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About that Squaw Valley court decision...

A state Appellate court has ruled that Placer County failed to properly determine the effects of the approval it gave for development of a very large project in unincorporated Squaw Valley and did not disclose the secret arangements it had made with the project's proponents. While we here at the Advocates for Arden Arcade don't have a dog in that fight, what stood out for us is that Placer county made its decision despite strong opposition from people in the affected area AND their Supervisor. That's one of the fundamental problems with having the County make land use decisions. It takes 3 members of  a county Board of Supervisors to do anything. So, even if the Supervisor who represents the area for which a project is proposed does what constituents want and votes "no" on the proposal, that Supervisor has to get at least 2 other Supervisors (who do not represent the area) to also vote "no". In the case of the Squaw Valley project (a dream of out-of-state corporate overloads), the Supervisor who represented Squaw Valley was not able to do that. It fell to local activists to raise money and hire a lawyer to defend their interests against the Supervisors that did not care about them. That was not equitable treatment for  the impacted local people. Worse, the tax money those locals pay into Placer County was used to against them - first to shove forward a project they did not want, then to fight against them in court, and, perhaps going forward, to overturn or defeat the court decision and make the project happen anyway.

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Olympic Valley, site of the proposed major development that was approved by Placer County in the face of opposition from impacted locals. A court judgement found Placer County erred. {Photo Credit: San Francisco Chronicle, 08/26/2021}
“The approval was crushing. In a matter of minutes, it felt like living here, working here, loving this place, caring about conservation for future generations, wanting a sustainable, diversified economy simply didn’t matter. The county vote was so unjust it was mind boggling.”
Katy Hover-Smoot - Olympic Valley Public Service District Board Member, as reported in "Grassroots movement in Tahoe wins court fight over 'Vegas-style excess' development at Squaw Valley", San Francisco Chronicle 08/26/2021

Why does this matter to us in Arden Arcade? Answer - we exist under the very same circumstances. When people here object to a dumb land use decision, our only recourse is via our County Supervisor. We have had Supervisors in the past who clearly didn't display much thoughtfulness towards the sentiments of our community. Our current Supervisor, Rich Desmond, seems to not fit that mold. He has shown many indications of sensitivity to local public opinion. His actions have been demonstrating a sense of obligation to all parts of his District. Still, ultimately, his is but 1 vote out of the 3 needed to do anything. Remember when retiring Supervisor Jimmy Yee cast his final vote as a Supervisor to permit yet another liquor license opposed by our community? Not being a city, our community runs that kind of risk every time the Supervisors meet. And, while we hope the other Supervisors will always vote with Rich Desmond when he stands up for us, that's not a real prospect, as demonstrated yet again by the Squaw Valley decision. That structural problem is why Arden Arcade can't have nice things. Is it fair that we always have just 1 vote out of 5 available to speak for us on local-impact matters like land use or pothole-fixing priorities?

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