Olympic Valley, also known as Squaw Valley, is a community on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore and home to the famous Squaw Valley Ski resort. A four-year drought seriously hurt the area’s resorts, but Olympic Valley’s ski destinations are recovering thanks to an early winter this year. However, Olympic Valley was also facing an internal conflict. The community’s struggle with dry conditions took place at the same time as a political struggle over the prospect of incorporating the area.
Residents who supported incorporating Olympic Valley into a separate town found resistance from others who feared that incorporation would bring with it higher taxes and exacerbate the community’s financial woes. Andy Wirth, CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, was quoted in the Reno Gazette-Journal as saying, “It was truly a recipe for disaster, financial disaster.”
Wirth went on to explain that the proposal had far-reaching implications. Incorporation would cut Olympic Valley off from other North Shore communities, which currently pool their money along with Olympic Valley to deal with regional issues. According to Wirth, the quality of local services, such as snowplowing and road upkeep would likewise suffer.
The proposal was rejected by California’s Local Agency Formation Commission on the grounds that the new town would not be financially viable, bringing the controversy to an end. Wirth believes that with the incorporation question settled, Olympic Valley can now turn its attention to transportation and infrastructure, issues in dire need of attention.
Before becoming CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, Andy Wirth accumulated a wealth of experience in international resort management. A true outdoorsman, he nearly died in a skydiving accident. The near-death experience inspired him to found an Ironman team in support of the Navy SEAL Foundation, which supports SEALs and their family upon their return home.