Truckee Town Council candidates talk affordable housing, General Plan | SierraSun.com

Truckee Town Council candidates talk affordable housing, General Plan

Hannah Jones
hjones@sierrasun.com

The race for Truckee Town Council's three open seats is nearing an end with seven candidates focused on access to affordable housing, the town's approaching General Plan update and how these issues will affect Truckee's image as a small inclusive mountain town.

Challengers for the seats include Anna Klovstad, Truckee Elementary Project manager; David Polivy, owner of Tahoe Mountain Sports and current planning commissioner; Chelsea Walterscheid, program manager at Sierra Business Council; Suzie Tarnay, substitute teacher and Truckee Elementary School volunteer; Richard Ludke, Safety and Occupational Health Officer for Tahoe National Forest; Carmen Carr, Global Real Estate Advisor; and Morgan Goodwin, the sole incumbent on the ballot.

All candidates have expressed the need for immediate action to combat Truckee's housing crisis with candidates Klovstad, Polivy, and Goodwin calling it the number one issue facing the town.

Tarnay suggests increasing the number of affordable housing units required by Truckee's Inclusionary Housing Ordinance from 15 percent to 25 percent, the same as Boulder, Colo. This would require one affordable unit for every four market rate unit. She also said she would look at increasing the in lieu housing fee.

"I'd like this fee to help cover the gap cost between affordable and market rate housing," she said.

Candidate Carmen Carr also suggests looking at the fee structure and making adjustments in a way that will encourage developers to take on affordable housing projects. She also suggests implementing new measures to process housing permits more efficiently.

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"I would continue the engagement of the many employers on this solution," said Klovstad, adding that the town needs to work with homeowner associations and property owners to utilize housing that is already here but may be unoccupied.

"These are available now and we need them now," she said. As a construction manager for the past three years, she said she understands the time it takes to develop, design, permit and build projects.

"We should set a goal of 1,000 new or unlocked units in five years to help focus land-use, development and funding decisions and measure our success," said Goodwin. "That goal will allow us to make decisions about zoning, funding and prioritization more clearly."

Walterscheid said the work ahead needs study to find solutions.

"In addition to the housing consultant the town currently works with, it is time for a dedicated staff person who will be 100 percent devoted to researching and understanding all the tools available at local, state, and federal levels," said Walterscheid.

As short-term solutions Polivy suggests waiving certain fees for specific types of housing projects, adjusting the fee schedule to allow builders to repay the fees once the project is producing revenue and using zoning designations and densities as minimum requirements for projects. Long-term solutions include hiring a regional housing director, finding a way to fill the financial gap in affordable housing projects and increasing densities in where applicable, possibly at the Railyard. He also suggested working with HOAs to amend their regulations to allow for secondary-dwelling units.

"I'd like businesses to have the opportunity to build housing for their own employees," said Ludke. "The town can help by staying out of their way."

Ludke also suggested reducing fees and regulations that could deter developers from housing projects.

General Plan

The town's anticipated growth and development has candidates looking toward the General Plan updates to address future development issues. While meant to be just an update, it could turn out to be a redesign.

"In the past year or two it has become abundantly clear that our General Plan update is going to need to be a full overhaul, not just a wording update," said Tarnay. "The former general plan has excellent goals and ideals. These ideals just need to be solidified into numerical triggers and concrete action plans."

"I think this General Plan update will be a significant update, just shy of a larger overhaul," said Polivy. He said he is looking towards planning more proactively to increase densities in the downtown core. "It's also an opportunity to revisit those sites in town that should remain green belts and open space to ensure our natural environment retains its character."

Klovstad, who will be serving as the sustainability expert on the General Plan Advisory Committee said the update is her critical focus.

"This is where most of the community's concerns will need to be addressed including housing. We need to do it right," she said.

Carr said she will also be assisting in the update to control urban sprawl and incentivize quality development throughout the town.

"In 20 years, our community can be home to a vibrant, diverse workforce. It can run on renewable energy sources and be connected with safe bicycle trails, all while being faithful to our roots and culture," she said.

Encouraging the development of bike trails to encourage alternate forms of transportation to lower the town's greenhouse gas emissions are also priorities, Carr said.

"The General Plan process is very important right now and the process will be as comprehensive as it needs to be to take into account our changing economy, housing needs, growth patterns and values," said Goodwin, who agreed the review could be more than just an update.

