Aug 102016

The Placer county planning commission has a big vote coming up this week up the hill in Lake Tahoe. Squaw Valley has been pitching a plan to redevelop its parking lots with additional lodging and hospitality offerings. The ski industry is changing all over the country and Squaw says it wants to remain competitive with Colorado, Utah and many other resorts around the country who have been upgrading and enhancing their offerings to skiers.  From the perspective of Placer county, this means more jobs and more economic development for the region. It is a total no-brainer were it not for…

…This project being in Tahoe. Out there there will always going to be opponents to any proposed redevelopment, even if it’s on a parking lot. Did you catch that? They are using an existing ugly parking lot for the space to expand their facility, no trees will be harmed!

The vocal opposition seems to be a mixture of NIMBY types (remember my past posts about Incorporate Olympic Valley?) and one particularly aggressive environmental group, Sierra Watch.  This organization has waged a  campaign, much of which is built on distortions, in a way that’s not often seen – even in the socialist utopia known as Lake Tahoe.

It’s interesting to note however that, Sierra Watch isn’t always so aggressive in its opposition to development in the region. The Squaw Project appears to receive far more intense and virulent opposition than anything else Sierra Watch has undertaken in recent years.

I am pretty sure I have figured out why. A look at Sierra Watch’s publicly available financial filings shows something they haven’t been telling the public, or even their supporters about.

Over the past few years, they’ve had massive infusions of cash on their balance sheet. In fact, Sierra Watch’s assets nearly quadrupled over 12 months from July 2014 to June 2015. This totals to a 375 percent increase.

Where does the cash come from?  There’s been speculation that it may come from developers in the region since Sierra Watch seems to be mildly opposed and simply quiet on some projects but seems to be opposed to Squaw with the furor of a movement.

What’s even more interesting is Sierra Watch seemingly hasn’t disclosed any of this on their website or in other public communications. But, It makes sense why they have been threatening a lawsuit. They now have the resources to sustain a legal battle until they get what they want.

All of this makes one wonder what Sierra Watch is really after here with Squaw. A lot of questions can be raised, again because other developments seemed to have been approved with far less controversy.

Is this just another attempt to get a massive cash infusion into its coffers? Is their vocal opposition based on the fact that they see another massive cash payout that can come from a big employer like Squaw? This reminds me of the labor unions threatening Roseville with environmental lawsuits which could all be settled if Roseville agreed to a project labor agreement. (Which they did and the electric rates are higher as a result) We call this “Greenmail”.

What is the whole story behind all this cash suddenly swishing around Sierra Watch’s coffers?

There are a lot of questions here. A lot. It looks like the planning commissioners and supervisors need to know what is driving this group’s opposition as they contemplate the issues over the next few weeks.

Aug 082016

This was printed in the Sierra Sun – the local progressive rag in the Tahoe-Truckee Area. It kind of says it all.

Recently I read the Sierra Sun opinion column, “Lake Tahoe is in need of progressive change — and soon,” dated May 30 about the need for progressive change in our region.

I could not agree more. Many of the issues mentioned by Heidi Hill Drum (of the Tahoe Prosperity Center) and Darcie Goodman Collins (of the League to Save Lake Tahoe) apply to the Village at Squaw Valley redevelopment project.

These two community leaders said: “Redevelopment — the effort to rebuild and renovate in the already-developed urban centers of each of Tahoe’s communities — can foster the conditions for businesses that provide year-round jobs at better wages and better housing in more attractive neighborhoods.”

I support well-designed and thought out redevelopment. I believe the Village at Squaw Valley project is a plan we as a community should support.

Over 90 percent of the Village is in-fill redevelopment on existing asphalt parking lots. That asphalt is the first “filter” for water going into the Squaw Valley aquifer — certainly we can do better than that.

The Village plan includes installation of best management practices that will begin to treat stormwater from the minute it hits the roofs. New wells in Squaw Valley will ensure reliable water supplies, the rehabilitation of Squaw Creek is a great idea, and the park and bike trails are needed amenities we’ll all enjoy.

While we might not agree on how many lodging units is the correct number, we should support new, updated, energy-efficient lodging that will attract visitors — those same visitors many of us are dependent upon for our livelihood.

I think most of us would agree that the significant investment in transit and transportation improvements promised with the new Village works toward a new way to experience our region. Not any one redevelopment will solve our transit woes, but each and every improvement will help.

I’ve watched the changes in the plan over the years it’s been in the process, and I think we’re now at a place that’s just about right for our region.

I urge the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors to approve the Village at Squaw Valley and move it forward. It’s time to accelerate environmental redevelopment and understand the status quo is threatening the viability of our future.

Alex Mourelatos is a Tahoe Vista resident and partner at Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort, and someone who considers himself a champion for responsible redevelopment in our region.

Recently, the Placer County Planning Commission was intimidated in to declining another project that was far more broad than just a redevelopment of an existing area. There may be more to the story about the opposition to that project – but the extreme nature of the opposition to anything that will bring economic development is clinical.

Don’t forget – they tried to incorporate a city to stop this, then threatened lawsuits – and now they are emptying the hippee commune in Nevada County and bringing more of Fred Ilfeld’s friends down from Nevada in an attempt to bully Placer County Government in to declining a project that has already been vetted environmentally and planning wise.

Ever wonder why companies don’t build in California? IF you can make it up the hill on Thursday to help support good people with a good project – please leave a comment. It won’t display publicly and I will get back to you.

