Cats and Dogs; Junk Cars and Cleanup
Over the 10 years since incorporation, most folks think of town services as those related to big, visible issues like land use, police protection, road maintenance and snow removal. But significant strides have also been made in lots of ways that you may not always see, unless it affects you personally. Other town activities may have had a cumulative impact that you only think back on to say “I remember when it used to be worse.”
As Truckee has grown, so has our Animal Control Department. Personnel have been added to increase our preventive patrol presence throughout Town, and a few years ago we shifted to the “Maximum Enforcement Policy” related to dogs running at large to reduce the incidence of animals roaming in our neighborhoods. Truckee still has the “direct and effective control” rules and not a strict leash law.
In 1999 the Town built a modest animal shelter to relieve the burden that our operations were placing on local veterinary facilities. Now the Truckee Humane Society is working with us to plan for a “real” animal shelter for Truckee’s long term future.
The greatest single measure of success that can be attributed to our Animal Control Department and our partnership with the Humane Society is our close to 0 percent euthanasia rate
We work hard to educate people about spay and neuter programs and both employees and volunteers work doubly hard to find good homes for animals picked up and not redeemed.
Because we are a small organization, Animal Control officers also actively work to remove abandoned vehicles from the community. Started the first year that Truckee incorporated, the Town uses the $1 that you pay each year in your vehicle registration to fund vehicle removal efforts. Not counting the recent amnesty program, the town has removed 1,029 vehicles since 1993!
Just last September, we initiated a trial auto amnesty program town-wide, that allowed individuals to call us and have old vehicles removed at no cost. The program was a tremendous success and we have removed an additional 99 vehicles from that program alone. It is likely that next year we will promote this program again.
When the town incorporated, code enforcement (typically making sure that people comply with land use rules on private property like illegal signs, illegal storage, used car sales, etc.) was the part-time task of one town planner.
That soon became a half-time job and over the last several years has become a full-time position. Most often, people just don’t know the rules and our Code Enforcement Officer typically just makes contact with the individual and compliance is achieved.
On occasion we have to take stronger enforcement action like citations or even court appearances to keep Truckee clean. Each year, hundreds of code compliance problems are resolved by this one individual. It keeps Truckee cleaner, minimizing that trashy appearance.
Last summer, a special cleanup program was initiated with property owners along the Truckee River and over a single weekend, using a lot of volunteer help, over 800 tons of trash and debris were removed from properties along West, East and South River Streets. A tremendous success!
Overall, since incorporation, the Town has expanded/improved both our Animal Control and Code Enforcement efforts for the citizens’ benefit. There are lots fewer dogs at large, abandoned vehicles in yards and illegal signs and uses all over Town because of those efforts. Like I said – sometimes it is the things that you don’t see that can make you feel good about your Town.
Stephen L. Wright is Truckee’s Town manager. His column appears regularly in the Sierra Sun.