A view of both sides of the gate | SierraSun.com

A view of both sides of the gate

Katie Shaffer

Recent discussion of gated communities brings up the question of exclusivity and whether this is what we want for Truckee.

Less than a year ago, I lived behind a gate. We moved out of that subdivision last summer. One of my former neighbors who liked the gate a lot, used to try single-handedly to enforce the no-trespassing mindset by asking those he did not recognize to please not ride their bikes or come for a run up our private road. I, on the other hand, not keen on the gate, used to tell friends and acquaintances to feel free to come past the gate and if they got hassled, to just say they were coming to my house. I don’t know if anyone ever took me up on this, but I definitely extended the offer feeling uncomfortable that the gate and its accompanying sign basically said, “Keep Out.”

A neighbor whose property adjoined ours also put up a “Keep Out” sign.- Perhaps she had one of her workers put it up. Nevertheless, it faced toward our property for a while. Sometimes you run into unfriendly energy in an area that has already erected a gate. I found it amusing that our resident bear consistently left muddy footprints going back and forth between her property and ours, right past the “Keep Out” sign, seeing as he couldn’t read and didn’t know that he wasn’t allowed to trespass.

My neighbor who liked the gate once pointed out to me that joggers or bike riders who ventured up our road would inevitably be followed by his dog back down into Glenshire, whereby he would wander at large for hours.

It wasn’t long before this happened to me as well when my yellow lab was still a puppy. He and our older dog took off one morning, bolting through our electric fence chasing after some deer. Within minutes, my older dog returned; after she was done scaring off the intruders, she would triumphantly trot back home. My younger dog however, had no experience with such a routine so instead he had taken off into the wilderness in the direction of Incline Village. Six hours later I was very grateful to get a call from someone saying that my dog was hanging out on Donnington Lane.- Apparently he had been there for hours and the caller was concerned that my young dog seemed unfamiliar with passing cars.

I guess I was glad that my dog had probably followed a jogger down into the subdivision below and was not lost in the wilderness instead.-

Truckee is not the only community facing the issues that gated communities present. In fact, I think there is a definite current trend which needs to be watched as more and more gates pop up, many of which block public access to previously hiked-upon terrain. A friend of mine who was checking out different neighborhoods in the Nevada City area last weekend, told me that she was disappointed that she couldn’t get into some nice-looking areas because they were blocked by a gate.

One purpose a gate serves is that it keeps out the “looky-loos.” That’s what I call people who like to drive by slowly checking out the neighborhood, like my friend who was in Nevada City last weekend. I remember one masked motorcycle rider who buzzed up our driveway one day when I lived on acreage behind a gate. I could hear him coming from several switchbacks below. I came out on the porch to see who it was and as soon as he caught sight of me, he abruptly turned around and sped back down our dusty gravel road. Motorcycles can get past a gate, but vehicles can’t unless they sit outside the gate waiting for someone to come in or out.

The only other “looky-loos” that we experienced when we lived behind the gate were a few helicopters that swung low past our house, which sat at the edge of a ridge top. We would wave and think how it was peculiar that at our previous house, cars would drive by slowly once in a while, but up there, we had curious helicopters checking out the property. I guess you can’t build a gate that keeps helicopters out.

Last summer we moved back to what my kids call a “normal” neighborhood. It’s their way of distinguishing between that “embarrassing” exclusive gate and the fact that we now live where their friends can easily swing by.

One town planner who currently serves on our planning commission actually lives within view of the gate that I used to live behind. I’m sure she can tell you how it feels to look out at that metal contraption, a barrier erected by her neighbors, to which she had no say regarding its installation at the end of the cul-de-sac on which she lives.

It gets tricky considering portions of Truckee are not situated within the town’s jurisdiction and are actually located in unincorporated Nevada or Placer county, but in my humble opinion, if the planners of this town want to make Truckee a pedestrian friendly community then gates should be discouraged, if not outright prohibited.

Katie Shaffer is a Sierra Sun columnist.