About Tripping in wildfires tahoe developments raise concerns

Throughout her career as a flight attendant, Laura Haneveld needed a record.

“The most significant thing on an airplane is fire, if you are on the floor or if you’re up in the air,” Haneveld stated. “I am very attuned to how fast fire may take over and the way you don’t think clearly.”

Now retired and residing in California’s Olympic Valley near Lake Tahoe, Haneveld still keeps a fire checklist.

Only this time it’s to frighten her and her husband, when they are escaping a forest fire, emergency room physician Ed Haneveld, what things to do.

“Forty years back, we had a far healthier woods, today we’re dealing with an unhealthy woods,” Haneveld explained. “I find the prospect of a real tragedy.”

That’s one of the reasons many and Haneveld other Sierra Nevada citizens oppose a redevelopment plan for Squaw Valley Resort which could add the valley during the subsequent 25 decades and about 1,500 bedrooms and retail and resort amenities.

As Californians happen to be agreeing with all the dangers the redevelopment, and another controversial plan for hundreds of homes close to a metropolitan street nearby Truckee, comes.

Development programs have been approved by local officials across the understanding of environmental groups and countless residents who spoke out against the plans although the developers acknowledge there are situations where wildfire can burn through faster than people could elongate.

Both are being contested in court, and in 1 case a judge known as the evacuation plan insufficient.

“We are adding buildings, people, we are not adding some more ability to escape from here,” Haneveld explained.

The features which produce the valley attractive to residents and tourists contribute to her Travels anxieties.

The most important redevelopment area is approximately 2 kilometers west of California Highway 89 via the curvy, two-lane Squaw Valley Road.

Most homes in the valley are located on this road’s north side along with the southern northern and eastern ends are forested.

In the center, Squaw Valley Creek runs through a meadow, which rises toward the ski and hotel area. Exposed-rock terrain towers up to 3,000 feet above the valley floor.

In the ridges, skiers and snowboarders can enjoy views of Lake Tahoe. In 2014 the exact ridges burnt to and would have given a scenic view of this King Fire, which started about 35 kilometers to the southwest near Pollock Pines.

Haneveld fear is there will be tens of thousands of visitors and residents crammed to the valley when the fire arrives along with their attempts evacuation will lead to gridlock.

“I think that it is more the sense of being trapped that is terrifying,” explained Haneveld, that remembered the stories of people fleeing the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, seeking refuge in a flow in November 2018.

“I’ve definitely thought of that as a last-ditch attempt, becoming to the Truckee River,” she said.

And it’s not the only contentious development that could put more traffic on streets mountain terrain between Interstate 80 and Lake Tahoe, in the forested.

Several hundred houses and industrial properties would be added by another around Northstar California Resort.

The proposal, known as Martis Valley West, created similar complaints from folks who fear that further development in scenic terrain with heavy traffic and narrow streets would compromise residents’ ability.

“The largest issue around here is that there just simply is not room to securely assemble these monster developments,” explained Robert Heinz, who resides on Dollar Point near Tahoe City.

Heinz said he and his wife maintain a packed bag in the ready in the event. But they fear their willingness will do them good if visitors were in a standstill.

“Depending on which way the fire is coming we’d likely go in the opposite way, however, so would everybody else,” Heinz said.

Critics say the jobs show local and state governments need to pay attention to the way progress will impact the capability of individuals prior to approving new building to evacuate in case of a disaster.

Backers of those developments accuse critics of weaponizing deadly California fire disasters to stoke anti-development anxieties even as developers take action to make sure their projects are acceptable for fire-prone locations.

“I do not believe in withdrawing in the hills due to passion.”

“I know that there are some groups that need nothing, but this is private property which has certain rights to grow with county programs,” Morgan explained. “You don’t just walk away from that.”

Both jobs are in areas scientists and property managers telephone the urban interface, or even WUI.

And while WUI regions don’t always correlate with chance of passion destruction, they do in California. That is because the state, which is the most populous in the U.S., has enormous amounts of mountainside land together with overgrown vegetation that dries in summer near densely populated towns.

75 percent of buildings destroyed by wildfire have been at WUI zones, according to recent study. In states and Montana, that is sparsely inhabited, that figure is much less than 25 percent.

“There are a lot of buildings and there is a whole lot of woodland plant and they’re near one another, and there’s a whole lot of fire,” said Anu Kramer, a wildfire scientist in the Silvis Lab at the University of Wisconsin who ran the research. “When those things come together that’s when you are going to find a good deal of destruction”

“It isn’t a question that is unique to Tahoe, it’s a question that’s widely applied to the state of California,” Montgomery said.

Though she said her concerns were about congestion generally than fire evacuation specifically, montgomery was the vote to the Placer County Board of Supervisors against the Squaw Valley program.

“We have to have a significantly more robust public system that moves people inside and outside and ceases the insane reliance we have on single-family passenger vehicles,” Montgomery said.



Although the 2 proposals are from unrelated developers, their growth timelines and proximities to highways between North Lake Tahoe and Interstate 80 raise issues among critics, especially in regards to fire safety.

Combined, they would add more than 330,000 square feet of industrial area and about 1,500 housing units.

The Squaw Valley proposal calls for the redevelopment of about 93 acres at the base of Squaw Valley Resort.

Located at the western end of Olympic Valley, the hotel was the house of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games and, more recently, is known for bringing elite skiers and snowboarders.

