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Truckee downtown office ban extended

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

New offices will not be welcome on Truckee’s Commercial Row for at least 10 more months.

Truckee Town Council voted Thursday to extend the downtown urgency ordinance by 10 months and 15 days, bringing the prohibition period on new non-retail, non-bar, and non-restaurant use to a total of one year. The ordinance ” and a possible permanent ordinance ” come in response to concerns that office use on Commercial Row endangers the vitality of the downtown area.

Jenna Endres, town associate planner, said the extension gives town staff time to draft implementation options for the planning commission and town council to consider. Staff does not anticipate needing the entire time period, she said.

“I think we could wrap everything up by March,” Endres said. “That would be a best-case scenario.”

During the two stakeholders meetings, Endres said interested parties seemed to favor an outright ban on office-use in Commercial Row ground floor spaces, instead of the other options being considered.

“They seemed to support the outright prohibition because they want a straight-forward, simple process,” Endres said.

Stefanie Olivieri, president of the Downtown Merchants Association, said the association had not yet reached a consensus on which type of ordinance it prefers, but said that many of the people she has spoken to were in favor of the outright ban.

The other options for a more permanent ordinance include using conditional use permits ” allowing new businesses to be considered on a case-by-case basis, and an appeal process ” in which a property owner unable to rent to a non-office use could approach the town from a “hardship” standpoint, Endres said.

She said that staff plans to recommend the outright ban due to public support, and would not recommend the appeal process or conditional use permit process because they would require more town resources.

Another discussion point at the stakeholders meetings was expanding the affected area beyond Commercial Row.

“The expanded area will be something we let council know about,” Endres said. “But there are not the same pedestrian amenities in the rest of downtown as Commercial Row, and that needs to be in place for this to break out.”

Endres said that the “non-retail, non-bar, non-restaurant” language in the current ordinance would be scrutinized for the permanent code.

“There is a potential discussion of personal services,” Endres said. “We haven’t decided on a recommendation there ” we need to flesh that out more.”

Personal services include barber shops, beauty salons, and spas, among other things, Endres said.

Olivieri said personal services should be prohibited along with offices from the ground floor, but make sense as second-floor businesses.

Endres said no public meetings are scheduled for the ordinance until it goes before the planning commission, but that doesn’t mean staff isn’t looking for public input. Questions or comments can be directed to Endres at 582-7700.


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