LAFCO Update – Near Fatal Blow Dealt to Incorporate Olympic Valley

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Nov 202015

Ok – here is the summary: the NIMBY’s think the State Controller’s Office validated their proposal even though at least 25 of their 30+ questions were hammered. The NIMBY’s went to the LAFCO meeting to try to see if they could continue on in the process.

The LAFCO board basically said the proposal did not look good. Then Fred Ilfeld accused the LAFCO Board of Corruption (as in colluding against HIM). After that, the usually mild-mannered bill Kirby got animated.

Now at the next LAFCO meeting, it is likely that the future of the project will be sealed – leaving the NIMBY’s to defer to the ENVIROS to stop the development.

Meantime – skiers are getting screwed over. I highlighted a couple spots of the release that speak to the motives of Ilfeld and his ill-fated effort.


The effort by Incorporate Olympic Valley (IOV) was dealt a severe blow at this week’s meeting of the Placer County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO). As the process has transpired, multiple financial experts, including the California State Controller’s Office (SCO), have established and continue to unambiguously state and evidence what has been largely and well known for quite some time — the proposed town of Olympic Valley is not financially feasible. In fact, the annual operating losses of this proposed town exceed $1.5 million in the most liberal interpretation of this effort, hence the continued efforts and focus by Save Olympic Valley so to ensure that this risky proposal doesn’t advance any further.

At Wednesday’s meeting, LAFCO Commissioners rejected a staff request for further fiscal analysis and instead, moved to put the issue of terminating the incorporation application on their meeting agenda as soon as the law allows. Prior to taking action, the LAFCO Commissioners heard testimony from their own staff, as well as from Save Olympic Valley’s (SOV) fiscal consultant, Matthew Newman, about the implications of the recent State Controller’s review of the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (CFA) of the proposed town. According to both LAFCO staff and Mr. Newman, the town is not feasible, and nothing in the Controller’s report changes that conclusion.

“IOV’s statements that the town is viable rely on some remarkably unrealistic assumptions,” Newman stated. “IOV proposes to enjoy all the fruits of development in the form of increased revenues, but doesn’t budget for any of the increased costs which new development would bring, such as higher expenditures for law enforcement or the planning department.”

Newman added, “IOV also proposes to take over the regional services currently provided by the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association (NLTRA), and with in doing so would be taking from the entire North Lake Tahoe community, millions of dollars of additional property taxes that are currently used to fund community-wide and county-wide services.”

Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, LLC, one of the many members of Save Olympic Valley also reacted to the LAFCO actions, stating “This meeting validated most of what we have known and have been saying for quite some time, and that is that incorporation is not feasible and is a patently dangerous notion not just for the community of Olympic Valley, but also for the entire community of North Lake Tahoe and Placer County. With the great many variables and challenges our community has, introducing yet another civic entity — and in this case, a fiscally unstable civic entity — doesn’t make any sense, whatsoever.”

Wirth said LAFCO commissioners clearly recognized that this process could go on ad infinitum and spoke candidly about how and when to terminate the incorporation application. “Everyone but the small group of individuals associated with IOV now very clearly understand that incorporation has never been, and will never be financially viable,” Wirth said.

“Ironically, IOV set out to slow or stop the enhancement of Squaw Valley by way of the company’s real estate redevelopment project, the very project that would produce the revenues needed for their proposed new town.” Wirth said.

Commissioners engaged in a robust three-hour debate that included a summary of findings from the State Controller’s Office and a discussion on whether to move forward with a quest for fresh data to update the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis.

In the meeting’s most dramatic moment, IOV alleged that LAFCO staff and its consultants were biased against incorporation, a notion that was vehemently disputed by Commissioner Dr. Bill Kirby.

“LAFCO staff and their consultants are not biased. They have been fair and unbiased. I am insulted by these allegations,” Dr. Kirby stated.

One hope for the proposed town might have been if Placer County was willing to provide financial aid through a process known as “revenue neutrality” negotiations. Unfortunately for IOV, however, the hope of subsidies was dashed by a top county official.

