What you need to know about Sierra Watch’s Lawsuit against Placer County Board of Supervisors regarding its approval of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings plans for development at Squaw Valley Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe, CA:
The Lawsuit, brought by Sierra Watch, alleges that Placer County officials gave documents, pertaining to the development, to the Board of Supervisors less than 72 hours before the public meeting and did not make them available to the public. Placer County allegedly failed to list the contents of those documents in the agenda to avoid litigation from the California State Attorney General, Kamala Harris, who had expressed her dissapproval of the project and the lack of conclusions written out in the Environmental Impact Report pertaining to air quality, lake clarity and green house gas emissions in a letter to the County in August 2016.
The trial is set for March 6, 2018.
Placer County Board of Supervisors approved the Squaw Valley Village redevelopment project on November 15, 2016. The plan outlines the area to be developed into a destination resort village with:
- 94 Acres (82 Acres of which are on existing asphalt)
- 850 units
- 1, 493 bedrooms
- Employee housing for 300 employees
- stream restoration
- $440,862 in air quality payments to TRPA
- Mountain adventure camp, indoor/outdoor recreation facility
- 90,000 square foot water park
The project is planned to be constructed over the next 25 years.
Sierra Watch claims that Placer County Board of Supervisors violated the Brown Act when it approved Squaw Valley’s plans for redevelopment.
“Specifically, Sierra Watch cites two violations of the Brown Act in the suit. First, it alleges that County staff, in violation of the law, gave documents to the Board of Supervisors less than 72 hours before the public meeting that weren’t simultaneously made available to the public.
Second, the County failed to give notice in the agenda for its November hearing that the Board of Supervisors would be considering the deal, detailed in those very same documents, to avoid litigation by the Attorney General over impacts to Lake Tahoe as part of the proposed project’s Development Agreement.” – Keep Squaw True Summary of Petition and Complaint
If Sierra Watch wins the suit it would prevent any of the interested parties in going forward with the project and would require the project be presented to the public in full compliance of the Brown Act.
Placer County contains 40% of Lake Tahoe Shoreline, more than any other of the 4 counties surrounding the Lake.
Placer County is made up of 5 districts, with a supervisor assigned to each. The purple section denotes the area of district 5, the Section of Auburn to North Lake Tahoe. Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Martis Valley and the communities of Tahoe City, Tahoe Vista, Kings Beach, parts of Truckee, much of the shoreline of North Tahoe and the West Shore of Lake Tahoe are within the Placer County Boarders.
The Brown Act
“Local legislative bodies – such as boards, councils and commissions – are created in recognition of the fact that several minds are better than one, and that through debate and discussion, the best ideas will emerge. The law which guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies is the Ralph M. Brown Act.” – State Attorney General Bill Lockyer
Preamble of the Brown Act
“Public commissions, boards, councils and other legislative bodies of local government agencies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. The people do not yield their sovereignty to the bodies that serve them. The people insist on remaining informed to retain control over the legislative bodies they have created.”
“Sierra Watch works to protect great places in the Sierra Nevada by turning development threats into conservation opportunities. Founded in 2001, the Nevada City based non-profit has built a remarkable track record in land preservation in Tahoe’s Martis Valley, on Donner Summit, and for other treasured Sierra landscapes.” -Keep Squaw True
Sierra Watch also filed a case against Placer County on Dec 14, 2016 under the Environmental Quality Act citing issues with the Environment Impact Report (EIR) for the project.
The community based environmental organization made up of Placer County/ Lake Tahoe area residents is concerned with the projects impacts on added traffic to the already congested area and it’s impact on Lake Tahoe’s famous clarity, which is already decreasing at an alarming rate.
KSL Capital Partners current owner of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings
KSL has $1 billion dollars invested into the redevelopment of the Squaw Valley Village.
“KSL Capital Partners is dedicated to investing in travel and leisure businesses. Since 2005, KSL has raised four dedicated private equity funds and two dedicated credit funds with over $7.5 billion in equity commitments across our various investment vehicles. Our investments range across travel and leisure businesses, such as hotels and resorts, clubs, ﬁtness, family entertainment, skiing and resort real estate.” KSL
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA)
TRPA is a bi-state agency that works with the States of California and Nevada as well as the five counties and two cities surrounding Lake Tahoe. It is governed by a 15 member board with 7 members chosen by the State of California, 7 members chosen by the State of Nevada and 1 non voting member chosen by the President of the United States.
TRPA works with Placer County to approve building permits within the Lake Tahoe Basin.