Election 2010: Town council candidates talk parking, big box stores
TRUCKEE and#8212; Four candidates wrestling for the three open positions on the Truckee Town Council handled numerous questions at Tuesday’s forum, including the prominent issues of paid parking regulations and the potential allowance of big box retail stores.
Convening at town council chambers, incumbents Mark Brown, Richard Anderson and Carolyn Wallace Dee met with challenger Carl Jeffries to answer questions crafted by the public, the Sierra Sun and Moonshine Ink.
Below are two questions asked during the night and candidates responses.
Anderson: Paid parking has been controversial and I will be sitting on a working group which will be starting up this late autumn or I think early winter. And I hope people are applying for that group because it’s an important issue in this community.
It’s probably a little early to start watching solutions but it seems to me that one of the issues that seems obvious is that we’re running roughly 10 tickets a day, and if we’re running 10 tickets a day, that implies a failure in signage, a failure perhaps in the sorts of meters that we have.
But the biggest problem is going to be how do we finance the leases that are costing us roughly $100,000 a year and which are intended to be paid for through parking revenue?
Jeffries: Well, I don’t like parking meters to start off with and all that type of stuff. I feel that it kills downtown especially when you have a whole business district that has free parking. So why would you go downtown when you have all this free parking? I think it will kill the downtown over time, and the downtown is already suffering, and this is just one more nail in the coffin.
Brown: I think that this new commission that is forming is just another fine example of how the town is listening to the citizens and reacting to their issues. Because, when we first started with paid parking we started with a high threshold of having the landlord have some compensation from the town for maintaining the streets in front of their business and that didn’t work.
We then said how about the merchants, would they be willing to step up and help to maintain the streets; because again, Highway 40 used to be in the state budget. It’s no longer in the state budget. It’s back in our budget. So how do we maintain that? We were going to lose the main parking lot across the street between the fire station and the chamber of commerce office. That would have killed the downtown with a lack of parking.
So we went to the next level, which was saying we need to have paid parking. It’s not a good solution that’s why we’re coming back again with another working group. I hope we find a better solution and keep this going and work with the Union Pacific Railroad to get a solution to that.
Wallace Dee: We took the parking lots over from the merchants and yes they do need to be paid for. But one of the failures in this program is we failed to communicate well with the public, and that’s not just what the program is about, but where the parking meters are where you need to pay. And I think that has a lot to do with the number of tickets we’re writing a day. A thorough study does need to be done but I think right now we can start on a communication program and educate the people coming into town so they don’t get tickets.
Jeffries: I really don’t like big boxes coming into quaint little towns like (Truckee). It is kind of the soul of these towns to have these businesses and we do have the part of town, west of town, that does have the bigger stores. I would be really be against bringing in that kind of thing, and that’s all I have to say.
Brown: I think that the 40,000 square-foot limit on businesses sets a standard for what we want in our town. This was a driving force to get us incorporated many years ago when people outside said we needed to have a K-Mart here. I don’t think we really wanted a K-Mart. As far as the leakage that we have of the retail businesses I think there’s enough businesses in our area that can give a good product for what you want. In this area if you are looking for convenience we have it. If you have a large family I’m sure that there are other measures that you have to take into consideration especially in this economy. As far as repealing the 40,000 square-foot limit, no, it would totally ruin our character. You might as well put a truck station out there at the airport flats.
Wallace Dee: I cant support big box construction here either. I have to agree but I think what we need to do is look at how we help stimulate our local businesses. 50 percent of our sales tax is from the construction industry and construction goods. And the only way that sales tax is going to recover is through economic development and bringing growth into Truckee and helping our own economy. I don’t think big box is the way to do it.
Anderson: Yes, there has been a drop is sales tax revenue. And that drop is a result primarily if not entirely from the current downturn. It’s a recession that I presume ended in June of 2009 but we’re still feeling it here in town. Small stores define our character. Large stores do not define our character. And also large stores have an impact on the small stores that are so important to our downtown and to other areas of our community. In essence, I would not be in favor of repealing our 40,000 square-foot limitation on retail.
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The Truckee Town Council has unanimously approved of a pilot program to remove snow on privately maintained paved trails in the area.