Measure M fails in close vote; Land-use issue loses 52% to 48%
Truckee voters narrowly defeated Measure M, the proposal to amend Truckee’s General Plan, by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin.
Preliminary results from Tuesday’s election showed Measure M losing 2,048 “No” votes to 1,879 “Yes” votes. Measure M’s passage would have modified the development potential within Planned Community 2, a 789-acre parcel on both sides of Highway 89 north of Interstate 80, by eliminating the potential for a resort hotel, golf course and recreation facilities. In addition, the initiative would have limited the amount of commercial retail space from 175,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet.
Although Mountain Area Preservation Foundation members disagreed with the voters’ decision to proceed with the land-use proposals on PC-2’s 789 acres, the group’s president, Stephanie Olivieri, said the group is not going away.
“We said all along that we would be here win or lose,” she said.
“Despite being outspent by a huge margin, despite that the true issues were muddied by the other side and despite the biased press coverage by the Sierra Sun, we see the results as very impressive.
“Forty-eight percent of the people who voted agree with our (MAPF) vision for the town’s future growth,” Olivieri said. “They support the concept of infill development, and they understand the insidious nature of sprawl and how it erodes our quality of life.”
Challenge to work within the process
Ron Hemig, president of Community Alliance for a Responsible Economy and Environment for Truckee, said he challenges MAPF members who believe strongly enough about the initiative to work within the traditional processes. He pointed out that three council seats will be up for election next year and that is an opportunity to change the planning process for supporters of the initiative.
“We need to channel the destructive nature of this election into a constructive community process,” he said. “We need to amend the polarization that has happened in our community and work together on this project.”
Hemig said CARE’s position was not for sprawl, but for the democratic process.
“This is going to be a well-tested and deliberated project for PC-2,” he said. “We will all be there as watchdogs to make sure this is something the community needs and wants. I’m willing to take the challenge.”
CARE’s Bob Tamietti said the biggest challenge he sees is to repair the damage left behind by the emotional battle between the two sides.
“I’m just melancholy today,” he said. “It’s hard to be happy when you’re sitting around looking at the disaster. Some good will come out of this, people will pay more attention to this. But I think the price we had to pay was too steep.
“We need to bury the hatchet and figure out what we are going to do. The people who stepped up and fought for what they thought was right for the community now need to repair this divided town.”
MAPF’s Steve Frisch said, “This election showed issues of representation within the community.”
“If I was a town councilman, I would be thinking about the (nearly) 2,000 voters that came out to support Measure M.”
Olivieri added, “We believe one of the results of the initiative will be some major changes in the makeup of the town council in the near future to reflect a balance of interests.”
She said the vote indicates that the town council does not reflect a balanced representation of the community’s interests.
Mayor Bob Drake said he was pleased with the turnout, particularly for a special election.
“I believe intelligent and thoughtful arguments for each side were presented in a balanced manner by the Sierra Sun,” he said. “It’s time to move forward with the recognized planning process. With any projects there will be public notices, hearings and compromises in the coming months and years.”
Dale Creighton, the engineer for the Hopkins Family Trust, said this election showed the evolution of the town and its commitment to sticking with the general plan.
“This vote showed mature decision making,” he said. “We are glad the voters took time to inform themselves about the issues. This proved that no one’s going to ‘hoodwink’ the town into making any decisions without knowing the facts.”
Creighton also said the Hopkins Family wants what is best for the community.
“We are going to continue working toward an understanding of what Truckee needs on the Hopkins’ property,” he said.
In a press release, MAPF and the Truckee Mountain Area Protection Campaign Committee said, “Truckee’s greatest asset has always been its sense of community. We are confident that the divisiveness that has accompanied this issue will rapidly diminish in our community. We look forward to working in unison with many of our former opponents on issues of community importance.
Town Manager Steve Wright said the ball is in the developer’s court.
“Because the measure didn’t pass there’s no change on the general plan,” he said. “The town council might decide to consider proposing changes.”
Wright said the town staff will present a a list of options to the town council at tonight’s meeting.
“The options range from doing nothing to convening a group of opponents and proponents to stimulate dialogue on what might be suitable compromises,” he said. “We’ll have at least a half-dozen recommendations for the council to consider.
“They might decide to take extra steps to heal the divisiveness.”
The TMAPCC and MAPF wrote in a press release they hope that their campaign has served to inform and educate the public.
Drake said, “Recognizing the nearly 50-50 split, I truly hope we can all work together for the future of Truckee.”
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