Jennifer Merchant, Placer County’s Deputy CEO for Tahoe, said after having reviewed the State Controller’s Office report and multiple fiscal studies which concluded the town was not feasible, “The County would certainly negotiate revenue neutrality in good faith, but negotiations are not meant to enrich the applicant’s incorporation proposal. In fact, revenue neutrality negotiations might be more detrimental to IOV’s hope for incorporation than the estimated numbers prepared by RSG Consulting in the draft CFA. It’s not the county’s job to find ways to make incorporation viable.”

Keith Fountain, who is neither a member of, nor affiliated directly with SOV, spoke on behalf of the 218 homeowners at the Squaw Valley Lodge who have sought exemption from the incorporation boundaries as put forth by IOV.

“We have studied the CFA ourselves and interpret its conclusions very differently from IOV,” Fountain told the commission. “Contradiction is evident in IOV’s request that restricted TOT funds intended for the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association (NLTRA) now be transferred to the town and considered in the calculation of property tax. All this, despite their on-going claim that they would continue funding NLTRA as Placer County does now. Their argument is simply a financial manipulation intended to inflate the town’s future revenues.”

LAFCO’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 9 at 4:00 p.m. in Auburn.

Save Olympic Valley (SOV) is a large group of local residents, homeowners, property owners and business leaders who have sought exclusion from the proposed town due primarily to the substantial financial risk associated with the proposed town. Businesses, properties and individuals seeking exclusion include: Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, Plumpjack/Newsom Properties, The Resort at Squaw Creek, Poulsen Family Properties, Dean and Sandra Hall Properties, Richie Goldman Properties, Dan Morgan Property, Heidi and Terry Deveau, and Ciro Mancuso Properties.

LAFCO UPDATE: Olympic Valley Effort Dealt Near Fatal Blow

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Jul 122015

This week LAFCO imposed deadlines on IOV backers!

(blogger’s Note – CFA = Financial Analysis, EIR = State Mandated Waste of Money on Environmental Impacts, IOV = NIMBY’s)

Placer County LAFCO delivered the message to Olympic Valley incorporation supporters  loud and clear Wednesday afternoon, indicating no more delays, it’s time to pay up.

The Commission adopted a staff recommendation that denied an IOV request to delay the EIR, while setting a firm deadline for IOV to make EIR payment (Aug 13), and if payment is not made, staff will suspend all work. (It looks like the NIMBY’s just got their free ride at our expense cut off)

Despite heavy advocacy for incorporation by commission chair Miguel Ucovich, LAFCO members voted against the chairman on a 5-2 vote. Ucovich, who led the effort to incorporate Loomis 30 years ago, has become an outspokenly biased advocate for incorporation of Olympic Valley. Ucovich called the draft CFA “skewed” even after fiscal experts addressed concerns about the document. I still do not understand why the otherwise staunch conservative would be supporting an effort that is fiscally doomed from jump street…

Brian Sheehan, the other member who voted no on the motion, serves on the Squaw Valley Public Service District board. Sheehan, who also has made no effort to recuse himself, is an ally of incorporation and vocal in his support. In the opinion of this author, Sheehan’s conflicts of interest should be investigated.

LAFCO meets August 12 when its expected to consider a revised comprehensive fiscal analysis (CFA).

IOV seems to ignore the fiscal realities, seeking to send the revised CFA to the state controller for review.  The anti-growth IOV people don’t care about reality despite a process and document that has been fair to both sides.

Based on the preliminary CFA, the claims by IOV that the document is riddled with errors will be readdressed and is expected to be finalized. IOV attorney Michael Colontuano, an expert litigator of incorporation efforts,  mentioned litigation during his remarks.

Got all that – even if all the alleged errors in the Financials are addressed, Larry the Lawyer is going to file suit. He just said so and LAFCO knows it. This is what NIMBY’s do when they don’t get their own way. Meantime – 1,000 jobs are being held at legal gunpoint by IOV. Don’t you just love California Law and how it is written to encourage this?

For all the whining of the Left over rich people, they should be outraged over what Ilfeld (the Rich university professor) and Larry the Lawyer are doing to Placer County.

The Second Opinion Is In – Incorporating Olympic Valley is a Loser

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Jul 072015

Second opinions can be a good thing. Whether it’s for a medical condition or incorporating a small town like Olympic Valley, a second pair of eyes helps! Trouble is, people often get a second opinion to validate the first. They really only hear what they want to hear.

