Truckee Town Council discusses transportation public opinion survey results

TRUCKEE, Calif. – During the Tuesday, Oct. 10 Truckee Town Council, councilmembers discussed survey results and the feasibility of renewing the transportation tax.

During the public comment section, Ben Levine from Tahoe Donner’s board of members highlighted the pressing issue of a shortage of available and affordable workforce housing, which has been a major concern for the community. Tahoe Donner has been actively working on an Employee Housing Action Plan to address this issue.

Deirdre Henderson, founder of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, shared positive news regarding the reintroduction of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 5744) into the House of Representatives on Sept. 27. This act, sponsored by Scott Peters of California, is anticipated to receive increased support during this session.

Henderson also noted that Representative Kevin Kiley has joined the House Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan platform for discussions on climate policies. The caucus, which already boasts 64 members, meets regularly and focuses on initiatives like clean energy and permitting reform, with a national objective of achieving a 30% reduction in emissions by 2030.

In other news, Zanders Liquor Store is set to reopen in the West Truckee Center and is scheduled to commence operations in November.

The cherished Truckee River, along with its forest, meadows, and wetlands, prompted the declaration of Oct. 15 as the 28th annual Truckee River Day, aimed at ensuring its continued protection and well-being. 

October was declared National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Oct. 13 is Metastatic Awareness Day, and Oct. 20 is National Mammography Day. Remember to get mammograms and health screenings. 85% of breast cancer cases occur in individuals with no family history, affecting 1 in 8 women. Early detection is crucial. The Pink Patch Project is raising funds for the Tahoe Forest Cancer Center through patch sales.

The National Hispanic Heritage Month proclamation was read. National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, 2023 in Truckee and across the nation and recognizes the diverse cultures, histories, and traditions of people with roots in Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America. This observance, which began as a week in 1968 and expanded to a month in 1988, pays tribute to nations that share this heritage. Sept. 15 holds particular significance, marking the independence anniversaries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, while Mexico and Chile celebrate on Sept. 16 and 18, respectively. In Truckee, the Hispanic population accounts for 13%, playing a vital role in the community.

The Promotoras initiative at Sierra Community House in Kings Beach, California, led by Latina women from Truckee and Kings Beach, provides essential peer education on chronic disease and mental health. They serve as critical links connecting community members with healthcare services, significantly reducing the impact of COVID-19 within the local LatinX community. During a special moment, Sierra Community House’s Community Engagement Manager, Felicity Beallo, read the proclamation aloud in Spanish, highlighting its importance.

Council members and members of Sierra Community House and LatinX community (including the Promotoras) stand together for a photo celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Zoe Meyer / Sierra Sun

Tahoe Truckee Media, dedicated to free speech and amplifying underrepresented voices, presented at the meeting. They plan to expand to Apple TV and Roku, a significant step in broadening their audience. As an Alliance for Community Media member, they’re part of a network comprising 1600 PEG media centers. This nonprofit plays a crucial role, especially in areas nearing a “news desert” due to declining journalism. Supporting the Community Television Act and Tahoe Truckee Media can help address this challenge. Free Speech Week begins on Oct. 16, providing a timely opportunity to reflect on this essential right.

The Town Manager announced that this Friday, Oct. 13, Sierra Community House will be organizing a complimentary open-swim event for the community. 

During the discussion section, council decided to pull an agenda item that would clean-up language in the Short-Term Rental Ordinance in order to give staff more time to put together a presentation. The recommended action involved introducing Ordinance 2023-12, which would amend Chapter 5.02 (Transient Rental of Residential Units) of the Truckee Municipal Code. Although this item was pulled from the agenda, it remained open for public comment.

Coleman Bowen, who owns multiple properties and has 40 long-term tenants, expressed his concerns. He emphasized the importance of the recreation industry to Truckee’s economy and highlighted that recreational vehicles and motorhomes are not a solution to the workforce housing problem.

He added that Truckee’s culture is centered around recreation and tourism, and removing RVs and campers would eliminate one of the most affordable ways for people to visit. He raised the question of how to handle visitors if rental RVs were made illegal in Truckee.

Counci then discussed Truckee Home Access Program local business application and guideline revisions. The changes involved broadening the definition of ‘Owner’ to include individuals, local businesses, or developers acquiring an ownership interest in a property, with refined criteria for a ‘Qualified Owner.’

THAP introduced a new guideline allowing local businesses, family trusts, or entities with common ownership to apply for the program. Amendments in Tenant Eligibility and Renting requirements were also made.

Additionally, staff suggested allowing owners to sell to any THAP-qualified buyer or a qualified local business, expanding eligible purchasers. A modification to the definition of ‘Seller’ specifies it applies to the owner of a non-THAP housing unit deed restricting the unit through THAP at the time of sale.

The first local business application under THAP has been received from William Greeno of Quality Automotive Servicing. The intended business unit is a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home in Glenshire, with plans to rent to three tenants.

The purchase price is $660,000, with an ongoing appraisal. The THAP payment is set at $105,600. The applicant has secured financing and is under contract. Staff recommended council approval of the application, with a payment not to exceed $105,600.

The motion received unanimous approval from the council, although there was a bit of discussion regarding potential confusion surrounding the term “local business vs. business owner.” 

Finally, the council discussion the Transportation Public Opinion Survey results.

The survey aimed to assess public sentiment regarding transportation sales tax, specifically in relation to Measure V as a baseline revenue. It sought to determine the feasibility of renewing Truckee’s Measure V, align it with community priorities, and gather vital information for communication and outreach efforts. The sample for the survey was carefully selected to represent the demographics of Truckee, ensuring the results are predictive of potential election outcomes.

Measure V, initially passed in 1998 as Measure A with 72% approval, was reauthorized at ½ % in 2008 with approximately 84% approval. It currently generates around $3.4 million in today’s economy, eligible for both capital and operations and maintenance. This measure is set to expire in 2028 and funds various projects including annual paving and drainage, bridge maintenance, and class 2 bike lanes.

Survey results indicated that 46.3% of the population rated Truckee’s quality of life as “Good,” 35.9% as “Excellent,” 14.2% as “Fair,” and only a small percentage considered it poor or very poor. The survey identified three major changes desired by respondents: 22.9% sought a reduction in traffic congestion, 20.8% advocated for more affordable workforce housing, and 10.9% believed growth and development should be limited.

A ballot test survey asked if the existing ½% transportation sales tax should be renewed at a rate of 1%, providing approximately $7 million annually until voted otherwise, with funds staying local and independent oversight. The results were as follows: 29.9% said “Probably yes,” 29.8% said “Definitely yes,” 17.9% said “Definitely no,” 12.6% said “Probably no,” 9.4% were “Unsure,” and 0.4% chose not to answer.

The main question discussed was whether the renewal of Measure V should be pursued for March 2024. Additionally, ongoing deliberations were held regarding TART connect pilot funding beyond the fiscal year 2023/24. Ultimately, the council reached a consensus that pushing Measure V forward for the March 2024 ballot was too ambitious.

The next Town Council meeting will be on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 5 p.m.

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