Olympic Valley ends incorporation bid

Supporters of an effort to incorporate the small Sierra Nevada community of Olympic Valley have backed off their plans.

With Squaw Valley ski resort planning an expansion over the next 25 years, including hotels, condos and commercial properties, some residents thought incorporation would give them greater control over the community’s direction.

But members of Incorporate Olympic Valley sent a letter Tuesday to the Placer County Local Agency Formation Commission saying “it is clear that the hostility from the county and others has made it hard for your commissioners to support our proposal.”

The incorporation bid received a blow when the commission’s consultant found that the newly formed town would not be financially viable. Incorporate Olympic Valley disagreed and asked the State Controller’s Office to review the consultant’s report.

The controller’s office reviewed the findings of the commission’s consultant, but no one could agree on what the resulting report actually said.

Squaw Valley, which opposed incorporation, said the controller’s review supported its position. Incorporation advocates said the state report backed their point of view.

Kris Berry, the commission’s executive director, said she struggled to understand the state’s findings, even after meeting with the controller’s office. In the end, she said she continued to support the original conclusion that a town was not financially viable. The consultant’s finding was based heavily on the idea that the resort community needed a substantial reserve fund to buffer itself against swings in the economy and weather.

She recommended that the five-member commission vote against the proposal, a decision that could have come as early as January. She said commissioners indicated at last month’s meeting that they oppose incorporation.

Andy Wirth, president and CEO of the Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, said he is relieved that proponents have shelved their plan. He said the proposal had generated animosity in the community.

“I’m most interested in putting this behind us and making this a more unified community,” said Wirth.

He said he thinks that can happen, in part because he previously served on a community board with the incorporation effort’s leader, Dr. Fred Ilfeld, at Ilfeld’s request.

Neither Ilfeld nor other incorporation proponents were available for comment Tuesday. The group announced its decision in a news release.