“City House, Country House” | Can Mountain People Really Run Squaw Valley?

Andy Hays | | Featured ArticleFeatured Article

city house, country house

City House, Country House

by Andy Hays

In their most recent advertisement the ironically named, Squaw financed coalition, Save Olympic Valley (SOV) enlisted a pair of second home owners, San Francisco couple Terry and Heidi Deveau, to share their concerns with the incorporation efforts. 

We’re concerned that Squaw does not have enough qualified people to run a town…”

Yes, they decided to go there, It seems Andy Wirth and his friends don’t think that you are smart and capable enough to govern yourselves.  No matter that this is one of the founding principles of this nation.  No matter that all across America you find communities that are incorporated cities, in fact it is more the rule than the exception.  Not this mountain town, however,  I suppose your college degree, life and professional experiences just don’t add up to all that much, because, well, you know, you live in the mountains.  City people just know better, because well, they just do.  Mr. Wirth doesn’t live in the city but he has money, and money trumps any other qualifier.  Besides, his company is from Denver, and Denver is kind of a city, albeit in the mountains so the jury is still out on that one.

Squaw Valley USA.  photo:  snowbrains.com
Squaw Valley USA. photo: snowbrains.com

City people who own homes in the mountains know the most because they know what’s best for themselves and they also know what is best for mountain people even though mountain people sometimes don’t know it and just need a little push in the right direction.  That’s where Mr. Wirth steps in.  He’s kind of pushy.  He also likes to wear plaid which allows him to blend in with the mountain people.  He also wears fleece vests which allow him to blend in with real estate agents.   Mountain people don’t know how to dress.  Sure they can dress for the side of a mountain but they can’t dress to run a town.  Mountain people would probably show up to council meetings in a hooded sweat shirt or something.  I’m not convinced mountain people even own ties.  Wearing ties is a major requirement of running a town.


Country Folk.
Country Folk.

City people know complicated city things like alternate parking that gives them special insight into how  government works.  They also use things like public transportation and sewers and water which means they know a great deal about it.  Mountain people are inherently lazy and don’t worry about the future.  City people worry about the future…but not too much because their portfolios are diversified and are beating industry averages.  When City people were in college they spent theirSunday evenings in the library.  If mountain people went to college they spent their time drinking beverages out of some kind of funnel.  Mountain people still have outstanding fines at the library from the one book took out.  Mountain people don’t read, they only look at the pictures.

City Folk.  photo: snowbrains.com
City Folk. photo: snowbrains.com

City people like the mountains but they don’t like the mountains without their city stuff. Hence the Starbucks on the top of the mountain.  Mr. Wirth wants to make Squaw look like a city but rather ironically he wants to prevent it from becoming one in reality.    Perhaps if he could annex it to San Francisco.  Clearly Mr. and Mrs. Deveau know a thing or two about what it takes to run a town, or at least they seem to know what it doesn’t take.  That’s all that counts really.

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22 thoughts on ““City House, Country House” | Can Mountain People Really Run Squaw Valley?

  1. Gary Davis says on facebook that people with little knowledge are aring opinions: so was the water board who’s gm was directed to publish a correction about his claim that there’s only enough water for 100 homes. How can people be knowledgable from spinned press releases? It’s time facts and figures were table to a body of unbiased people.

  2. Oh and as long as we are fixated on fashion in this article… I do know a city guy who attends most meetings in a tee shirt, jeans and a famous hoddie…Mark Zuckerberg. Seems to have worked out for him.

  3. Deveaus never said that people in Squaw were not smart. Terry Deveau served on the Mutual Water Board for 8 years. He left because he wanted to spend his weekend skiing and not in some meeting. Bastard! Seriously, he knows how tough it is to fill the positions on even the Mutual. There just are not enough people living in Squaw full time who has the WILL and background to do these civil servant jobs well on a volunteer basis. It was not meant to be a slight.

