Keeping policing in the community
It’s been the topic of countless forums, meetings and articles, but the issue of affordable housing – or more accurately the lack thereof – in Truckee has been brought to the fore in real time at our police department.Chief Scott Berry is hosting an open house next week with the objective of recruiting officers. He needs to fill his ranks by at least five officers who left for various reasons – local cost of living being a huge issue.What Berry hopes to get out of the open house, however, is local interest. The chief figures that by finding a local and then putting that person through the academy, the investment will stay around town for a while.The Truckee Police Department subscribes to the Community Oriented Policing philosophy. While there are several elements to that approach, one aspect is that officers develop an intimate knowledge of the day-to-day workings of the community and become a familiar figure to community members. That is difficult when officers are commuting to Reno or Portola in order to purchase an affordable home.And if you think those places are the solution, try making those commutes for more than a year or two.According to Truckee’s new housing element, which guides long-term housing decisions, “more than 75 percent of Truckee’s local employment base in 2000 was in retail, service and government employment sectors.”Unfortunately, the professions that fall into those categories – such as new cops, new firefighters and new teachers – earn anywhere from $35,000 to $40,000 a year. Even added with a spouse’s salary in the same range, that is no longer enough to purchase in our community where the median price of a home is more than $500,000.According to the Truckee Affordable Housing Land Use Evaluation Study conducted by Bay Area Economics early last year, a four-member family with an income of $70,800 could afford a home for $234,692. Things just aren’t adding – or keeping – up here in the mountains.While some strides have been made to get affordable homes on the ground here in Truckee, like in Gray’s Crossing, they aren’t there yet. When they are built let’s make sure that those affordable homes go for vital members of our town, and keep community policing within the community.