Man with the plan: After 15 years of service, Truckee’s town planner moving on | SierraSun.com

Man with the plan: After 15 years of service, Truckee’s town planner moving on

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Greyson Howard/Sierra SunTruckee Town Planner Duane Hall looks over plans Monday afternoon. After 15 years, Hall is stepping down and traveling the world.

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; For the last 15 years, Duane Hall has been the man behind many of the townand#8217;s most important plans.

In January, Hall, who steps down Jan. 15 as Truckeeand#8217;s town planner, will tackle a new plan and#8212; traveling North America and Europe.

Hall started in Truckee in 1994, when previous coworker and new Town Manager Tony Lashbrook hired him away from Mariposa, Calif., to tackle the tricky job of planning for a newly incorporated town. Truckee became a self-governing, or incorporated town, in 1993.

and#8220;He was the first person Iand#8217;d seen use advanced algebra to solve a planning problem,and#8221; Lashbrook said, laughing. and#8220;I said, and#8216;this is something special.and#8217;and#8221;

Hall found himself in a town trying to steer away from some of the policies of Nevada County, he said, caught between the countyand#8217;s old regulations and the townand#8217;s developing plans.

and#8220;I came knowing there would be interesting things to do from a planning perspective and#8212; helping the citizens out knowing one of the main reasons for incorporation was land use,and#8221; Hall said.

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His department quickly changed zoning and#8212; and ultimately the potential buildout of the town and#8212; taking the townand#8217;s growth potential down by 30 percent, which potentially reduced the townand#8217;s maximum population by more than 5,000.

And it wasnand#8217;t just the usual zoning and planning issues that fell into Halland#8217;s lap; he landed in town at a time when air quality was at its worst.

and#8220;You could see the pollution in the air. I was able to taking my planning skills and apply them to something I didnand#8217;t really know about, and get the community behind it,and#8221; Hall said. and#8220;Fifteen years later and you can look at our skies and#8212; even though weand#8217;ve grown, itand#8217;s gotten cleaner.and#8221;

When John McLaughlin came on four years ago as community development director, he said he turned to Halland#8217;s encyclopedic knowledge of the town to get him started.

and#8220;Duaneand#8217;s knowledge and history helped shape my approach,and#8221; McLaughlin said. and#8220;He had insights as to why we got to where we are and#8212; it was a big help.and#8221;

Looking back, Hall recalls tackling air quality, getting downtown designated on the State Historic Registry and the recent housing element as big accomplishments.

Looking forward, he sees water quality as a new target for the town.

and#8220;Weand#8217;ve worked on air quality, and worked with the Truckee Donner Land Trust to preserve open space … the next step is water,and#8221; Hall said.

Taking advantage of the Truckee River, through revitalizing West River Street and building the Truckee River Legacy Trail, is another exciting prospect for Truckeeand#8217;s future, he said.

and#8220;The town turned its back on the river for 130 years and#8212; we are trying to reverse 130 years of land use,and#8221; Hall said.

Hall wonand#8217;t be a part of those future plans for the town, however, as he prepares to travel for the next nine months or so.

and#8220;Iand#8217;ll be taking a break from public planning to do the stuff I should have been doing the last 20 years … what people do out of college, Iand#8217;m doing it 25 years later,and#8221; Hall said. and#8220;I thought it was a good time, without leaving the town in the lurch.and#8221;

He said first he plans a trip across the country and#8212; staying south where itand#8217;s warm.

Then itand#8217;s two or three months in Europe, living out of a backpack, Hall said.

After that, heand#8217;ll tackle the northern portion of the United States, Canada and maybe even Alaska.

and#8220;When Iand#8217;m done Iand#8217;d like to return to California. Iand#8217;m a public agency planner at heart, and Iand#8217;d like to return to the Sierra Nevada,and#8221; Hall said.

McLaughlin said finding a replacement for Hall is proving harder than he initially thought, but a contract temporary planner may be brought in while the search continues.

and#8220;Itand#8217;s a senior management position that requires a lot of skill and ability and specialized experience,and#8221; McLaughlin said. and#8220;Many people like that are in fairly secure jobs with families and homes, and arenand#8217;t necessarily easily mobile.and#8221;

Anyone interested in learning more about the position should contact McLaughlin at (530) 582-7700.