    1. @ Coyote-
      I appreciate your comment about Mr Deveaus. His reputation in fact is that he is a community minded individual who has worked hard – as has Gary Davis (even though both have opined against incorporation). But who says that being a town council member has to be a volunteer position? There are community minded leaders in S.V. who would want to be on a town council – especially if a reasonable stipend was involved. There are individuals on the SVPSD who have been board members for over 20 years. There are in fact many concerned and capable leaders that live full time in Squaw – just my 2 cents
      @ On The Fence-
      If you can, please come to the next IOV public meeting @ the SVPSD building on Tuesday May 6th @ 7PM to discuss the issues you raise in your post. That invitation goes out to everyone, both for and against incorporation.

      1. The law sets remuneration based on size of the town so a small town council are only allowed to earn peanuts. You’d make more money as a ksl community activist. I think the going rate is $7k a month to do nuffin all day long.

  4. This is a somewhat entertaining but Sophomoric read. It is time that there is construction discussion on both sides of the fence.

    1. Typo : Constructive not Construction. It is late and my eyes are crossed from reading pablum.

  5. While I’m in favor of a town, it needs adults. not slogans

    Writes Fred Ilfeld: “the creation of a Town of Olympic Valley will qualitatively improve the experiences of residents and visitors alike over the long haul.” How?

    1. What did IOV, FosV and Watch do for employees, and what can it do?

    2. Kids in school. On Tahoe TV one IOV leader said there’s no school What’s the big building in the carpark on a 3 year lease near where Shirley’s trails start? Where will you put it? Or did the nimbys forget the kids?

    3. I don’t recall IOV ever mentioning what it can do for commercial tenants, ie those who face abuse under relocation clauses or who face blocking in by construction work. Or face competition from food trucks. I don’t recall IOV saying it’d proactively ensure that restaurant workers can get past crowds to work during events like Ironman. Are local businesses in favor of IOV?

    4. I recall IOV reps posted they’d charge timeshares and their guests more in taxes, ie make non voters pay more and maybe make Squaw less attractive. And now IOV don’t like SOV saying taxes will rise (ie on Redwolf, OVI, The Lodge, KSL’s & Resort at Squaw Creek.

    5. I recall that FoSV people want the SVPSD to buy the Stables – with other people’s money – and build a community center (or turn it into wetland:- they can’t make up their minds!). Spending PSD money on that nice idea will be passed on to everyone else, won’t it, a bit like a tax?

    6. What’s this community center going to do? Will it be your free town admin center? Will it have a day center or kindergarten for locals? Will it be a museum to sell coffee and cakes with 75 year old volunteer labor, no barista training, and operational costs funded by the sale of t-shirts?

    7. $200,000 a year in rent sounds lovely? Will you sublet the marble-top kitchen in the $6m station? Why not share with the Museum: I think they wanted $4m of other people’s money to build a place on land that Congress banned from selling t-shirts, coffee and cakes. Got a spare $4m and a few congressman in your pocket?

    8. How are ski towns that are run by locals different and better to towns dominated by Placer? Placer subsidizes the bus scheme. I know Washoe was contributing $350,000: will IOV have $350,000 in spare change for its share, or is the talk about mass transit just talk.

    9. As committees talked and talked, did they actually ask KSL to consider lots of things and maybe move things around? Be straight: the right plan could’ve been a Towering Inferno with dangerous access narrow routes with lanes that a fire truck can’t get around. Who at these talks advocated lots and lots of little issues that helped KSL’s ‘brilliant’ designers think ‘fark, Speilberg wants Squaw for a disaster movie”?

    With respect IOV and KSL are quick with the one liners without detail: and then blame the other for lack of detail. Surely all these smart people have detailed costed answers by now. What are they? What can IOV do with sub-contracted services that Placer can’t?

