Gray’s Crossing proposal needs review
The Truckee Town Council’s vote next week on the Gray’s Crossing development is one of the most important decisions the council will ever make in determining the future character of Truckee.
The plan that East West Partners has proposed for Gray’s Crossing does not meet the needs of our community. Many parts of the plan meet the bare legal minimums; however, some of the plan’s most significant elements are not in the best interest of Truckee and need to be altered.
Truckee wants more open space – not more golf courses. In the most recent public survey by the town, sent to every resident as part of the General Plan update process, 75 percent ranked “Acquiring and Protecting Open Space” as the single issue most important to Truckee’s future growth. And during community workshops, prohibiting future golf courses was one of the four issues ranked as the highest priority by participants.
The public is upset about new golf courses for reasons that go beyond the obvious environmental disruption that a golf course creates:
— There are already at least six existing courses within 10 miles of Truckee and another five being planned.
— Golf appeals to many fewer residents and visitors than hiking, biking, running and similar outdoor pursuits.
— Truckee’s General Plan does not require a golf course at Gray’s Crossing. Golf is allowed only if it is the best way to serve the interests of Truckee and its residents.
— The public would be excluded from playing at the Gray’s Crossing course.
Truckee wants more workforce housing – not pricier second homes. In the General Plan update survey, the No. 1 priority issue for future development in Truckee was “Affordable Housing.” Almost 60 percent of respondents ranked “Affordability to the Local Workforce” as the most important housing issue facing our community. And the town’s outside consultant has recently concluded that Truckee’s affordable housing supply is in critical condition.
While the Gray’s Crossing plan sets aside a limited amount of housing for low- and middle-income residents, the plan should be greatly expanded. If Truckee cannot provide affordable housing for its workforce – its teachers, nurses, shop clerks, construction workers – then the town will no longer be a diverse community with people from all walks of life.
Without smarter planning right now, Truckee will very soon become nothing more than an exclusive enclave for the rich and their second homes. And, along with many of its current residents, the unique character of our community will be lost forever.
Truckee wants more protection for wildlife – not more destruction of habitat.
In the town survey, more than 80 percent of respondents ranked “Protecting and Restoring Truckee’s Environmental Resources/Habitat” as the single issue most important to Truckee’s future in general. The golf course at Gray’s Crossing will irrevocably destroy more than 114 acres of wildlife habitat and replace it with a chemically dependent, monoculture landscape. The course will not only be hostile to local wildlife, it will also affect water quality and be a further drain on local water resources.
Despite these obvious issues, East West claimed in a recent submission to the town that “Gray’s Crossing will provide a benefit to resident wildlife.” It is hard to imagine what this “benefit” will be – reserved tee times?
Truckee wants the town council to fix the Gray’s Crossing plan so that valuable development can proceed.
We believe East West can create a development that is right for Truckee by making these simple changes:
— Eliminate the golf course and grant residents shared access to the nearby Old Greenwood course instead.
— Cluster housing more densely to protect open space and create a neighborhood feel and pedestrian setting.
– Create more guaranteed affordable units to meet the currently unmet critical need for local workforce housing.
In response to these reasonable, innovative ideas, East West has claimed, without any proof, that it is “financially infeasible” to build the development without the golf course. This claim is baseless – there are many examples nationwide of successful, profitable recreation communities built around open space instead of golf. What’s worse, the claim seems like a real cop-out coming from a company that derives so much profit from our community. East West not only can, but should, be required to do better for Truckee.
Truckee wants a town council that is more accountable to local residents – not to outside private interests and non-residents.
Truckee wants more control over its destiny – not more control by people and companies that don’t live and work here every day. This will require smart, bold planning by progressive, accountable local officials. People who believe Truckee can be successful and prosperous without creating an unreal, Aspen-like atmosphere.
It will also require that the town government look more to the future than the past. Design and planning standards continue to evolve rapidly. The town council should not remain tethered to vague, outdated policies. Especially in light of such clear public outcry for a smarter approach to growth.
The residents of Truckee have stated loudly and clearly that they want something better than the current plan for Gray’s Crossing. A world-class community like Truckee deserves world-class planning. And if we continue to develop all of the open space we have, we will destroy the very thing that most people come here to see and enjoy.
Everyone in Truckee is affected by this major decision and should urge the town council to require the changes outlined above. Please take a few minutes to contact the council through the town clerk at email@example.com or call 582-7700 ext. 3107, or attend the Dec. 16 town council meeting to let them know of your concern about this momentous issue.
Gray’s Crossing can be a development our whole community is proud of – if only our town officials will listen to the public they serve.
Column submitted by the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation.
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