Truckee grapples with urban flight influx
Special to the Sierra Sun
Change is coming to Truckee, and community leaders are trying to make sure the town is ready.
More people moved into Truckee over the last year than in the last decade, according to the United States Postal Service’s change of address data.
“There’s a big conversation happening in Nevada County about how are we going to meet the needs of our new full-time residents, our existing full-time residents and our visitors, because the engine of our economy is that visitor basis,” said District 5 Supervisor Hardy Bullock.
Since 2010, Truckee’s population increased by 545, totaling 16,735 in 2019, according to the US Census Bureau. In 2020 the town surpassed that total between April and July alone, adding nearly 1,000 residents through the entire year.
“Basically, the COVID pandemic has created this urban flight scenario where people are moving out of the cities to get a higher kind of lifestyle, at a higher level and higher quality of life,” Bullock said.
While Truckee is a welcoming community, Bullock said, the influx of new residents comes with logistical issues that need to be addressed by the whole town.
“It puts more needs on our infrastructure and traffic services,” said Truckee Town Manager Jennifer Callaway. “From a traffic perspective and just town services in general — litter removal, trash removal, police services — it definitely does have an impact.”
Callaway, a recent transplant herself, advised incoming residents to prepare themselves for the spirit of adventure and conservation that comes with such living in the town.
“In this community we cherish our environment,“ she said. ”We really want to be good stewards of the land and hope that our visitors and guests feel the same way.“
In order to get new residents up to speed, the Truckee Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the town to hold Zoom focus groups bringing them together with “local connectors” who can show them the Truckee Way.
“We want to help new residents understand and embrace the unique mountain culture, help people discover the roots of their community,“ said Lynn Saunders, president and CEO of the Truckee Chamber of Commerce. ”Truckee has come so far in the past 20 to 30 years, and learning more about that really is fascinating and connects you to your community.“
According to Bullock, the town is also taking a wider, long-term approach to educating potential new residents.
Bullock said starting at the end of this month he will convene quarterly meetings with local officials, environmental, public safety, and public service organizations to talk about the state of Truckee.
“Get us in a room so that we can talk about what we’re going to do to meet the needs of our visitors, meet the needs of our local economy, create a framework for conversation, a framework for communication, and then also really trying to unify our messaging as a region,” Bullock said.
He said he’s concerned without proper and inclusive planning, traffic, crime, parking issues and environmental degradation could threaten the feel of the town and its entire future.
“We do need to be aware that we need to apply a conservation mentality to every decision we make,” he said.
“We really want to make sure the message that we’re sending is welcoming but that acknowledges there’s a high level of responsibility required to participate in our community, because it’s a beautiful, special place.”
People interested in participating in one of the Truckee Chamber’s virtual New Residents Focus Groups can contact Lynn@Truckee.com.
John Orona is a staff writer for The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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