Column:That’s Right, You’re Not From Texas |

Column:That’s Right, You’re Not From Texas

Texas is calling, and I am headed home.

It’s the state where I was born, and lived for 24 of my 29 years. It’s

where my family is, and where most of my best friends still live.

There’s something about Texas that calls many of us transplants home. It’s

even strong enough to overcome the undeniable allure of the Sierra.

Regrettably, that’s not the only factor which spurred my decision to leave

– there’s also the ongoing “Aspenization” of Truckee, which shows no signs

of slowing. I love this town, and I don’t want to move, but I simply

cannot afford to live here any longer. That’s not a salary complaint –

there is no realistic way for a weekly newspaper to pay employees enough

to buy a home in this area any longer.

In a community where “real” (not illegal second unit) one-bedroom

apartments start at more than $600 per month, it is difficult for anyone

with a middle class job to do more than eke by on a day-to-day basis. At

age 29, I’m past the stage where I want to live like a college student,

sharing a house with several roommates.

As for buying a house … it’s a rather blackly comic thought for anyone

who lives here and hasn’t made a million or two already. Starting home

prices have increased from around $85,000 when I moved here in 1997 to

around $220,000 today. For the conspicuously (and often obnoxiously) rich,

it seems money can buy happiness, and just about everything else,

including our town, but where does that leave the rest of us?

Some local workers have already made a move – relocating to Reno or Verdi

and commuting to Truckee to work. It seems pointless to me. If you love a

place like Truckee enough to work here, you should be able to live here as

well. There’s no joy in commuting to work each day in a beautiful place

and returning each night to concrete-covered suburbia.

Sierraville is another option, but prices there have already spiked

sharply in response to the Truckee market. Don’t expect them to ever go

down again.

Affordable housing is now and will continue to be an issue of crucial

importance for this area. Apartment complexes are not the sole answer.

Affordable housing must include subdivisions like those which have been

created in some Colorado communities like Telluride, which are

price-controlled and available only to local full-time workers.

If something is not done soon, most Truckee “locals” in the near future

will be commuting from Reno to work in their former hometown – employees

in a theme park to provide amusement for the nouveau rich.

Locals – real, full-time locals – must become involved now, if they want

any say in the future of the town.

Too often at council meetings, the comments heard are from those members

of the public who view Truckee as a playground. Council is receptive on

the affordable housing issue and is working to address it, but your

comments are needed – comments from the people who plow driveways, work

for local industry and teach Truckee’s children. It’s rough making council

meetings after a full day of work, but it is a necessity to make your

voices heard on this and many other issues of local interest. Working

class locals should keep the issues of affordability and livability in the

forefront. Otherwise, the future of Truckee could wind up being decided by

the new and growing breed of faux locals – millionaires with

3,000-square-foot cabins which they use for two weeks each year.

I’ve enjoyed my time in Truckee, and I hope to return to visit in the

future. I just hope the small town I loved and the friends I made will

still be here when I do. At least I’ll know how to drive in the roundabout.

John A. Bayless is the outgoing editor of the Sierra Sun.

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