Sunset’s Sierra ain’t what it used to be |

Sunset’s Sierra ain’t what it used to be

My husband and I were long-time subscribers to Sunset magazine when we lived in the Bay Area and when we first moved up to Truckee. We then re-subscribed a few years ago. Sunset used to be targeted to the middle class, with ideas for saving money on projects, great food recipes, living well and playing well without spending a fortune, and for celebrating and enhancing the natural environment. Now our feeling is that Sunset’s target audience spends money in ways we do not value, and simply for ego gratification. Since when are $30 bottles of wine considered affordable? When did $289 hotel rooms become affordable?-

The final blow to our formerly affectionate feelings toward Sunset is the magazine’s new Sunset Idea house being built a mile down the street from us in Truckee. This house is supposed to be an example of sustainable and green development.

Obviously the Sunset staff did not check out the fact that the house is being built upon yet another golf course (which is a non-sustainable monoculture that only the privileged few can walk upon) in an area that was once treed open space until the Forest Service traded the land for worthless property.-

The East West Partners’ developments have only increased the pressure on skyrocketing housing prices in the local area and made enormous demands on local infrastructure. The lots that were first sold to East West’s own officers, employees, friends, etc. in staged “lotteries” are now being “flipped” and sold to out-of-towners. Very few locals can afford a half-million dollar lot (.25-.33 acre). As a result, we are seeing sprawling McMansions built out to the minimum setbacks apparently designed by out-of-town architects who have never seen a roof dump snow. I doubt these people are buying sufficient carbon credits to offset all of the century-old Ponderosas they cut down.-

Where we used to walk, ride our bikes, and cross-country ski is now posted with “no-trespassing” signs, even though the sweetheart deal with the town was to allow people to walk or ski the golf cart paths during non-golfing season/hours, and to connect downtown Truckee and the Prosser neighborhoods with foot-bike trails.

The worst problem of this entire development is these houses will not be used by full-time residents. Essentially all of the housing being built in the Martis Valley and Truckee is for second home owners. There are 10,000-square-foot houses now standing on former wildlife habitat. These houses are generally inhabited for less than three weeks each year. Locals do not relish the idea of living in ghost neighborhoods, even if they could afford to.

If people have this much money to squander on their rarely used vacation home, I am sure I as well as many others could think of better uses for all of those millions being wasted on pure ego gratification.

Sprawling golf course developments like East West Partners’ developments (Gray’s Crossing, Northstar, Old Greenwood) are ruining Truckee, the Sierra and other formerly wild places around the West. I had hoped Sunset would have set a better example for the location of an Idea house.

Janna Caughron is a Truckee resident.

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