The distance between “down the hill” and the eastern portions of Nevada and Placer counties is again proving to be great.On Tuesday, the Placer County Board of Supervisors heard appeals by the Town of Truckee and a coalition of environmental groups over Siller Ranch, the largest gated community slated for the Martis Valley. Truckee’s appeal wasn’t about the fate of the project itself – Placer supervisors have already approved it – it is over the issue of employee housing.The town and area affordable housing advocates want to see housing in the Siller Ranch project that would accommodate about 275 employees. Placer County planners – at the behest of the developer – argue that housing for less than half that – 124 workers – is needed.And that’s what has us worried. Throughout the decision-making process for the Siller Ranch and Eaglewood subdivisions, which as approved will bring well more than 1,000 homes and 45 holes of golf to the edge of Truckee, the four Placer supervisors from “down the hill” have essentially rubber-stamped the plans without much questioning – at least publicly – of their planners or the developers. Input from residents of the eastern part of Placer County and people who live in the immediate area of Truckee was by-and-large taken with a disinterested nod and a “weknow-better” attitude by Placer planners and supervisors.Placer County’s negligence in scrutinizing important issues like affordable housing, biological resources and community impacts to the satisfaction of its neighbors and own residents has set the county up for a controversy that will be settled in court rather than the normal decision-making process.The development of the Martis Valley area is being approved by a five-person board of supervisors, four of whom voted in favor of Siller Ranch yet don’t live anywhere near the eastern end of their county. And even though this highly questionable development is happening in Placer, the fallout – like providing housing for a portion of the 555 full-time jobs being projected for Siller Ranch – will undoubtedly fall into Truckee’s lap.As Truckee incorporated in 1993 to wrest control of its fate from the “powers that be” down the hill on the west slope, it’s time for Placer County to at least establish a permanent eastern county advisory committee. While there is a Martis Valley Community Plan Citizens Committee, most of the “citizens” are from public agencies and development interests. A broader member base on such a committee would result in a better vision for the area than one generated from way down the hill.
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