"The Town has done a good job so far in its relatively young municipal history," said Walterscheid, who will also be serving on the General Plan Advisory Committee. "The community voice will help clarify and determine whether we move forward with an update or an overhaul."

Ludke said the update should continue to work with zoning regulations and allow for higher densities instead of development sprawling outwards. He said parking will also be an issue to be studied.

"For any building we build, parking has to be a part of that equation," Ludke said.

Q&A with the candidates

The Truckee Town Council is made up of five members, who each serve four-year terms. Terms are staggered between council members and elections are held every other year.

Carmen Carr

Carmen Carr has served on the board of the Family Resource Center of Truckee for the past 10 years serving as chair since 2014. She is a founding member of Mountain High Business Networking International, elected in 2011 as director for the regional BNI in Central Valley. She is also a member of Toastmasters International, an organization that promotes communication and leadership development, starting a local club named Truckee Talkers in 2011.

Why are you running for council?

I have lived in Truckee since 1986, observing change and transition. I am passionate about this community and envision achieving balanced well-being for our families and the future of our town. I am running for Truckee Town Council because I want our community members to be heard and have access to achievable housing, environmentally healthy transportation alternatives and renewable energy resources.

What is the most important issue facing Truckee?

I see three opportunities within the many significant issues that concern us as a community. I will advocate for achievable-housing opportunities, promote environmentally sound transportation alternatives and support conscientious adoption of renewable energy resources.

Morgan Goodwin

Morgan Goodwin was elected to the Truckee Town Council in 2014, serving once as vice mayor and once as mayor. He is the current chair of the Truckee Roundhouse makerspace and is an investor and future resident of the Truckee Cohousing Project. He also runs a small Burning Man camp and an annual Trail Magic event for Pacific Crest Trail hikers.

Why are you running for council?

Serving on council is the most rewarding work I've ever done. I'm running again because the things I believe in — greatly expanding local housing, a vibrant, walkable downtown for locals and visitors, 100 percent clean energy — are all in motion and we can make so much more progress with more positive, collaborative leadership.

What is the most important issue facing Truckee?

Local housing is by far the most important. Longtime residents are having to leave because they can't find homes, and our businesses are suffering because they can't hire good workers, even at good wages. I am calling for a goal of building or unlocking 1,000 new local, achievable units in the next five years.

Anna Klovsted

Anna Klovsted has served as the developer and manager for the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Sustainability Program for 10 years. She serves as an executive board member for the School Energy Coalition, which advocates on behalf of energy and water efficiency in California's K-14 schools. She volunteers annually at Truckee Clean Up Day, regularly at Truckee River Day and provides support to the Truckee River Watershed Council.

Why are you running for council?

For Truckee to remain the gem that it is we must plan a sustainable future. There is a path which will maintain the beauty of our hometown while keeping it vigorous and economically healthy. I am a sustainability specialist, a certified energy manager and a certified construction manager with 30 years' experience. I live in and love Truckee. I am passionate about helping guide the General Plan update over the next two years, because it will be critical to the future of business interests and ecological concerns alike. There is a path to balance Truckee's problems and promise, and my experience and commitment can help us build that future sustainably.

In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing Truckee?

Truckee may be a small town, but it is facing several complex issues. I feel the most important issue facing Truckee is the need to balance our divergent interests to achieve a Sustainable Future. We have to fight the urge to become polarized, pitting growth refusers and unrestricted development against each other. Truckee will not flourish unless we find a way for the entire community to realize we are in this together. So, the most important issue is not just to identify a problem, but to use facts and mutual respect to build — literally and figuratively — a better future for our town. My expertise is in bringing people of diverse views together. On Town Council, my experience with science and infrastructure coupled with compassionate leadership will be used to forge an economically viable and ecologically sound future for all of Truckee.

Richard Ludke

Richard Ludke currently works with the U.S. Forest Service and has volunteered for several years as a Big Brother of America, personal development mentor, at Truckee Clean Up and Truckee River Clean Up days, as well as helped with the local Food Bank and Rotary Club fundraising events.

Why are you running for council?

I am running for Town Council because I feel called to get involved in the decisions that are made for our Town, that will affect the lives of my neighbors, friends and family. I have no self-interest or political agenda, only to bring collaboration, respect for others, challenging thought, honesty, transparency and sound reasoning on all the issues we face in our community.

In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing Truckee?

I'd like to see us work with organized groups in the Region to bring on more local housing in the next 4 years, which includes low to moderate income levels. Truckee's beauty defines us as a culture, I support organizations that are committed to protecting our lakes, rivers and forests. I like to see continued good efforts towards creating adequate parking plans for all future developments.

