A conversation with County Supervisor Barbara Green
When Barbara Green was sworn in as the chairwomen of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors in January, it marked the first time in over 30 years that a resident of Truckee sat at the helm of the board. It also marked her first anniversary as the Nevada County Fifth District Supervisor.
Green has been a resident of Truckee since 1991.
The daughter, and granddaughter of West Point graduates, she grew up as an Army brat. Green eventually settled in the south bay city of Sunnyvale, where she lived until moving to Truckee. She has worked for the past several years as a realtor before being elected to the board of supervisors in fall 2000.
The Sierra Sun recently sat down with Green to see how her first year has gone, what she feels are the biggest challenges currently facing the county and the town of Truckee and where she stands on some of the issues in the news.
Here are some of the excerpts:
Sierra Sun-What do you see as the biggest issue(s) facing Truckee and Nevada County?
Barbara Green -For the county, it’s financial challenges based on the economy. And I think for Truckee, it’s growth and its impact.
I also want to do an economic study of Donner Summit … and explore the possibilities of mixed use zoning, where you have a shop, like a grocery store or something like it, and you have housing above it.
Sierra Sun-What are your thoughts on Natural Heritage 2020? Do you support the plan?
Barbara Green -Well, I’m one of the creators of it, and what it is a long-range planning process… And what we are doing is trying to assess where growth should occur in the county-not whether, but where- and try to account for migration corridors for wildlife and for any endangered species, and the only way to do that is to do a biotic inventory.
We did that inventory and we didn’t find any endangered species (laughs).
And we made it a public process and let the public take part, and did it all out in the open with the citizens committee.
Sierra Sun- Why is it such a controversial plan?
Barbara Green – People have made it a controversial issue. It, in itself, is not a controversial issue. We didn’t intend it to be.
But people have turned it into a hot potato for their own political benefit.
Sierra Sun- How?
Barbara Green- By passing around rumors that aren’t true, like it’s a United Nations plot, that sort of thing.
The reality is when the citizens committee comes up with a recommendation this fall – and we don’t know what it will be, but maybe it will be to go to the ballot to create an open space district – it is a natural process of a citizens’ group’s recommendation to the board to go to the ballot, or whatever recommendation they want to make.
Sierra Sun-Any thoughts on the Martis Valley Community Update Plan?
Barbara Green -It’s too bad this plan wasn’t regionally created, like it was in the 1970s, when Nevada County had a seat. [Nevada County] wasn’t invited this time… It should have been more of a regional plan because the impacts are regional. And the urbanization of the valley is going to totally change the character of the area.
The environmental impact report is really going to be worth reading.
Sierra Sun-Can you talk about your background in public service?
Barbara Green -Yes. I was on the board of the Midpensiula Regional Open Space District, and I was elected three times [with four year terms] to that board.
We had a taxpayer base, a property tax base, and it was a district that the voters created in 1972. So we had a budget of several million dollars every year, and while I was on the board, we bought over 30,000 acres [that were preserved as open space] with the taxpayers money… We wanted to preserve the foothills, and those hills are saved forever. And the people own them.
Sierra Sun- Why did you run for Fifth District Supervisor seat?
Barbara Green- Sam Dardick. I was his planning commissioner, and he decided he wasn’t running again, and so he asked me to run, because he wanted to have a continuing philosophy on the board and he knew what my philosophy was.
Sierra Sun-Which is?
Barbara Green – Environmentally sound and planned growth. And also, I lived in Truckee, and the Fifth District [which includes Truckee] made up 62 percent of the county. After redistricting last year, it now makes up 52 percent.
Sierra Sun -With the environment being such a hot button issue in Nevada County, I’m surprised you are willing to label yourself an environmentalist.
Barbara Green-Well, we all moved here because we love the environment, and we are growing, and we just have to grow in a responsible, planned manner. You can’t just have mass, unplanned growth and still retain the rural character of the area.
And with seven years on the planning commission, I was really involved in approving development that was carefully thought through, had infrastructure in place, like sewage, roads and obeyed the general plan by retaining viewsheds and riparian corridors. You can still grow, you just have to do it very carefully.
Sierra Sun- And doing it carefully entails what?
Barbara Green -Planning. Planning for infrastructure, planning for compatible land uses.
Sierra Sun-Can you give me an example of incompatible land uses?
Barbara Green-Yeah. Building $2 million homes next to an airport, that would be incompatible (laughs).
And there is part of the [Nevada County] general plan that allows you to build an auto repair yard next to a residential area with zero setbacks. That’s the kind of thing I would object to.
Sierra Sun – What is your view on the relationship between the eastern part and western part of Nevada County?
Barbara Green- It’s getting a lot better all the time. It’s such a diverse county, but having a supervisor from Truckee that has a friendly working relationship with the other supervisors and the staff is really positive. I’m seeing a tremendous change in the attitude and the working relationship in the county.
And being the chair [of the board] also helps because you always meet with the department heads, the CEO of the county and the county counsel a week before each meeting, and we go over the agenda … It gives the chair a chance to say ‘Where is Truckee’s share.’
And in the past that hasn’t happened because there hasn’t been a chair from Truckee in over 30 years.
Sierra Sun – Do you have any thoughts on the upcoming March 5 elections for the board of supervisors.
Barbara Green- Bruce Conkiln has two opponents and Izzy Martin has four opponents … and with that many opponents there is probably going to be a runoff.
But I would love to see Izzy win outright, and I would love to see Bruce win outright too.
Sierra Sun- Do you have any hobbies