The nonprofit Sierra Watch took Placer County to court Dec. 15, filing suit to overturn development approvals in Squaw Valley. Sierra Watch’s initial brief, technically a “Petition for Writ of Mandate and Complaint for Injunctive Relief,” lists numerous ways in which Placer County’s approval ran afoul of the California Environmental Quality Act, better known as CEQA. Those arguments will be explained in more detailed briefs in the months ahead as the case makes its way through Placer County Superior Court.

“KSL Capital Partners’ development proposal for Squaw Valley threatens everything we love about Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada,” said Tom Mooers, Executive Director of Sierra Watch.


The County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve the project on Nov. 15. According to Sierra Watch, that vote was illegal under state planning law.

According to the brief, Placer County failed “…to adequately analyze or mitigate the project’s numerous significant environmental impacts, including direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts on water supply, hydrology and water quality, traffic and air quality, the Lake Tahoe Basin, fire and emergency hazards, climate change, biological resources, historic resources, night sky and scenic/visual resources, noise, and population and housing.”

“State law requires that Placer County understand and, wherever feasible, avoid the negative impacts this project would have on Squaw Valley and North Lake Tahoe,” said Isaac Silverman, Staff Attorney for Sierra Watch. “But Placer County’s process failed on both counts — instead downplaying the long-term and irreversible harm KSL’s project would cause and ignoring alternatives that would reduce it.”

In its initial brief, Sierra Watch is asking the Court to overturn the County’s approvals, for permanent injunctions restraining both KSL and the County “from taking any action to implement the project,” and for costs and fees as authorized by law.

“Our case is rock solid and our effort is rooted in a shared commitment to the timeless values of the Tahoe Sierra,” Mooers said. “Our goal is not simply to prevail in court but, more importantly, to bring people to the table to come up with a blueprint for Squaw that we can all be proud of.”


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