Resort residents want to form town to exert more control over land use
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — The never-ending ski town battle between local residents and corporate interests has morphed into a new form at historic Squaw Valley. Residents are on a quest to incorporate a new town, to be called Olympic Valley, and they’re crowdsourcing for financial support on indiegogo.com.
Using web-based social networks may be a new twist, but many of the issues are the same that affect many other mountain communities, as real estate exploitation and environmental degradation threaten the very values that made those towns so appealing to begin with.
The citizens pushing for incorporation say they want to bring land-use planning and decision-making to the local level — where it belongs — rather than leaving it at the mercy of a corporate boardroom. The proposed city would include 500 registered voters and about 1,300 year round residents — who would be most affected by massive real estate speculation.
KSL Capital Partners, a Denver-based equity company that invests in leisure and resort properties, controls the private base-area real estate. The development proposal that spurred the incorporation push came back in 2011, calling for phased development of about 101 acres, with more than 1,000 new lodging units and 47,000 square feet of commercial space.
That level of development that didn’t sit well with some residents who don’t want to see another cookie cutter megaresort.
The residents who back formation of a town still face several hurdles, including completion of environmental and fiscal studies and an application and approval process with a local agency formation commission that must sign off on the push for cityhood. That approval would be linked with a financial agreement to make sure that county interests aren’t harmed. The logistics of incorporation are detailed at this FAQ page on the incorporateolympicvalley.org website.
To complete its mission, the group is trying raise $25,000 to pay for additional legal and administrative costs, the comprehensive fiscal analysis, and other costs associated with the incorporation process.