A new town in the Sierra?
Listen to the story
A new town may pop up in the Sierra in 2014. A coalition of residents in Squaw Valley are moving forward with plans to become a formal town known as Olympic Valley.
Leaders of the group Incorporate Olympic Valley submitted an application in December and put down a 25,000 dollar deposit with the state agency responsible for overseeing incorporation.
Peter Schweitzer is on the board of the citizens coalition. He says there are two drivers behind this effort: one is to direct more tax revenue toward improved services; the other is have a greater control over land use and planning in the valley.
"Whatever is right for the valley should be decided by residents and people who're affected daily by it, and not just the county seat in Auburn that has no real affinity for Squaw Valley."
If approved, the town would operate independently of Placer County, although the agreement to incorporate would require that the county remains financially whole. Schweitzer says Olympic Valley's budget would be about 5 million dollars, which is less than 1 percent of Placer County's total budget.
The group started collecting signatures from hundreds of residents in favor of incorporating after first hearing that KSL, which owns Squaw Valley ski resort, was planning to add more than 3,000 new rooms. Since then, the resort has scaled back this expansion to about 1,500 rooms.
Schweitzer says this proposed expansion at Squaw was what first motivated them to organize, but their group has no stated position against any ski resort growing in the valley. He says they just want to keep those decisions local.
"If KSL donated all their property to the Sierra Club tomorrow and promised to never do anything with it, we would still want to incorporate."
Schweitzer says they'll probably contract with the county for some services like law enforcement or animal control. He says they're a little more than halfway to reaching their goal of 115,000 dollars, which is how much they need for processing their application, as well as hiring consultants and planners. He says getting approval will take at least three or four more months.