Open space in Truckee: Who will take the lead?
January 15, 2007
Truckee residents in favor of saving open space may need to step up and create a conservation effort to preserve the towns remaining undeveloped places. A Truckee committee comprised of council members, staff, and other stakeholders set out three years ago to assess public desire for open space preservation. Now that the survey has been completed and the committee dissolved, its up to the public to take what was learned and create a plan of action. The survey asked what types of open space the community values and how much they are willing to pay, said Mayor Richard Anderson.According to the 2004 survey conducted by True North Research and Shilts Consultants, the majority of voters and property owners consider protecting open space, water quality, and park and recreation areas a very important issue.The survey lists land around the Truckee River as the most important to protect as open space, with 96 percent of those surveyed in favor.Two options to pay for open space protection were also proposed in the survey a sales tax and a parcel charge.Both options received positive feedback, and of the voters surveyed, 73 percent favored the sales tax while 67 percent of those surveyed favored the parcel charge. The sense we got was that people were willing to pay to preserve open space at that point in time, said Anderson. The report is now a couple of years old, and mindsets may have changed, but it was certainly a heart-warming conclusion.Because the town cannot spend taxpayer money to promote a ballot measure, the committee was disbanded after studying the conclusions of the survey, Anderson said.This means community members will have to take the next step in creating a ballot measure, Anderson said.Perry Norris, executive director of the Truckee Donner Land Trust, said the land trust is not a political organization and wouldnt be directly involved in creating an open space ballot measure either.Steve Frisch, vice president of programming for the Sierra Business Council, said getting an open space measure on the ballot shouldnt be too difficult.A group of interested citizens could write up the measure, which could either be put on the ballot by the town, or qualified for the ballot by signatures on a petition, Frisch said.The preservation of open space is one of the most important things Sierra Nevada communities can do, Frisch said. Its very important for citizens to pick up the effort.