In this case, the second pair of eyes was by Blue Sky reviewing a preliminary fiscal analysis conducted for Placer County LAFCO. The county’s vendor, RSG Consulting Group, performed a comprehensive financial review of whether a new town could be survive. The conclusion was crystal clear. Incorporation is not fiscally viable. Unfortunately, those pushing incorporation don’t want to accept the hard data. They would rather argue about decimal errors or whether the town would need a 17% reserve or a 30% reserve. These rationalizations fly in the face of reality.

If created, and that’s a big IF, Olympic Valley would be not only California’s newest town, but also the smallest. There’s only 500 registered voters in the area and the community is already heavily divided over whether incorporation is a positive development. I say development, because incorporation is really about controlling and limiting Squaw Valley’s development project.

That’s the irony. Incorporation requires a successful development project to generate revenue for the town. Both fiscal studies indicate that, even if development unfolds at a rapid pace, the new town is not viable. In fact, the second study says “there are good reasons to believe that development would be slower than expected. Continued drought, economic recession, environmental litigation, or the actions of a new town council could all act to slow or stall development.” The report says, if this were to occur, “the fiscal implications for the town could be dire.”

What? Dire?!!! A proposed town is already in financial trouble? Maybe this town is different, and won’t rely heavily, if not almost exclusively on the weather, tourism and revenue generated by the Squaw Valley Ski Resort. Uh, okay. May be not!

This is what happens when a few wealthy NIMBY’s, who have joined forces with Sierra Watch and Friends of Squaw Valley, start cutting their own towline. By curtailing development at Squaw, there isn’t enough revenue generated for standard services let alone their entitlements. There isn’t enough revenue to have an adequate reserve to protect the town and its citizens from unforeseen events. But these are the same people who demanded their own locker room at the resort, special reserved parking and annual memberships courtesy of Squaw.

At the June 10 LAFCO meeting, these advocates for incorporation raised concerns about errors and flaws of the preliminary CFA. Now, many of those allegations have been proven wrong, and so the fiscal analysis (CFA) isn’t inaccurate like they said. The only flawed thinking is by those who still want to incorporate when common sense and financial DATA says it will have a negative impact on the area.

The county’s independent analysis shows incorporation doesn’t work. The Blue Sky review also shows incorporation is fiscally infeasible. Blue Sky Consulting Group is a Sacramento-Oakland-based public policy and economics consulting firm with some serious credentials and fiscal experts. The incorporation folks and LAFCO have been given a second opinion. The only question left is, is anyone listening?

LAFCO Update: Did Incorporate Olympic Valley People Reveal Their True Motives?

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Jun 302015

The Sierra Sun had a story today about an evil development proposed in the Lake Tahoe Area. A ski developer wants to build a bunch of stuff so their business is not one-dimensional and dependent upon Sierra Snow and winter business.

Let’s dive in to the story with the first quote:

The Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan outlines construction of up to 850 lodging units, with a maximum of 1,493 bedrooms; nearly 300,000 square feet of tourist-serving commercial space, while decommissioning about 92,000 square feet of existing commercial space; and a 90,000-square-foot Mountain Adventure Camp for indoor and outdoor recreation.

Boy – that sure sounds big and would make anyone living permanently in North Lake Tahoe nervous… but, then later in the article:

This latest proposal is a scaled-down plan from previous versions, including fewer bedrooms and lodging units, shorter building heights, a smaller Mountain Adventure Camp, and less overall project acreage.

“The most sensitive thing that we’ve done in terms of the environment for this project is reduce it by 50 percent over the last three years,” [Chevis] Hosea said. (he is the developer’s representative)

Ok – so the NIMBY’s have succeeded in getting the project shrunk. But, it still is not good enough. Sierra Watch has their lawyer trolling planning meetings, according to the article and look who else was in the article:

“The only mistake that can be made is to allow too many bedrooms or too much development, because that can never be fixed,” said Olympic Valley resident Bob Barnett, who is a member of the Friends of Squaw Valley. “If you go smaller, that can always be remedied later on. Once it’s too big, the environmental impacts never stop.”

Okay, so Sierra Watch and the Friends of Squaw Valley are working together to scale back or even stop the development project.

