Planning Commission recommends approval for Village at Squaw project

Published on August 11, 2016

The Placer County Planning Commission has voted 4-2 to recommend approval of the Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan and the certification of the project environmental impact report. Commissioner Fred Arcuri was absent. The project now goes to the board of supervisors.

Under the plan, 94 acres in Squaw Valley would be transformed into a destination resort village offering numerous resort residential lodging options and amenities. Up to 850 units with a maximum of 1,493 bedrooms would be developed. The plan includes new hotel, resort residential, retail, restaurants and bars, entertainment and public and private recreational facilities. Also included would be the Mountain Adventure Camp, an indoor and outdoor recreation facility.

An initial planned employee housing development would accommodate up to 300 employees, more than half of what will ultimately be required to meet the county’s workforce housing requirement for new development by the completion of the project.

As part of the project, two streams that were altered for the 1960 Winter Olympics would be restored and new wetlands created, helping reverse erosion and the degradation of habitat for fish.

Addressing comments submitted in response to the project’s final environmental impact report, county staff explained that while the project would increase traffic in the Tahoe Basin, the increase by approximately 1 percent of the total daily number of vehicle miles traveled would not exceed the existing threshold for the basin, and would be somewhat offset by the project’s investment in public transit improvements.

Representatives from a number of partner agencies spoke to the influence the project would have on their operations. The regional trail network would be improved sustainably under the conditions of the proposed development agreement, the U.S. Forest Service told commissioners. Increasing traffic on already congested roads, though, remained a concern of the California Highway patrol. Local fire officials joined Placer County Sheriff’s Office and Placer County Office of Emergency Services staff in reporting that emergency responders would still be fully capable of evacuating Olympic Valley if necessary, adding that the need for a full evacuation even in a wildfire emergency would be unlikely.

Acknowledging the unavoidable impacts to traffic congestion the project would create, county staff noted that it would also offer significant public benefits by providing annual funding contributions for public transit improvements, parks and trails and future public works projects - beyond what would be required as mitigation for the increased demand it would create for those amenities. Traffic improvements might be achieved through changes to state Route 89, though these would depend on Caltrans to build them, and so couldn't be guaranteed to offer relief.

Once the date and location for the board of supervisors meeting is set, that information will be widely shared with the public.