David Polivy

David Polivy is the founder and owner of Tahoe Mountain Sports, a founding member of California Outdoor Recreation Partners, a founding member of Tahoe Backcountry Alliance and has been serving on the Truckee Planning Commission for the past two years, as Jessica Abrams' representative. He has served as the program manager at Sierra Business Council, on the Mountain Area Preservation Board, the North Tahoe Regional Advisory Council and the North Tahoe Business Association and currently serves on the Outdoor Industry Association Recreation Advisory Council.

Why are you running for council?

It's all about passion and wanting to make the world, and more specifically, our community, the best place it can be. I want to provide leadership and work together to create and implement solutions to what I believe are the most pressing issues our community faces. I love making a difference and being involved in the decision-making process. I have the experience that I believe qualifies me to take the lead and position me to be an effective Council member. I think Truckee can be one of the most innovative, diverse and successful mountain communities in the country and I want to be one of the leaders that gets us there!

In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing Truckee?

The most important issue facing Truckee is twofold: housing and rate/how we grow. I will work diligently to pursue housing solutions that work for a variety of income levels in our community. Everybody should be able to afford a decent place to live. I have advocated for housing projects while on the Planning Commission and will continue to do so. I will also work to implement many of the recommendations coming out of the Mountain Housing Council work.

As far as the rate and type of growth Truckee is experiencing, I will work to make sure it is sustainable, focused on our town and community centers and is based on smart and common sense principles. The General Plan update will be an excellent opportunity for the community to tell the decision makers how they want our Town to grow and I will take many of those recommendations to the process. I will also work to ensure that we develop building for tenants that we actually need. I believe we need to identify the most important uses our community wants and then work hard to get projects on the ground reflecting those desires.

Suzie Tarnay

Suzie Tarnay works as a substitute teacher at Truckee Elementary, Alder Creek Middle School and Sierra Expeditionary Learning School, regularly volunteering at Truckee Elementary. She has served on the board of directors for the Yosemite National Park Child Care Center and was employee as a conservation assistant for the Truckee River Watershed Council in 2014. In addition, she is active in Lake Tahoe's mountain bike and rock climbing communities.

Why are you running for council?

I love Truckee! Our town is filled with residents who are deeply invested in the mountain lifestyle, and that makes for a strong sense of community. I want to be a part of preserving the aspects of our town that make us proud to call it our home. I want to help seek improvements and solutions to issues that are challenges for Truckee right now. Additionally, I have found that I enjoy and have an affinity for the public service process. My civil engineering background and the fact that I am a naturally social individual fulfill two sides of the public service coin. I like to dig into the numbers, and I also enjoy talking to fellow community members and listening to their views. We, as a whole, are a highly educated and street-smart population. I know together we can take on the toughest challenges.

In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing Truckee?

Affordable housing is the most pressing issue Truckee faces today. We are losing our hardworking families to more affordable locations and broadening our carbon footprint in the process. Last November, I spoke at a Town Council meeting to point out the conundrum that our Inclusionary Housing Ordinance requires 15 percent of new housing to be "affordable," yet our in-lieu fee only requires a 3 percent monetary investment. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers when it comes to big-ticket items like housing construction. I hope to build upon the research conducted by the Mountain Housing Council and not only search for out-of-the-box solutions, but also put in the hard work and monetary investment that a problem of this nature requires.

Chelsea Walterscheid

Chelsea Walterscheid was raised in Truckee and has volunteered for multiple organizations in the area including leading and coordinating local events such as Truckee Day, the Old Timers' Picnic and Truckee Thursdays. She was an inaugural member of the Truckee Citizens Waste Management Advisory Committee and past trustee of the Truckee Cemetery District. She also sat on the Truckee-Donner Historical Society Board for 20 years and on the Church of the Mountains Preschool Board.

Why are you running for council?

I believe in public service and am a very proud resident of a town that people care deeply about. My extensive experience in the community brings a perspective of someone who knows multiple facets of our community, including "old" and "new" ideas. At the end of the day, I want to represent Truckee residents in the best way I can.

In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing Truckee?

Affordability. Truckee was once a blue-collar, working-class town that has evolved into a high-end resort area. Affordability is relevant to every member of our community and I look forward to addressing issues that will retain a small town quality of life that accommodates all of our residents for generations to come.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at hjones@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2652.