What are the advantages of being a town?

Cities and towns incorporate to have a more local government, with more self-determination.  The two specific reasons that most cities and towns incorporate are to have greater control of land use planning and regulation, and tax revenues.1   Local control of land use means that a new town will have a planning department, update the general plan with input from residents, and have jurisdiction over development projects within town boundaries.  Local control of tax revenues means that spending will be prioritized according to what is important to the residents.

What is the proposed name of the town?

The proposed name of the town is Olympic Valley, which would be consistent with the US Postal Service and not conflict with the existing Squaw Valley in Fresno County.

What are the proposed boundaries of the Town of Olympic Valley?

The proposed boundaries are identical to the boundaries of the Squaw Valley Public Service District.  They encompass the whole valley from ridgeline on the south to the ridgeline on the north, and extend north along the Truckee river for several miles and south along the river until Alpine Meadows bridge.

Would the Town of Olympic Valley be fiscally viable?

Since a Town of Olympic Valley would have high hotel tax revenues per capita, plus other tax revenues, it would be fiscally viable.  Initial estimates are of annual revenues of $4,919,000 and annual expenses well below that.  A “revenue neutrality” agreement with Placer County is required prior to incorporation and should “result in a similar exchange of both revenue and responsibility for service delivery among the county, the proposed city and other subject agencies.”11 

Where would the Town of Olympic Valley get its tax revenues?

The town’s two main sources of revenue would be a share of the existing Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT, i.e. hotel bed taxes) and a percentage of existing Property Taxes (typically 10% to 20% of the County’s share with the balance going to schools and special districts).  Smaller revenue sources would be property transfer taxes (paid when a real property transaction is recorded with the County Recorder), a small percentage of sales taxes on sales that occur within the new town’s boundaries, gasoline taxes distributed from a state-wide pool based on town population and based on 50% of snow removal costs, franchise fees on utility lines which run through Town, and business license taxes if the Town imposes them or maintains the County’s existing business license taxes.[11]

Would incorporation raise my taxes?

No.  The California Constitution requires 2/3 voter approval before new taxes can be imposed.  The Town of Olympic Valley would have excellent tax revenues, even with a relatively low hotel tax rate of 10% and the current number of hotel beds.  Hotel rooms built after incorporation would result in increased TOT revenues. 

How would incorporating as a Town affect development proposals?

Jurisdiction over land use passes from a county to a new city or town.  California state law provides protection for newly incorporated cities regarding land use.  Newly incorporated cities inherit planning and approvals from the county, but they may choose whether or not to use the planning and approvals that they inherit. For large development proposals, the entire process may take up to seven years or even longer. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8    When the Incorporation of Olympic Valley is finalized, it is likely that the town will have jurisdiction over developments currently in the planning phases because the signatures on the Certified Petition for Incorporation predate any such Developer Agreement Applications or Vested Maps.

How could public services be divided between a Town of Olympic Valley, Placer County, the Squaw Valley Public Service District, and other public agencies?

Under the proposal currently being discussed, the service division would be:

Public Service Current Provider Post Incorporation Provider
Administrative Services Placer County Town of Olympic Valley
Animal Control Placer County Contract with Placer County
Building Inspection Placer County Town of Olympic Valley
Flood Control Placer County Town of Olympic Valley and Placer County
Emergency Medical Squaw Valley Public Service District No change
Fire Protection Squaw Valley PSD & Cal Fire No change
Land Use Planning and Regulation Placer County Town of Olympic Valley
Libraries Placer County No change
Parks and Recreation Tahoe City Public Utility District Town of Olympic Valley
Police Protection Placer County Contract with Placer County
Public Transit Placer County No change
Snow Removal,Roads Maintenance,and Public Works Placer County Town of Olympic Valley
Trash Collection and Disposal Squaw Valley Public Service District currently contracting with Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal No change
Visitors’ Services- north Tahoe Marketing, Transit, capital improvements Placer County Town of Olympic Valley and/or Placer County
Water and Sewer Squaw Valley Public Service District, Squaw Valley Mutual Water Co. No change
Welfare, Child Protective Services Placer County No change

 Would incorporation affect water rights?

No. The Squaw Valley Public Service District, and Squaw Valley Mutual Water Company would remain independent, with their own elected Board of Directors.  Cities and towns do not have the authority to order the reorganization of independent special districts.  If special districts themselves or LAFCO proposes reorganization and the reorganization is protested in writing, then the reorganization must be approved by the voters within the special district.9, 10 

What is a LAFCO?

Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCOs) are state agencies that oversee the incorporations of cities and towns, and the boundary changes and spheres of influence of cities, towns, and special districts.  Every California county has a LAFCO, but they are planning and regulatory agencies independent of the county, authorized by the state legislature.  Placer County’s LAFCO is composed of two county supervisors, two mayors or city council members from the six existing cities and towns, two members from special districts, and one public member appointed by the other six.14, 15 

What are the steps to incorporation?11

  1. Pre-initiation: An unincorporated area must: (1) have a minimum of 500 registered voters, (2) have logical boundaries, (3) be fiscally viable (in the sense that cost of the services the new city or town will provide can be funded from available revenues).  As of April 2013 Squaw Valley had 538 registered voters and over 1,000 residents.
  2. Initiation: Incorporation is initiated by a petition signed by 25% or more of the registered voters in a proposed town.  Olympic Valley’s petition for incorporation was Certified as Sufficient by Placer County in August, 2013.
  3. Incorporation application and LAFCO review. A Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis of the proposed town is done to estimate the cost of the services it will provide and its share of existing government revenues.  A “revenue neutrality” agreement is negotiated with the county to ensure incorporation does not harm the county financially.  An environmental impact report may be necessary.
  4. LAFCO hearings and decision.
  5. Election: Incorporation is decided by a simple majority of registered voters in the boundaries of the new town voting on a ballot measure.11 

How long would incorporation take?

18 to 24 months is realistic.

How much would incorporation cost?

Incorporation would probably cost approximately $105,000. This would include attorneys’ costs ($15,000), an Initial Fiscal Analysis ($5,000), LAFCO fees and expenses ($25,000), a comprehensive fiscal analysis ($35,000), costs of a revenue negotiator ($10,000), special election costs ($5,000), and miscellaneous ($10,000). 

What is the negotiation process?

Click here for a presentation by Vito Palermo.



1 It’s Time to Draw the Line: A Citizen’s Guide to LAFCOs, California’s Local Agency Formation Commissions, http://www.napa.lafco.ca.gov/uploads/documents/TimetoDrawLine_LAFCOs.pdf

2 League of California Cities, http://www.cacities.org

3 Growth Control by the Ballot Box: California’s Experience, http://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1680&context=llr

4 California Planning Guide: An Introduction to Planning in California, http://opr.ca.gov/docs/California_Planning_Guide_2005.pdf

5 Ballot Box Planning and Growth Management, http://www.lgc.org/freepub/docs/community_design/reports/ballot_box_manual.pdf

6 Land Use 101


7 CEQA and Beyond


8 Land Use Entitlements and Land Use Litigation, http://taflaw.net/practice-areas/land-use-entitlements-and-land-use-litigation/

9 What’s So Special About Special Districts? A Citizen’s Guide to Special Districts in California, http://www.csda.net/full-remositoy-menu/func-startdown/12/

10 It’s About Quality, Not Quantity, http://www.csda.net/about/CSDA%20Fact%20Sheets%202.pdf

11 A Guide to the LAFCO Process for Incorporations



12 Voter Registration – California Secretary of State, http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_faq.htm

13 League of Women Voters of California – Voter Registration – More in Depth, http://www.cavotes.org/vote/register/more#residence

14 Growth Within Bounds – Planning California Governance for the 21st Century, http://opr.ca.gov/docs/79515.pdf

15 Placer County Local Agency Formation Commission, http://www.placer.ca.gov/departments/lafco


Paid for by Incorporate Olympic Valley PAC