, so did KSL.
Despite over a 3:1 ratio of public comments and hundreds of people against the project, as well as testament from the California Highway Patrol, Sierra Club and the California State Attorney General that the plan, as it stands now, would over tax the existing infrastructure, the development plan was allowed to go forward by a panel that seemed extremely bored while listening to the impassioned speeches from both sides. Word on the street is that Squaw actually bussed employees in for the meeting with promises of a free breakfast and what not, hell, they were probably paid shills as well, development mercenaries, firing opinions at will. Opinions for dollars… how could you go wrong? As much justice and equity as money can buy…
Any of us that have been skiing at Squaw or Alpine on a Sunday and had to file out with the skier traffic Northbound knows that the existing highway infrastructure is already maxed out. You might sit in traffic for what seems like hours while it crawls toward 80 and the inevitable slog back West to the suburbs of the Grey Area. With that many more people imagine a wildfire like the ones we have seen on TV lately where every auto and building goes up in smoke. In a rapid evacuation scenario, there is just no way those folks are making it out of harms way on Highway 89. Ain’t gunna happen. Might as well sit yourself down in Cushing Pond and hope you can hold your breath for a long time while the fire burns overhead as sit in your mobile BBQ on wheels.
Not to mention the effect on the mountain, the local stores (try grocery shopping in Truckee on a holiday, you need insurance on your cart AND your mental health as it is now). In terms of emergencies… the medical infrastructure is also not up to the task. Getting ambulances and firetrucks up or down Highway 89 in traffic… well, as they say in The Bronx… “Forget about it.”
The meeting for the passage of the development plan (read: Death Star) with the Placer County Supervisors has not been set yet but we will keep you informed. And in terms of KSL’s integrity, let me remind you that not much has been done on the ski hill itself to improve the aging infrastructure despite all the high minded promises Andy Wirth and KSL came to the table with when they first purchased the property. One thing did happen, Alpine Meadows is no longer the layback wonderfully smaller little sister of world famous Squaw Valley. Instead, its become merely KSL’s Cinderella and there are many of us old timers out here hoping Alpine finds her Winter Fairy Godmother sooner than later and that this whole thing goes up in smoke so that Alpine can once more return to her former glory.
To get more info please check out Andrew Pridgen’s new article in the latest electronic edition of Powder which just arrived in my inbox today at:
OPINION: The Rebels’ Attempt in Squaw
It is well worth it and offers some great new shirt designs.