The resort’s 25-year redevelopment plan calls for an additional 850 units behind almost 1,500 bedrooms, nearly 300,000 square feet of commercial space that would include restaurants, retail plus also a 90,000-square-foot Mountain Adventure Camp using a waterpark and other year-round amenities capable of hosting 1,200 guests.

If development programs come into fruition, additions to the resort also as expansion from the surrounding community could raise the number of people of the valley from about 5,800 to nearly 9,500, at total capacity. That is in addition when fire danger is low to day visitation, which peaks in the winter during ski season. Although conveniences in the planned development are designed to attract visitors throughout the year.

According to the program, both new and current visitors and residents would get homes and the hotel via Squaw Valley Road, which links to California Highway 89 in the east end of the valley.

The Martis Valley West development that was projected is located along Highway 267 roughly seven miles north of Olympic Valley as the crow flies and roughly 20 miles by road.

Currently undeveloped, the proposal requires as many as 760 homes and feet of commercial space.

People hanging out of this development could opt to take 267 north to Truckee or south over Brockway Summit into King’s Beach, once assembled.

Although the Placer County Board of Supervisors accepted the plans, both growth proposals remain tangled in litigation from environmental groups.

In the instance of Squaw Valley, Placer County Superior Court Judge Michael Jones rejected arguments by the environmental group Sierra Watch that the county conducted inadequate analysis of this project and violated California’s Brown Act, that insures the public’s right to take part in government decisions.

Sierra Watch is appealing the rulings.

In the instance of Martis Valley,” Jones ruled on the dilemma of fire in favour of environmental groups, while penalizing their arguments against the strategy.

“The (environmental impact report) defines the place as a very substantial fire hazard severity zone but fails to provide a sufficient evaluation to deal with impacts of the Project on emergency procedures,” Jones wrote.

Both the programmer and the ecological groups are appealing facets of Jones’ Martis Valley ruling.



Environmental groups, and a few residents, accuse both projects’ developers and the county of overlooking or downplaying the effect new development could have on people’s ability to flee during a wildfire.

Back in Squaw Valley, programmers and officials admit it’s possible a fire may approach quicker than Squaw Valley Road could be driven out by tens of thousands of people. Or, based on the direction, a fire could block access to the street.

In those situations, the developer and officials say visitors and residents would need to take refuge at the resort.

Allen Riley, leader of the Squaw Valley Fire Department, said the acres of bare sidewalk and village place would be adequate sanctuary for folks to survive a quick-moving fire, although evacuation would be the primary option.

Under the redevelopment plan, a lot of the surface parking has been supposed to be utilized for constructions, including parking garages, which might be used for shelter after building is finished.

Riley cited Rancho Santa Fe and Pepperdine University as well as communities in Australia in California in places where shelter-in-place strategies have worked.

“Certainly, our very first alternative is to have sufficient time, enough heads-up, to evacuate the valley,” Riley told the crowd in a public meeting on fire safety. “We are comfortable in saying that we have an area (in the hotel ) that may function as great security zone if needed.”

Critics say that’s not good .

Isaac Silverman, a lawyer for Sierra Watch, rejects the idea that shelter-in-place is appropriate for Squaw Valley because it has worked in parts of Australia and Southern California.

“People who are clean chaparral environments, they are not conifer forest environments,” Silverman said. “There is a specific type of firestorm that’s created in a woods.”

On the capability for 267 the issue centers with Martis Valley to take care of traffic during an emergency.

Even though the job plan requires seasonal and emergency entry roads to the evolution, these streets would also connect to 267 , a highway that is already crowded with visitors between Truckee and Lake Tahoe.

Based on project documents, it would require an estimated 1.3 to 1.5 hours to exude the development, sufficient time to get a fast-moving fire to burn through.

“Quite simply, the Project’s location and design are a recipe for catastrophic tragedy,” environmental groups claimed in court papers.

A possible increase in visitors also worries residents close to the lake who would might have to evacuate.



Developers supporting the jobs admit they are trying to build with traffic problems in high fire hazard areas.

But they assert the difficulties will exist with or without the newest growth.

Cohen said he is likely to coordinate drills in the resort’s readiness and Squaw Valley that will examine the community.

He explained the hotel has access to considerable amounts of personnel and water who may help individuals during a crisis.

“The proper approach for this place, not, is shelter-in-place,” Cohen explained. “I presume you’ll find individuals in Paradise who will tell you they should have had that. If there’d been shelter-in-place… fewer people would have perished in their automobiles.”

The city of Paradise didn’t have two designated gathering points for taxpayers, and a few rode the firestorm in the Paradise Alliance Church out. The second place had been a parking lot. Where they lived with the road out of town blocked, firefighters also started directing citizens into a supermarket parking lot.

Half of the Camp Fire’s 85 fatalities occurred in automobiles and two additional bodies were found near vehicles, although the majority of human remains were discovered based on Butte County count. Public and wildfire safety experts agree that early alcoholism is the first and best approach in wildfire’s path.

In Martis Valley,” Morgan said programmers are satisfied with their evacuation plan regardless of the court judgment it was insufficient.

On appeal through a meeting that the developers pushed back against the notion and in court that they do not possess an adequate strategy.

“Obviously, in the wake of the Camp Fire along with other recent disasters, nobody disputes that the seriousness of this wildland fire hazard, or the need for serious planning to get ready for such disasters,” Martis Valley West attorney Whit Manley wrote.