Merchants want to stop first-floor offices |

Merchants want to stop first-floor offices

The Truckee Downtown Merchants Association has asked Truckee Town Council to limit ground floor office use on Commercial Row.

The council will consider an emergency ordinance to halt the lease of downtown’s ground floor space to offices. The ordinance would initially last 45 days and could be extended for up to two years. Offices would still be an acceptable use in second floor spaces and higher.

“What the merchants are asking for is that the status quo is maintained,” said Stefanie Olivieri, president of the merchants association.

“Offices on the ground floor can erode the commercial viability of downtown ” that’s why malls never have offices, just retail businesses,” Olivieri said.

In addition to lessening the interest of potential shoppers, offices do not add to the sales tax base in town, she said.

The temporary ordinance would give the town and the Downtown Merchants Association time to consider the issues, get public input, and possibly create a permanent ordinance to deal with office use in the downtown area, Olivieri said.

She said the downtown merchants association would study other similar ordinances from other towns.

Nevada City’s council recently enacted a similar ordinance for its historic downtown.

The Nevada City ordinance requires any proposed office in the downtown area to apply for a special use permit, allowing city council to review each individually, said Mark Miller, Nevada City manager.

“It was felt that we needed to retain a critical mass of retail to keep business up,” Miller said. “It’s not a cure-all. It just prevents loss of too much retail.”

Truckee’s downtown merchants association asked for a special meeting before the next scheduled Truckee Town Council meeting because of possible upcoming turnover of leased spaces in downtown, Olivieri said.

“Bob Roberts Jewelers and Ollie’s Gas Station are up,” she said, “and the Cat Walk could be knocked out with Bob Roberts to make the whole building an office.”

A special meeting has been scheduled to address the issue on Thursday at 6 p.m., said Tony Lashbrook, Truckee town manager.

“The council has the ability, based on findings, with a four-out-of-five vote to enact a temporary time-out on a land use,” Lashbrook said.

Olivieri said the downtown merchants association is interested in getting input from all affected groups.

“We are very anxious to pull together all the stake-holders and make some sort of solution,” she said.

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