Oops. Maybe Bob Barnett, one of the “Friends of” forgot to mention that he also represents the Incorporate Olympic Valley effort, which desperately needs development to generate revenue for a new town. Stopping, delaying or downsizing the development project is disastrous for incorporation.   

Someone needs to give Bob Barnett some help, so allow me:

1. Don’t step on your own messaging. You’ve just exposed yourself as anti-growth as you are quoted attacking a development inside Olympic Valley. This tells the world what your likely motives are for attempting to incorporate a “town” of 500 registered voters

2. Olympic Valley is not financially viable. Even the most glowing estimates state that it will need to siphon millions in room taxes from neighboring jurisdictions to be viable.

3. However, you oppose construction of the very things that would generate the tax revenue necessary to support Olympic Valley! What’s next, a tax increase?


LAFCO Update: Incorporate Olympic Valley Attorney Urges County Board to Keep Document Secret

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May 122015

Remember Nancy Pelosi – we’ll find out what’s in it later?  (When referring to the need to vote yes on ACA before anyone had a chance to read the bill)

Well – apparently that is not a unique perspective.

You never know what you might catch when you going fishing.  After I posted interesting items related to Placer County’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), I dug deeper into the agenda packet for Wednesday’s meeting. Then, I ran across a neat little legal jewel.

An attorney representing incorporation efforts up at Squaw Valley urges Placer County to keep a document secret! Anytime I see lawyers asking for secrecy, it sets off alarm bells. 

Michael Colantuono represents people who want to incorporate Olympic Valley (that’s the Squaw Valley area I referred to yesterday where about 500 people are registered to vote). Colantuono sent a letter to William Wright, the attorney for Placer County’s LAFCO, asking for increased transparency from LAFCO staff and then urging them to keep an economic study under wraps. Does he recognize his own hypocrisy?

LAFCO is expected to publish this week a Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (CFA) of whether incorporation makes sense financially. The incorporation folks were given an advance copy of the “draft” document before it was made public.

Now – let that sink in a bit. Is anyone else wondering why the Incorporate Olympic Valley folks are able to get a copy of the economic study before anyone else?  While that may be interesting by itself, it’s the correspondence between two attorneys that has me calling BS.

The study is not public yet, and Colantuono’s letter to the county complains about LAFCO’s lack of transparency. He requests—or demands—that the document remain secret until AFTER the county negotiates the cost of services with the new town representatives. This is not only arrogant, it is corrupt.

Perhaps the NorCal Tea Party and other groups should take a closer look at this corruption. I am serious, this crap should not be happening anywhere and certainly not in my backyard.

Based on the tone and comments of Colantuono’s comments, incorporation of Olympic Valley is not fiscally viable. So, why keep the document out of the public domain for as long as possible?  Because LAFCO’s consultant agrees? Because the Incorporate Olympic Valley (IOV) folks need to recalculate the numbers, yep—out of public sight!!!! I thought LAFCO’s staff was supposed to be unbiased? What am I missing here?

Someone needs to have their head examined!!!!! Let me suggest one other besides the attorney:

The guy behind incorporation is Fred Ilfeld, who ironically is a psychiatrist, group therapist, philanthropist, adventurer, and grand-father of nine, who teaches at University of Nevada in Reno.  Fred is well-to-do and bank-rolling the incorporation effort. He paid for and submitted the IOV application along with about a dozen supporters.

The Tahoe Daily/Sierra Sun reported two years ago that if Olympic Valley is successful in incorporating, the new town — which would have identical boundaries to the Squaw Valley Public Service District — would have jurisdiction over plans to expand Squaw Valley Ski Resort. That is according to Peter Schweitzer, chair of Incorporate Olympic Valley.

So – think it through, a rich educated liberal college professor is bankrolling an effort to create a little hippie commune that just so happens to be right where one of Placer County’s Largest Tourist Attractions is. I’ve seen this all before – we are having a NIMBY eruption right here in Placer County (again). I still have nightmares about the “Save Granite Bay” signs from many moons ago.

We have the severe drought because of NIMBY’s

Our Freeways are clogged with traffic and inadequate because of NIMBY’s

We have forced power outages because of NIMBY’s

And here they are trying to screw over Squaw Valley? Am I missing something?