Just the facts.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

My first boss and mentor ran a political PR firm in San Francisco. During my first week on the job, we were hosting a cocktail party for Mayor Willie Brown to launch a clean drinking water proposal for the city.

He pulled me aside at the event and gave me three pieces of can’t-go-wrong advice that I still use today:

  1. Never be the first to let go when shaking hands
  2. Never be the last one at the party
  3. Never put the word ‘facts’ in a press release

I think that was his way of telling me I was guilty of all three, in such a short time even.

So I learned and I tried and I learned some more and almost two decades later, well, I’m still probably only good following one of those three rules at a time. But I also get a little bit of satisfaction when I find another violator. And I ESPECIALLY get excited when said violator is my favorite piñata minus the good stuff inside, Squaw Valley.

Yes folks, on Wednesday Squaw dropped a press release with the most gloriously misleading header imaginable: The Facts About The Village at Squaw Valley Redevelopment Plan

Subtitled: Thank you, in advance, to the Sierra Sun and Sacbee for printing this verbatim and putting Staff Reports in the byline.

Before we dig in, I will congratulate Squaw for not letting CEO Andy Wirth come in and bedazzle this bad boy with his quotes. I mean, for me Wirth’s verbal stylings are a bit of a guilty pleasure along the lines of watching “New Girl” season after season. I know it’s always going to be the same, but I laugh a lot anyway.

But on this one, there was no margin for error. You know, it being fact-presentin’ time and all…. So let’s get right down to enjoying all of the parent private equity firm’s gorgeous, skinless, boneless truth nuggets:

The first header is entitled, Traffic.

Reading on, I was a bit disappointed because I thought the bullets were going to go something like this:

  • The 2001 Best Picture nominee was based on an idea for a movie director Steven Soderbergh had for a drug war. While searching for a screenwriter, Soderbergh read a script called “Havoc” by Stephen Gaghan about privileged white kids who got hooked on drugs. Gaghan based the story on his own high school experience as a good student who also was good at using drugs.
  • During the scenes in which Topher Grace and Erika Christensen (said privileged white kids) were stoned, filmmakers blew peppermint dust in their faces to irritate their eyes.
  • Benicio Del Toro, who won an Oscar for his role as a Mexican border cop, joined Sophia Loren, Robert De Niro, Marion Cotillard and Roberto Benigni as one of five actors who own an Oscar for roles which required them to speak in a foreign tongue.
  • Del Toro was the only Oscar winner for Traffic not named Steve: Steven Soderbergh (Best Director), Stephen Gaghan (Best Adapted Screenplay), Stephen Mirrione (Best Editing) also took home gold statuettes.

…OK, enough of that.

The actual Squaw ‘facts’ about Traffic are much, much less noteworthy, or nominated.

  • The Village at Squaw Valley redevelopment project will provide new on-site lodging opportunities for guests who would rather stay in Squaw Valley then drive from other lodging destinations, removing upwards of 2,000 skiers/riders from the road on peak days.

This is a HORRIFIC way to kick off a press release that’s supposed to be about facts. How can they prove that redevelopment moves cars off the road? With this logic, couldn’t the same argument be applied in reverse? “Some of the 2,000 skiers and riders are also going to want to go to the Bilty and gamble and eat a steak at 3 a.m. putting more than 1,500 drunken drivers BACK on the road.” Both statements are equally true.

  • The plan will commit $20 million in one-time and annual fees to transit initiatives, including electric in-village shuttles, alternative-fuel in-valley shuttles and enhanced regional transit initiatives, representing Olympic Valley’s largest transit investment ever.

I like one-time AND annual fees. Can’t you just say fees or all the fees? And shouldn’t Olympic Valley’s largest transit investment ever have come, oh, let’s see 2016…I don’t know 20+ years AGO anyway? Or if transit improvements come now, how bout regardless of whether there is development? Also what’s Olympic Valley’s second-largest transit investment? My guess it was the drugs the Soviets pumped into speed skaters Yevgeny Grishin and Lidiya Skoblikova, who won two golds each at the 1960 Winter Games.

  • Congestion on peak days is a regional issue, and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has and will continue to serve as a leader for solutions and progress: In addition to at least $125,000 that Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows contributes annually to regional transit initiatives, the resort utilized $285,000 for traffic control within Squaw Valley during the 2015-16 season, operating a successful three-lane model on a total of 44 high traffic days. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has initiated discussions with local traffic management agencies on solutions for Highway 89 congestion for which the resort would assist in funding.

OK, this is like trying to make it through the last fake Tom Clancy book I attempted to read at an airport kiosk. I stopped halfway through the description. Squaw makes it sound like they’re tithing or donating to “regional traffic issues” whatever that is. When, in fact, our taxpayer money goes directly to helping keep the roads paved, widened, restricted, signaled into and out of Olympic Valley the same way we pay for sheriff, fire and schools in the region. Beyond this, this is Squaw admitting they are willing to contribute the same amount it costs to put a down payment on a condo in Brockway Springs to help mitigate millions of visitors.

  • Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is an active contributor to the Sustainable Transit Vision led by the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association as well as the North Lake Tahoe Express Business planning committee.

This just means a couple people showed up and bought ate those too-much-frosting sprinkle cookies from Safeway at the monthly meetings, sometimes.

…Let’s move on to the next header.

If you liked “Friday the 13th” and “Meatballs” you’ll love the horrific and madcap hi-altitude hi-jinks at Mountain Adventure Camp:

  • The purpose of the Mountain Adventure Camp is to provide four-season activities, training opportunities for athletes, après ski activities for families and things for locals and resort visitors to do when weather does not allow for on-mountain activities.

I’ll take Activities for $1,000. The question: A word to describe what recent visitors do when weather does not allow them to do stuff? What is Activities? Fuck, I don’t know. I mean, at least après ski made it in here. Now I’m only searching for pictures like this:

apresskiI

  • The plans for the Mountain Adventure Camp are in the conceptual stage, but among its possible activities are fitness training, performing arts, zip-lining, simulated sky diving, swimming, therapeutic pools and rock climbing.

No shit. All the stuff you used to do outside in the mountains moved inside. This also reminds me of Dignan’s quote from “Bottle Rocket”: “Here are just a few of the key ingredients: dynamite, pole vaulting, laughing gas, choppers …can’t you see how incredible this is gonna be?”

  • The Mountain Adventure Camp is designed to be 96 feet tall at its tallest portion, comparable to a 6-story building, which spans only half of the structure.

Six (sorry) 6-story building? Wait… that only blocks HALF the views of the granite face of Squaw from certain angles. How in the fuck am I supposed to get my zip-lining-performing-arts on in anything less than a dozen stories?

‘K, the appetizers are off the table, now to move on to the main course, Project Size and Design:

  • Of the 93 acres proposed for redevelopment, only 12 acres will be dedicated to buildings.

I’m assuming the 12 acres slated for building is over the Indian burial ground so shit’s gonna get crazy and trees are going to come to life and clowns are gonna try to pull you under the bed and skeletons are going to pop out of the therapeutic pools.

  • The tallest buildings in the plan are 96 feet tall, comparable to a six story building. Buildings are designed to be varying in height and non-imposing, with step downs on building wings and in areas adjacent to existing village buildings to create a blended appearance. Most existing village buildings stand at four stories tall.

Yeah, 96 feet. We got it. Six (oh NOW you use the word)-story building, check. This isn’t Nakatomi Plaza and when the “Die Hard” live stunt show is performed that’s barely going to be high enough to make give fake Hans Gruber the ability to fall with style. Also, step downs? A blended appearance? Apparently this plan is being designed by a hair stylist. I’m sure phase two will be known as “Squaw Valley Redevelopment Plan Extensions.”

  • Design standards applied to the project address building separation, building stepping, building shape, view corridors and the relationship to the existing village, all of which were reviewed and approved by the local Squaw Valley Design Review Committee after a thorough nine-month process.

Squaw Valley Design Review Committee aka four Placer supes who have no design, building or environmental background and one committee member (not enough for a quorum) named Vacant Seat. See: below. Awesome.

Squaw_Valley_Design_Review_Committee_-_2016-07-27_11.31.00

  • Upon application for construction, building plans will be subject to the Squaw Valley Design Review process once again to ensure all design standards are met.

Hopefully ‘Vacant Seat’ will be filled by ‘Someone Who Gives a Shit’ by then.

Next we have Length of Build Out, because a project’s girth isn’t the only thing that matters.

  • The entitlements for the project would permit redevelopment over a 25-year period, however actual construction will require significantly less time and would be intermittent rather than ongoing.

You better hope it takes less than a quarter century. In 25 years there’ll be less annual snowfall in Olympic Valley than on a Friday afternoon near Scarface’s jet tub. Plus, that’s keeping Jonny Moseley on the dole through his first three facelifts.

  • The 25-year timeline has never been the “duration of construction,” rather it is an estimated redevelopment time frame to design, build, sell and operate the entire master plan as it relates to market conditions.

How does that saying go? Great men plant trees knowing they’ll never enjoy the shade. Andy Wirth leaves giant arcades that permanently obstruct views.

Next up, there’s a new Air Supply cover band opening for Tainted Love at the CBC. They’re called, Water Supply:

  • The Squaw Valley Public Service District’s Water Supply Assessment indicates that there is enough water in the basin directly under The Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan property to serve both the project and the future cumulative demand within Olympic Valley.

