Martis Valley West Project: Fact Check


East West Partners has a Web site purporting to list the facts pertaining to the Martis Valley West Project.

Here, we deconstruct the spin to give you the real picture.

What East West Says

How Accurate?

The Truth

The land East West is attempting to develop is already under “intensive use.”


A portion of the land is used by hikers, mountain bikers, and cross-country skiers, but it sits within a large tract of undeveloped forest. By any rational measure, this is not “intensive use.”
The Martis Valley West Parcel Project represents a cooperative conservation and development plan in the Truckee – North Tahoe region.

Half True

Two conservation groups, Sierra Watch and Mountain Area Preservation, were involved in this agreement, but the Tahoe Basin portion was not a part of the original deal. Many other conservation groups, including Friends of the West Shore and the Tahoe Area Sierra Club, oppose this development in the Tahoe Basin.


The tourist accommodation units proposed for the 112.8 acres within the Basin for the MVWP would have to be transferred from another location within the Basin.

Half True


This is true, but what they don’t tell you is that much smaller units, such as motel rooms that haven’t been used in years, can be “retired” to build units that are many times their size.
There will be net environmental gains realized by replacing existing sub-par units near Lake Tahoe with new units in the upland location.

Mostly False

There is no scientific evidence supporting the claim that any net environmental benefits can be realized in the Tahoe Basin from this project. There has never been any environmental analysis of these supposed “sub-par units” (which can be “transferred” from anywhere in the Tahoe Basin, including South Shore at 30-plus miles away), what their current environmental impacts are (including vehicle-trip generation) and what the impacts will be from their removal and restoration, compared to what the impact of new development in a currently forested area will be.


It will also locate development near an existing resort.


An entirely new infrastructure supporting this massive new development will have to be built from scratch. The casinos at South Shore are “near a resort” (a couple of miles from Heavenly Valley, with full infrastructure already in place) – this proposed project site is more than five miles away from the nearest resort (Northstar), and there is NO power, water, roads, or other infrastructure that would be needed to support new construction of this size.


The Project is not seeking any height variances and will comply with code. Mostly True

No height variances are needed when Placer County’s Code would already allow 115′ buildings (which would, of course, be clearly visible from Tahoe) on the Northstar side of the Basin boundary.

The MVWP Project will provide onsite amenities, such as a sundries and coffee shop, and recreational facilities that will provide services for residences, thereby reducing reliance on vehicles.

Mostly False

Residents will need more than coffee and recreational facilities to live; they will have to drive to places like Kings Beach or Truckee for daily necessities like groceries and gas. Also, as there are currently no vehicle trips made by residents in this area – because there are no current residents –it is incorrect to say the project will “reduce reliance on vehicles.” The project will create a net increase in vehicle trips; even if it’s slightly less of an increase because of these on-site amenities, it is still a significant net increase in traffic.


Because the East Parcel is zoned to allow up to 1,360 units, and the proposed rezone of the West Parcel would allow 760 units, there would be a net reduction of 600 units in residential development potential within the Martis Valley Community Plan.

Mostly False

The 1,360 units were never built, and it was never a given that 1,360 units would be approved anyway (environmental analysis would have to be done first). This is developer spin, plain and simple – touting their willingness to give up units that don’t exist and can’t be counted.
People will say, ‘Well, you’re moving development here in Martis Valley and putting it in the Basin,’ and that’s not true because it will always be net zero in the Basin,” [Blake Riva of East West Partners] said. “Any unit we build in the Basin, we’ve got to remove (one).”


This statement sidesteps the issue that the retired units do not have to be comparable to those being built. Rather, the existing units to be “removed” are most likely small motel rooms whose development rights will be transferred and used to build more than a hundred homes – each of which will be many times the size of the “removed” units. Unless a truly identical amount of square footage is removed elsewhere, including the buildings’ total footprint on the ground, the associated paved areas used for roads, driveways, and parking lots, and all other development associated with the “to-be-removed” small units, it is simply incorrect to claim a “net zero” impact.


Project impacts on the night sky are expected to be minimal.


This is misleading. The current ridgeline is dark at night, and views from Lake Tahoe include shadowed ridgelines topped by starry skies. Adding homes to this ridgeline will add light – period. This will forever destroy the beautiful nighttime views of this currently undeveloped forest.

Conceptual renderings of what before- and after-development scenarios might look like: