Victory in the Martis Valley

Press Release from Sierra Watch



Martis Valley, CA — March 29, 2006

Sierra conservation groups and a lead Martis Valley developer joined together today to announce an historic settlement agreement for the Tahoe-Truckee Region.

Under the agreement, developer DMB/Highlands, Mountain Area Preservation Foundation, and Sierra Watch resolve legal disputes over Siller Ranch and Hopkins Ranch development plans and establish a foundation for long-term collaboration on natural resource, open space, and workforce housing issues in the region. The agreement also creates a funding program that is projected to raise $36 million for open space protection, $18 million for habitat management, and $18 million for workforce housing in the region over the next 25 years.

Parties to the agreement asserted their hopes that it will become a model for wider cooperation and collaboration between conservationists and developers in the region. All parties to the settlement agreement expressed their appreciation for the collaborative nature of the discussions.

Martis Valley lies between Truckee and North Lake Tahoe, with 25,000 acres falling under the jurisdiction of Placer County. While Placer County is not a formal party to the agreement, key County planning officials have proactively encouraged the parties to meet and find a collaborative resolution, and they have expressed support for the settlement agreement.

“DMB/Highlands, Sierra Watch, and the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation demonstrated a great commitment to discuss and resolve these issues,” said Bruce Kranz, whose Supervisoral district includes Siller Ranch and Hopkins Ranch. “They have shown creativity in addressing some very thorny issues and their agreement will provide an opportunity for a long-term funding source that will support the County's long term goals for Martis Valley.”

Other conservation and community groups expressing support for the settlement agreement include former Siller Ranch development opponents the League to Save Lake Tahoe, the Planning and Conservation League, and the Sierra Club.

“Sierra Watch commends DMB/Highlands for their creative and collaborative approach to difficult planning issues, and we thank Placer County officials for providing the umbrella leadership for making this all possible,” David Welch of Sierra Watch. “After a long series of productive discussions, we have arrived at a resolution that is clearly in the best interests of the entire Tahoe-Truckee Region.”

“The parties to this agreement share a lot of common goals,” said Ron Parr of DMB/Highlands. “I think this agreement reflects a common vision for the future of the area. It permits limited, environmentally sensitive development. And it provides a large stream of funding to support long-term preservation of open space and natural habitats as well as desperately needed worker housing.”

The agreement calls for DMB/Highlands, Mountain Area Preservation Foundation, and Sierra Watch to join together to manage a new conveyance fee, which the county hopes to convert to a public financing tool that will be imposed on the sale and resale of homes and home sites at Siller Ranch. The fee is earmarked for open space preservation and habitat restoration, as well as the management and construction of workforce housing units. The fee is expected to raise more than $72 million for these three purposes over the first twenty-five years.

For the 2,100 acre Siller Ranch site, the agreement envisions 120 acres of newly designated open space, a maximum of 653 housing units, and a single 18-hole golf course. The agreement commits the entire 280-acre Hopkins Ranch site to open space and workforce housing. The workforce housing development is envisioned as the product of a community design process. Final land use approvals will be sought from Placer County.

“This settlement was truly a collaborative process,” said Eneas Kane of DMB/Highlands. “Our discussions have led to a revised plan that addresses all three of the major issues raised by the community. The conveyance fee will preserve potentially thousands of additional acres of open space, it will provide funds to restore natural habitats and money to build a significant number of homes for working families in the area. The money provided by this agreement and the programs that it will support are really the most important legacy of Siller Ranch.”

“Open space preservation and workforce housing are huge issues in our community,” said Stefanie Olivieri of the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation. “This agreement would never have happened without the goodwill and cooperation that Placer County, the landowner and the various conservation groups exhibited in voluntarily engaging in serious dialogue about these issues.”

“This is a great example of how we all – conservationists, property owners, and elected officials – can work together to forge a new vision that will benefit the developer, Placer County, and the Tahoe-Truckee communities for many generations to come,” said Kranz.

For more information about Sierra Watch, check out their website at, or contact:

Tom Mooers
Executive Director
phone: (530) 265-2849