  6. I don’t wear ties, but do wear ski pants every day. Also, my mom tells me that I’m smart.

  7. Good call Zzzzz.
    Some of us went to a meeting. ho hum, and back for a phone link to the ‘secret sov meeting’. There’s a lot who’d like to support IOV if it came across as a real alternative to Placer with real (and costed) ideas.

    When I looked into the figures there was a lot more. and look at the waste of taxpayers $: $7.5m for buses that’ll run at up to $290 per passenger – give the 3500 passengers a car, it’s cheaper!. $94,000 for a bus stop, $34m for a bit of road, $5m for a bus terminal on a bridge that can’t handle the traffic? The County and the ’empire building bureaucrats’ are perhaps no better.

    I like the idea of the middle ground “Squaw 150” knocking heads together.

  8. Although entreating and a “fun” read, I find this piece to fall in line with the increasingly boring school yard antics initiated or better yet CONTINUED by both sides. Let’s get some positive direction and engage in a legitimate conversation. You know, one filled with creative and positive solutions that BOTH sides can contribute. These opinions, and “I told you so” articles and PR posts are beginning to put us to sleep…

  9. Not only can Mr. Hays send the Chimney like a boss but can write with the best of them as well. Great piece I totally get the underlining message, props to you my man.

  10. The opposition of the developer, KSL, to Incorporation is about perceived PROFIT, period. In actuality the creation of a Town of Olympic Valley will qualitatively improve the experiences of residents and visitors alike over the long haul. But a private equity firm is not about the long haul.

    1. Fred,
      I’m just one of the non-voting 7500 that didn’t gabfest at DRC meetings, rather some of us spoke to media about real news, looked at $800m in grants for innovative engineering, inputted into the redesign with help from a retired planner from Washoe… and inputted into regional based policy possibilities – Montgomery said she knew the county was under scrutiny. It was by picking up the phone, looking at plans, looking at sites for things like the employee housing with the wraparound carpark, suggesting deed restrictions to protect employees from rents in crap seasons, light rail, traffic management, road realignments, easements, easements under the school site, stupid Museum ideas, grants/bond funding, and talking to those on the reservation at Pyramid Lake. As far as I know, Sierra enviromentalists screwed up a court settlement agreement because they overlooked something. Half your board ‘went skiing’ instead of meeting as far as I know: I didn’t see the mass transit lady sink the bus scheme to free up the day parking. I didn’t see the hotel design guy tell KSL that that they better beware of a few problems in the management/sale contracts. I didn’t see the lass on the water board say ‘yep we know all about the 8 mile pipes and cables and the way itll add 2% to power bills per $10m of infrastructure’. I haven’t seen IOV advocate for an community-based programs. On the other hand KSL people are on some committees that made attempts to try things (many failed according to their own minutes – they can’t impliment and follow thru imo). Andy (whether you agree its good or not) presented at Visitcalifornia in 2012, there’s work on air ports, possible resort cars for fly-in guests, mass marketing with regional tourism agencies and foreign tv stations to bring midweek tourism $ into Tahoe. KSL also worked with other lodgings in Vista and up in Reno too: they spread the love. Sure they’re salvitating at 300,000 people a year coming (they hope) to a huge swimming pool but at least they welcomed the idea of product differentiation by adding training facilities like jumps for aerials: good for tourists and good for aspiring athletes. But did IOV or FoSv or SW or the DRC advocate any ideas for a win/win? Nope. Did any of them look at interlined agreements with other resorts in case another poor season fills the slopes? Did any get deals with interstate resorts to take the kids there to free up congestion at embattled AM? No.

      It’s easy to say that township will improve things: KSl can make the same ambit claim. Show us what improvements that make IOV stand head and shoulders above Placer. Show us that IOV can stand up to that group who pee their pants with glee as they tell the DRC how to do KSL in. Get your own architect to turn KSL’s plans into a 3D graphic so a computer can ‘walk us through’ the place and show shadow, light and mass. Come up with innovations. And get KSL signed up.

      Btw, at Jay Peak the rezoning was later used to change bylaws. You want to stay on top of these developers coz they can be sneaky.

      eg Jay Peak Resort

      Jay Peak Recreation Center The Town of Jay Planning/Zoning Commission unanimously approved a permit to build a 7,500 sq. foot indoor recreation center near the Stateside Hotel site. The facility will include a multi-level climbing wall and ropes course, movie theater, bowling alley, arcade, and concession area to provide guests with indoor recreation opportunities year around, regardless of the weather. Next, plans are scheduled to be reviewed by the District 7 Environmental Commission for an Act 250 permit.”

      1. I did not mean to vote “+” for Sam’s email, I meant to vote “-“, but I mistakenly hit the “thumbs up button”. Where is the “thumbs down” button? Please correct my vote to Sam’s post – which means that his “rating” should be “0”. Can I vote again with another “thumbs down” vote for Sam’s post? – in which case his “rating” would be “-1”.

        1. Hey JADMD, we don’t have a thumbs down. Trying to keep it as positive as possible. thanks.

    2. I’m not a chimney hucker or an ‘expert’ ex treasurer of a mega group company that bribed Russians and Mexicans and is named in reports by associations of pension funds as a poster child for reforming governance and othe laws.

      However as far as I can tell , IOV could easily have a lot more in recurrent funding – i hope your people told you

      or AW could do something smarter than write that pathetic letter to Lafco: it’s what he missed that’s glaring.

      Just as Montgomery and the ex Truckee politician knows they’re under scrutiny, let’s see IOV win the hearts and minds and let’s see KSL build soul and a community into the plans.

      1. Fred, did you ever see the communique from the SOV guy, find out what was discussed at the ‘secret meeting’ on April 4th? and who said “What’s in it for me” at KSL’s Presentation in January 2014? You’re all like wallflowers at the prom. Ask Andy to dance.

  11. Assuming the town of 500 adults has a dozen ot ten dozen experienced people, please ask who will devote the next 4 years or longer – almost unpaid for a town that small – to tiresome committee meetings, board meetings , reading, and putting up with agendas and personality crap.

    Who will be admin, and do the same (apart from Van Nort who seems very promising).

    Look at the design changes in the right plan and ask yourself ‘who at any noisy committee moved, cut, dumped, realigned or sewered a single thing in any of the latest plans? What have they achieved x the number of hours spent x the number of people at these meetings? Answer: zip. So how did these changes come about?

    Who voted these people as our community reps anyway?

    Why weren’t SOV people aware of issues that only resulted in redesign changes after they were reminded of legal, planning etc things.

    Who was the bozo who put a HP expert up just as the SEC, FBI, IRS and DoJ poped HP over book keeping and bribes. Doh! Any half smart pr knows to ask ‘was your company under investigation for paying off Russians?”. Its PR 101 y’know.

    Btw I didn’t vote Andy as community speaker either.

    You’ll need people who present a real alternative to Placer, not a private little of club of long time pals with a check book to splurge on nice-to-have ideas.

    Who wants to sell coffee and cucumber sandwiches at a museum to make $ IF an Act of Congress can change!???

    Please save our cucumbers from these self appointed ‘community’ reps

  12. Andy, prove that you are a smart mountain person (which you are), and stick to the facts, not ad hominem attacks. I’m on your side, but attacking city people and chief-turd-Wirth does nothing to support to IOV’s cause. Actually, it might suck support away from IOV. The wholesale transformation of the valley into a condo village – whose benefits run almost exclusively to KSL and property owners – should be reason enough to oppose the development. And if IOV is to be successful, it’s going to need the support of OV residents and non-residents alike.

    FWIW, my experience is that mountain folk are generally smarter than city folk (yes I said it) – and a helluva lot more fun.

    – A douchey city guy who supports IOV and hopes KSL’s scorched-earth approach ends up burning them.

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