(10AM Thur, the Planning Commission meets in Tahoe City)

Aug 052016

Stockton politics is a cesspool.

In Placer, our biggest troubles are usually democrats trying to run for local office – or democrats re-registering Republican, then running for local office.

In Stockton, you have convicted felons like N. Allen Sawyer, a former business partner of Lee Neves running campaigns. In San Joaquin County, party affiliation does not matter, there are two camps made up of all kinds of different folks. So, while some will react with glee over a Republican (Silva) getting popped on sex charges… there are always democrats like Sam Fant swimming in the same cesspool.

It appears that Anthony Silva had another hobby (besides what I believe to be corruption), playing strip poker with minors in Amador county versus at the Epic Lounge.

To Sacramento Bee took a break from their Trump-Bashing (Hey, there is an election to manipulate) to inform the world about Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva.

He was charged with recording confidential communications, a felony, and three misdemeanors: contributing to the delinquency of a minor, furnishing alcohol to a person under 21 and child endangerment.

Riebe said the charges relate to incidents Aug. 7, 2015, at the Silver Lake camp in Amador County.

“This comes from an FBI investigation that we became aware of last Tuesday,” Riebe said. “These charges stem from that investigation.”

This is just awesome. IT looks like the FBI in San Joaquin County has been investigating all kinds of crap. Gun-Running from the Sheriff’s office, alleged flop-houses and there is convicted felon N. Allen Sawyer in the middle of it.
Here is the special irony. Lee Neves, once a business partner of Sawyer and the consultant for Silva is one of the ones screaming loudest for his resignation. It reminds me of a scene from the Godfather. (nothing like a little revenge in the morning)
Where is the San Joaquin Sheriff’s department in all of this? Why have they been turning a blind eye to Mayor Silva diddling kids?
Aug 052016

Remember the LAFCO saga with liberal millionaire Fred Ilfeld and his attempt to incorporate a small unviable town in Olympic Valley? In a turn of events that is a poster child for why development in California is prohibitively expensive, if a developer wins the bureaucratic fight, they still have to deal with the enviros and the courts.

I received the following email that shows phase 2 in the NIMBY army action. (Phase 3 is the standard SUE THEM phase… and Sierra Watch has made it clear that they will sue over this project.)

That’s right – this project has passed environmental scrutiny (resulting in it being shrunk from the original plan) and has been vetted at all levels, but still the enviros want to stop it.

You can fight back – we are mobilizing a counter group to show the Planning commission it is not just the far-left NIMBY’s that care about this issue. See below.

Sierra Nevada Alliance Alert

MAC May 14 2

Help Keep Squaw True Free of People, August 11th at
the Placer County Planning Commission

The Sierra Nevada Alliance invites you to read an action alert from our member organization, Sierra Watch:

Stand for the place we all love.

What:        Placer County Planning Commission meeting to decide the future of Squaw Valley and North Lake Tahoe!

When:       Thursday, August 11, 2016
10:00 a.m.

Where:      North Tahoe Event Center
Kings Beach (free parking, get there early!)

RSVP:       Email or call Chase Schweitzer to reserve a Keep Squaw True t-shirt,

On Thursday, Aug. 11, the Placer County Planning Commission will hold their public hearing and recommend that the County approve or deny KSL Capital Partners’ proposed development for Squaw Valley.

Local and regional opposition to the proposal is overwhelming.

The Squaw Valley Municipal Advisory Council already voted against it, joining more than 3,000 thousand individualKeep Squaw True petition signers, dozens of local businesses, and local and national environmental organizations including Sierra Nevada Alliance.  Multiple government entities including the Town of Truckee, California Highway Patrol, Tahoe Regional Planning Authority, Lahontan Regional Water Resources Control Board, and more have expressed deep concerns.

During the meeting on August 11th, the Planning Commission will vote on whether the County should put KSL’s bottom line over the community’s quality of life in North Lake Tahoe and Truckee.

The hearing is our opportunity to let the Commission know how we feel about KSL’s proposed development that is of a size, scale and scope never before seen in the Lake Tahoe Region. It will include highrises, about 1,500 bedrooms, the development of Shirley Canyon, traffic, and a big box indoor water park.

It’s time to stand together once again, and tell the County that adding more gridlocked traffic to already dangerous fire evacuation paths, straining local water supplies, and threatening the clarity of Lake Tahoe – even undermining regional plans to combat climate change – is a non-starter!

Together we can Keep Squaw True.

What:         Placer County Planning Commission meeting on the future of Squaw Valley and North Lake Tahoe!

When:        Thursday, August 11, 2016
10:00 a.m.

Where:       North Tahoe Event Center
Kings Beach (free parking, get there early!)

RSVP:        Email or call Chase Schweitzer to reserve a t-shirt,
Again, now’s the time.  RSVP to Chase Schweitzer, Sierra Watch Field Representative, to let him know that you can attend – as well as what size Keep Squaw True t-shirt he can hand you as we all walk into the meeting to stand up for Squaw, the North Lake Tahoe/Truckee Region, and the Lake itself!

Also, please forward this email to your friends and family that care about Squaw and the Tahoe-Sierra as much as you do.

Have a great week, and see you there!

Got it? If they can’t intimidate the planning commission – they are going to sue. What can you do? I hear a group is organizing to attend the meeting themselves to provide balance to the NIMBY’s. IF you are interested in standing up for free enterprise and Skiing – leave a comment here with your contact info as comments do not display automatically.