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June 17, 2014
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Opposition to Olympic Valley town effort near Lake Tahoe grows

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Two major businesses have joined Squaw Valley ski resort in opposing the proposed town of Olympic Valley, citing financial concerns while lending support to current levels of governance.

“We strongly believe that if incorporation of Olympic Valley were approved, the newly created city would ultimately fail, resulting in ramifications that would be felt well beyond Placer County and the Tahoe region,” said Mike Syiek, board president for Squaw Valley Lodge, in a June 9 letter to Placer County Local Agency Formation commissioners.

Syiek also pointed to concerns ranging from lawsuits to the likelihood of a limited pool of capable leaders should Olympic Valley incorporate.

Eric Sather, general manager for the Resort at Squaw Creek, sent a similar letter to LAFCO on June 10.

“There are arguments to be made — for and against incorporation — but Squaw Creek is satisfied with its present governance, Placer County, and Squaw Creek has concerns about the financial viability and governance of such a small town,” Sather wrote.

At a June 11 LAFCO meeting, Folsom-based Citygate Associates was awarded a contract to prepare a financial analysis on the proposed town.

“I’m hoping a very thorough and conscious fiscal analysis is done,” said Fred Ilfeld, chair for Incorporate Olympic Valley, the grassroots group pushing for the town’s creation. “... We need to know this to plan for a town and make sure it is fiscally viable.”

According to an earlier analysis commissioned by IOV, the town would be viable by generating $484,000 in annual surplus, based on $4.74 million in revenue — mainly from transient occupancy and property taxes — and $4.26 million in expenses.

While Citygate Associates will work for LAFCO, its analysis will be funded by IOV. The contract is not to exceed $51,750, which includes funding for one alternative analysis.

Citygate Associates estimates the analysis will take five months.

IOV’s proposal is for the town to follow the boundaries of the Squaw Valley Public Service District — which includes the famed Squaw Valley ski resort.

However, Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings (which owns Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski resorts) has asked LAFCO that Squaw Valley be excluded from the boundaries, a request shared this month by the Resort at Squaw Creek and Squaw Valley Lodge.

Kristina Berry, executive officer for the local LAFCO office, said that while the agency is looking at Squaw Valley’s request, it’s unknown what else will be included in the alternative analysis.

Individual Olympic Valley property owners have also requested to be excluded, she said.

“You can’t create a city with all these little islands,” Berry said. “... Just because they ask, doesn’t mean they will be taken out.”

The effort to incorporate is to have greater self-determination, according to IOV, a drive that was reportedly spurred by the Squaw Valley’s village expansion proposal.

If LAFCO’s analysis indicates Olympic Valley could succeed as a town and it approves incorporation, an election among Olympic Valley registered voters would follow, in which a simple majority — more than 50 percent — must vote in favor for it to become a town.

In related news, the California Fair Political Practices Commission is continuing its investigation into IOV amid allegations the group failed to file a statement of organization, file monthly campaign statements for at least five months and include disclaimers on campaign advertisements to the commission.

A timeline for whether IOV will be sanctioned is unknown.

“We strongly believe that if incorporation of Olympic Valley were approved, the newly created city would ultimately fail.”
Mike Syiek, Squaw Valley Lodge


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jun 17, 2014 06:32PM Published Jun 23, 2014 10:18AM Copyright 2014 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.