Truckee’s town attorney announces retirement
Sitting in his office, reflecting on 13 years as Truckee town attorney, Dennis Crab speaks with unabashed pride Monday.
But it isn’t for any one court case or conflict he took part in ” the energy he exudes even now that he’s announced his retirement is for Truckee itself.
“The things that stand out all revolve around Truckee as a community,” Crabb said. “As with any legal career, litigation and conflicts tend to blur together over time, so what I really remember is the ‘Truckee way.'”
Crabb, who came on as the town attorney in 1995, two years after Truckee’s incorporation, said an early dispute between environmentalists and development that turned bitter really established the need for what would become what he terms the “Truckee way.”
The sides eventually settled the dispute ” a disagreement over how much development should be allowed at what is now Gray’s Crossing ” by taking the issue to the ballot in 1997’s Measure M.
“It was very disruptive to the town ” tires were being slashed, kids were being called names at school ” it was very inconsistent with Truckee,” Crabb said. “That’s when we really evolved our dispute resolution.”
Kathleen Eagan, the first mayor of Truckee, said the “Truckee way” is an approach that looks at the issues, not the personalities, and the facts instead of emotions, to come up with the best resolution for everybody.
“Frequently in the legal field conflicts are approached in an adversarial way, Dennis was that rare bird that didn’t start adversarially,” Eagan said. “It was very admirable, and extraordinary at the time.”
Crabb said he took that conflict resolution to heart, applying it to other disputes, including the Martis Valley land use conflict.
As an attorney for a number of towns, counties, and nonprofit groups, Crabb said he was characterized as both the city attorney for the Sierra, and “a demented Johnny Appleseed spreading the ‘Truckee way,'” preaching Truckee’s brand of conflict resolution to other municipalities.
“You could count the number of major litigations Truckee has had on one hand and have a finger left over,” Crabb said. “It’s different here than where Loomis and Rocklin have been suing each other for the last 20 years.”
Starting as the deputy city attorney in Monterey in 1974, Crabb moved up the Sierra Nevada to take a job as the South Lake Tahoe City attorney in 1978.
When he started a private practice in 1995, Truckee was his first client, he said.
“I’ve been really blessed ” I’ve had work I overwhelmingly enjoy professionally, intellectually, and personally,” Crabb said. “I’ve met presidents, movie stars, and heads of state all because of Tahoe and the profile it has.”
With a retirement date loosely set for next May, Crabb said he and his wife have a year-long itinerary for world travel.
And after that, Crabb said he has a change of pace in mind.
“You’ll probably either see me as a concierge at a five-star hotel in Reno, or managing the gun library at Cabela’s,” Crabb said.