Highway 267 between Lake Tahoe, Northstar named for late senator
KINGS BEACH, Calif. — On Sept. 7, Sen. Ted Gaines joined other residents and dignitaries on Highway 267, near mile marker 4.89 (between Northstar and Brockway Summit), to honor former Sen. Paul J. Lunardi.
One of Paul’s children, Nancy Lunardi, was also on hand for the ceremony to dedicate the five miles of Highway 267 in Placer County from marker 4.89 to the Highway 28 intersection in Kings Beach as the “Senator Paul J. Lunardi Memorial Highway.”
Lunardi was born Sept. 30, 1921, in Roseville, Calif. He graduated from Roseville High School. He briefly attended the Western School of Business in Sacramento, California.
Until his death on Jan. 11, 2013, Lunardi lived nearly his entire life in the home he had built in Roseville, located next-door to the home in which he was born.
Sen. Lunardi, a Democrat, first worked as a laborer and boilermaker helper at the Southern Pacific Railroad yards in Roseville in 1941-1942.
Between October 1942 and February 1946, he served in the United States Coast Guard in the Pacific Theater of World War II. He participated in the Allied invasion at Bougainville in Papua, New Guinea, where he piloted an LCVP (Higgins) landing craft transporting Marines to the beaches. He left the Coast Guard with the rank of Petty Officer.
After returning to Roseville, he was once again briefly employed by Southern Pacific Railroad, and he and a partner subsequently operated two Texaco distributorships in Roseville from 1946 until 1958.
Lunardi began his political career in 1950 when he was elected to the Roseville City Council, where he served from 1950 to 1958. He served as mayor from 1954 to 1956 and again in 1958.
When he was elected mayor in 1954, he was the youngest person ever elected to that office in Roseville, and was featured in a Life Magazine feature about All-American Cities.
During his tenure, Lunardi was a leader in civic movements to establish a community hospital; develop a municipal fire department; establish a city manager form of government; establish an updated street lighting system; and to obtain Central Valley Project power and expand sewage, water and electric distribution systems.
His outstanding record of achievement earned him a highly coveted “Outstanding Young Men of California” award presented by the State Junior Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 8, 1955.
In 1958, he was elected to the California State Assembly in the Sixth District, and was reelected in 1960 and 1962. In 1963, he was elected to fill an unexpired term in the California State Senate.
He was elected to a full State Senate term in 1964, where he served until October of 1966. He left the Senate to become Legislative Advocate for the California Wine Institute, and held that position until he retired in December of 1988.
Among his many legislative accomplishments, he was most proud of: designating the mining ghost town of Bodie as a State Historic Park; introducing the first bill in state history to assess farmland at a lower tax rate (which was later enacted as what is now known as the Williamson Act); and creating the “Truckee shortcut” — Highway 267 — which linked the cities of Truckee and Kings Beach.
Prior to 1965, the highway was regularly closed by snow in the winter. Lunardi’s legislation enabled the road to remain open year-round, worth millions of dollars to the area’s tourism and ski industries, and eventually allowed for the development of the Northstar ski resort. Visit cahighways.org to learn more.