A New Town of Squaw Valley?
Snowbrain’s interview with Dr. Fred Ilfeld, founding member of Incorporate Olympic Valley
SB: How did the idea of forming a new town of Squaw Valley come about?
FI: One of our group was pondering how the huge changes proposed for the Village development might affect the Valley, when the image of the old classic film, Chinatown, came into his mind. In this film the city of Los Angeles incorporates the Owens Valley on the east side of the Sierra to legally steal its water. He then began to check out all the necessary parameters for incorporation of Olympic Valley, and we fit them all.
SB: Alpine Meadows was briefly considered for the proposed new town, why were they not included?
FI: In two community meetings and a written poll of all the Alpine registered voters a majority preferred not to join Squaw Valley in the incorporation effort. First of all, they were concerned we would take their water, which by State law is impossible without their voting for it. Next, having roughly half the number of registered voters as Squaw, they thought they would be dominated by us. The comeback to this concern is two-fold: 1) Right now 4 out of 5 board supervisors from the other side of the “hill” (Auburn, Roseville) make their decisions for them. Is that better than sharing decision-making with your neighbors in the adjacent valley?; 2) They would have a big say in what happens in the Town by virtue of having several of their residents on the Town Council.
SB: So the concern that the incorporation efforts is being done to get more water for Squaw Valley is not accurate.
Correct, this movement is not about a water grab, nor does the law allow it.
SB: Are there other examples of this being done? How about here in Placer County?
FI: Since the 2000 Cortese Knox Hertzberg law requiring “revenue neutrality” between the county and a new city, there has been an average of one incorporation per year in California. The last incorporation in Placer County was the Town of Loomis, 30 years ago.
SB: The initial fiscal analysis shows the new town will be able to financially support itself. How would services such as Police, Fire and Snow Removal be handled under the new town?
FI: For Fire, there would be little change. Our current Fire Department would continue to handle this area; its financial support comes from property taxes, and that would not be changed. However, we will need additional fire protection from CalFire, and that will cost the Town an extra $58,000/ year. . . Police will be contracted out, since Olympic Valley is way too small to have its own force. Most likely the contract would go to Placer County Sheriff; however, Truckee police could also service the new Town on a contractual basis. . . . Snow Removal would be contracted out by the new Town, most likely to a private contractor. The Town will be able to negotiate for the level of service that we would like, such as more or less frequent plowings.
SB: Will taxes be raised?
FI: By California State law, no new taxes can be imposed in a jurisdiction without the approval of the voters of that jurisdiction.
SB: Can you explain the terms revenue neutrality?
FI: A “revenue neutrality” agreement with Placer County is required prior to incorporation and should “result in a similar exchange of both revenue and responsibility for service delivery among the county, the proposed city and other subject agencies.”. This essentially means that the county should not be hurt financially by the incorporation. The “alimony” are the monies the Town needs to pay the county so they are not harmed monetary-wise.
SB: What are the next steps?
FI: The immediate next steps are turning in the petitions to the registrar of voters and paying a $25,000 deposit to LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission) for initiating the process of incorporation. So at this stage we are fund-raising to bring in those necessary monies.
SB: If people wanna get involved, who do they contact?
FI: We need a number of different skill sets from folks interested in local control for Squaw Valley– knowledge of web-sites; ability to convincingly talk to the many stakeholders, the facility to fund-raise, competence in analyzing budgets, and expertise in negotiating.
Right now the biggest help people can give are tax deductible donations, since our immediate need is having sufficient funds for the deposit to LAFCO so we can move the incorporation process along.
To donate online, please visit our website at http://incorporateolympicvalley.org/.