Google ‘Who has rights to California groundwater’ and the first link you’ll see is this one to the waterboards.ca.gov, And the first line according to the SEO machine is: ‘California does not have a permit process for regulation of groundwater use.’ Yep, the lawyers are gonna LOOOOOVE this “fact.”

  • To verify this, the Squaw Valley Public Service District had its water supply and demand analyses peer-reviewed by an independent third party (Dwight L. Smith, PE., PG.-Interflow Hydrology).

Thanks Dwight. How much did you get paid for that favorable analysis? You can let us know in the comments. Also, fun to gargle this alphabet soup after your name: PE., PG.-Interflow Hydrology. PE is public engineer. PG is probably what “Ferngully” should’ve been rated. No way all those scantily clad forest nymphs didn’t have one thing on their mind. And -Interflow Hydrology I think is his dubstep DJ name.

  • Additionally, The Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan has helped advance the most extensive and comprehensive body of science to date in evaluating water in Olympic Valley. More is understood and known today than ever before.

More is understood and known today than ever before. Who did Squaw borrow from the Trump campaign to round out the third bullet here?

Sure, we already did Traffic and we’re assuming you’re all bulleted out. But in case you’re not, here comes the sequel, Parking:

  • There will be no change in the number of parking spaces available at the resort.

But what about the 2,000 skiers/riders you removed from the roads up top; shouldn’t there be a commensurate REDUCTION in parking spots?! Fuck, nevermind.

  • The project plans for two levels of structured parking to accommodate day skiers and employees, as well $20 million in one-time and annual fees to improve in-valley and regional transit services, making it more convenient for locals and visitors to get to and from the resort without the need for parking.

Since you’re repeating bullets, (see: Traffic, bullet 2) we’re repeating responses: I think I like one-time AND annual fees. Can’t you just say fees or all the fees? And shouldn’t Olympic Valley’s largest transit investment ever have come, oh, let’s see 2016…I don’t know 20+ years AGO anyway? Or if it comes now, how bout regardless of whether there is development? Also what’s Olympic Valley’s second-largest transit investment? My guess it was the drugs the Soviets pumped into speed skaters Yevgeny Grishin and Lidiya Skoblikova, who won two golds each at the 1960 Winter Games.

And last (of course) is the Environment:

  • 90 percent of The Village at Squaw redevelopment would happen on existing asphalt parking lots already zoned for development.

Yeah bruh, the parking lots paving over riparian zones was a mistake. Now here’s a chance to undo that mistake…with a water theme park.

  • The plan reallocates approximately 30 acres of land zoned for development to non-developable land.

Only thing is, the land currently isn’t developed. You can’t walk into the Mercedes dealership and say, “I was going to take one of these Maybachs but I’m just going to steal a C-class instead, you’re welcome.” It doesn’t work that way (or does it if you’re a private equity firm?)

  • If approved, the project would commit $2 million to the restoration of Squaw Creek, $2 million annually to help fund Olympic Valley environmental initiatives, and $6 million to parks and recreation, including the completion of the Squaw Valley bike path and an official trailhead, parking and restroom facilities for the Granite Chief and Shirley Canyon trails.

I see what you’re doing there with those big numbers ‘committed.’ Of course, the caveat all developers use (and this is usually done in the context of affordable housing) is that the development never comes to fruition per spec so that means they can pull commitments/funding for these types of hero community-friendly projects that grease the wheels of state-mandated regs and public perception…then you never hear about ‘em again. Fuckers.

  • The project will create new on-site lodging, recreation opportunities, year-round local jobs and on-site affordable workforce housing while rehabilitating Squaw Creek and providing over $22 million in annual tax revenue to help fund public services including schools, road improvements, transit services and public safety.

It will also create gridlock, downward mobility, carbon emissions, wetland and creek diversions and put a whole lot more Danville moms and their yoga pants/yellow diamonds in close proximity to the mountain. Trust me, nobody wants that.

The Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan is scheduled for consideration by the Placer County Planning Commission on Aug. 11 at 10:00 a.m. at the North Tahoe Event Center located at 8318 North Lake Boulevard in Kings Beach, CA.

…OK, that last part. Actually true.

Visit SquawTomorrow.com to learn more about the end times a web site that will never be caught by the present tense.

More on Squaw redevelopment here.

Andrew J. Pridgen is the author of “Burgundy Upholstery Sky,” and lives in California. He would never drive drunk from the Bilty back to Squaw…not since Uber anyway.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Last time I heard, 96 feet was closer to nine or ten-stories. Isn’t the current Village 5 or 6-stories tall when you include “underground” parking?

  2. […] Our friends at Death Of The Pressbox posted another gem this week, which takes on the latest PR piece from SVSH. It does a fantastic job of taking down the “facts” that Squaw Valley is using in it’s last ditch effort to gain public support. Just the title made me chuckle: “The facts about the facts about the Village at Squaw Valley Redevelopment Plan.” […]

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