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Squaw Valley expansion gets green light from planning commission

A drawing from The Village at Squaw Valley specific plan shows an example of pedestrian space. The design is subject to change, according to the document.
A drawing from The Village at Squaw Valley specific plan shows an example of pedestrian space. The design is subject to change, according to the document.

The Placer County Planning Commission voted 4-2 Thursday to recommend approval of an expansion at Squaw Valley, despite opposition from many area residents and business owners.

The planned expansion would add up to 850 residential units with a new hotel, retail space, restaurants and bars. It would also have a “Mountain Adventure Center,” an indoor and outdoor recreation facility.

The plan now goes to the Placer County Board of Supervisors for final approval. A date has not been set for the vote.

In a statement, Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, said the expansion would “position the resort as a true four-season destination, provide more year-round jobs, on-site affordable workforce housing, tens of millions of dollars in other benefits to our local community, and assist in stabilizing the North Lake Tahoe economy.”

A crowd filled a meeting room in Kings Beach during Thursday’s vote, many of them wearing purple shirts saying, “Keep Squaw True,” a statement reflecting their position that the plan clashes with the character of the mountain community. They say the project would also create traffic and environmental problems.

A county staff report says the project would only increase traffic in the Tahoe Basin by 1 percent, not enough to break thresholds set for the area, and public transportation components of the project would help offset some of the traffic. Staff also noted that project includes parks, trails and public works benefits beyond what the county requires for a development of this size.

The state attorney general’s office has raised concerns about the county’s position, sending a letter recently saying that its environmental analysis fails to properly assess the project’s impacts.

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