Planning to get involved
January 17, 2006
Thursday evening the Truckee Town Council will discuss metered parking in downtown – again.For the folks in town who think the parking plan is a bad idea and who may have not made it to any parking committee or to town council meetings in 2005 before the plan was approved, here’s your chance to get involved – again.Granted, it’s probably a day late and a dollar short to boot metered parking out of Truckee for good. But Thursday’s meeting is a chance to make some tweaks to the plan, like putting your two-cents worth in about free employee parking and a paid-parking discount plan. And if you’re really hot about the issue, heck, there’s even a chance for you to get involved by becoming a member of the town’s formal Parking Commission.•••Speaking of getting involved, the My Turn column on this page by Nikki Riley taking us to task for our editorial in Friday’s Sierra Sun is a well-written example of a person taking the idea of “getting involved” to the highest levels.In our editorial, we voiced our concern that in some cases the planning commission gets bogged down in the details of a proposal – the color of a national franchise’s sign, for example – therefore, taking the process, people, applicants and assorted other interested parties in attendance to the excruciating edge. That, when town planning staff, all with years of training and experience, have written up their recommendations with town policies in mind.Of course, it is a commissioner’s prerogative to voice his or her interpretation of a policy. But when hours of discussion land a decision-making body right back at the beginning, who and what has been served?Riley says that we question the value of the planning commission. On the contrary, we believe the people who do the work of a full-time job for essentially nothing are doing more for this community than most of us ever will.A pedantic approach, however, on certain aspects of a project doesn’t engender the process with a whole lot of goodwill or trust. If I as a project applicant have worked with town staff to get my porch lights to conform to policies in the development code, and have met with neighbors concerned about my project – to the point where no one opposes the project – and then I am hammered for hours on end about a detail and not the plan itself, what is the point?Yes, good planning is something we all want. And caring volunteer commissioners are vital in achieving that end. We also don’t want commissioners to rubber stamp staff recommendations, a la Placer County and the Martis Valley Community Plan.As Riley says, “Quite simply, after you scratch the surface it is not that easy.” We agree. But does it have to be excruciating? Jamie Bate is the editor of the Sierra Sun. Reach him at email@example.com.