Keeping an eye on growth | SierraSun.com

Keeping an eye on growth

Greyson HowardSierra Sun

Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunConstruction workers at Frishman Hollow.

With several large developments looming on Truckees horizon, it may seem like the town is growing at break-neck speed.But taking the long view, town officials say things arent moving any faster than in past years, and things may slow down more with the current real estate market.If you look at growth over the last eight years its actually been less than in the 1980s or even the 90s, said Duane Hall, Truckee town planner. It just wasnt new projects, it was development in Tahoe Donner and Glenshire.In 2007, 330 new homes were built, which is 57 more than in 2006, and 131 more than in 2005, according to the towns annual Community Development Report.That increase is more likely a fluke than a trend a function of homes started during the real estate boom that are just being finished, Hall said.The economy will probably have the most influence over what happens in the next couple years, Hall said.John Eaton, president of the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation, agreed that the market should slow construction down, but thought that past growth was moving too fast.There is a gross excess of housing we dont need, and not enough of what we do need, Eaton said. But I think the market is working and prices are coming down.Owners of townhome developments like Stoneridge, Spring Creek and the Boulders, which already have units on the ground, are waiting to start the last phases of their projects until the market picks up again, said John McLaughlin, Truckees community development director.They are taking a look at whats on the horizon before jumping in, McLaughlin said.But larger projects coming to Truckee Joerger Ranch, Coldstream, Railyard, and Hilltop havent slowed in their planning efforts, Hall said.

Located above downtown Truckee next to the Cottonwood Restaurant, Hilltop could go to the town council for a decision as soon as May, Hall said.Following behind Hilltop in the planning process, the Railyard, which would be located to the east of downtown in the old lumber mill site, is working its way through the public review process he said.But Joerger Ranch, sited near Highway 267 and Brockway Road, has gone back to the drawing board, McLaughlin said.They werent going to get anywhere with that plan, they had to go back and the timing happened to work with the economy, McLaughlin said.Meanwhile, Teichert andamp; Sons, the developer of Planned Community One at the mouth of Coldstream Canyon next to Donner Memorial State Park, are working with town staff on the plan before bringing it to a public meeting, Hall said.Overall, however, the town is expecting to be affected by the economic downturn, Hall said.But unlike other communities, I think our growth has been much more restrained, so we arent going to see the high foreclosure rates and abandoned subdivisions, he said. Things arent going to come to a complete stop.The slowdown will give town staff a chance to shift priorities, working on issues like open space, Hall said. A town council sub-committee surveyed the community in 2004, and found 73 percent surveyed would be in favor of an open space tax.It may be time to restart that process, Hall said.Eaton said the recent assessments may have cooled residents to another tax, instead suggesting a way to encourage developers to build in town, preserving open space around the periphery.

With the annual Community Development Report, the town isnt just keeping tabs on how much growth is occurring, but also what types.The percentage of attached, multi-family type homes has risen, said Duane Hall, Truckee town planner, partially due to the towns affordable housing efforts.The single family homes are mostly second home owners, which is being counter-balanced by affordable housing, Hall said. Its important to keep the primary to secondary homes balanced versus becoming Aspen.