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Too many people, too few services

Dan Foscalina

Still about two months away, the vote for the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation’s general plan amendment is dividing the town like few other issues in recent memory have.

On July 31, the day the “initiative” issue of the Sierra Sun hit the newsstands, we were already getting letters supporting or opposing the land-use designations at Planned Community 2.

Some people say the initiative process merely lets the people take an active role in local government, that it lets town residents decide what is best for Truckee.

Others say the initiative process stops the dialogue created between the public and councilmembers during town council and planning commission hearings.

Some say the initiative will maintain the small town character of Truckee and preserve pristine wilderness areas.

Others say initiatives are the tool of special interest groups who are only in the political realm to promote their own hidden agendas.

Some say the initiative will block a Walmart, K-Mart, Home Depot or the like from setting up operations in Truckee.

Others say it won’t.

This is my take: the population in Truckee is growing in terms of permanent residents and second homeowners, and will continue into the future. The initiative scales back the amount of commercial space that will be developed on the 789-acre parcel north of the Interstate 80-Highway 89 junction, but it still gives the green light for 600 new homes to be built.

Coupled with almost 3,000 homes yet to be built in Tahoe Donner, that is quite a few new bodies that will be roaming the streets of Truckee within the next 20 years. And without the accompanying commercial space to support the residential development, the town will be overrun. You think Gateway and Crossroads are congested now, just wait.

Initiative supporters say they aren’t against growth, they just want well-planned growth. So their answer to the commercial space issue is just let developers build their stores on infill areas like PC-3 by the airport or PC-1 by the Teichert property or the Old Mill site.

Currently, the Union Pacific Railroad and town officials are at odds over development, specifically what kind, at the Old Mill site.

And I assume some residents in Sierra Meadows or near Donner Lake aren’t going to want commercial development in their neighborhoods, so what then? Just circulate another initiative to amend the general plan? At this rate, there won’t be much of a general plan left.

I don’t think it is a crime for Truckee residents to control their own destiny and vote on issues that will affect their everyday lives. I do, however, think they were already afforded that opportunity during past elections, be it during the incorporation election or the two subsequent elections to fill town council seats. They put their trust in five people to make informed decisions about the town’s future. And one of their accomplishments – with the help of staff, planning commissioners and the public – was the general plan.

Town officials live here too and they don’t want to see Truckee lose its small town atmosphere. I don’t think anybody does. But the fact of the matter is the town is growing and there has to be commercial growth as well as residential or there will be too many people and too few services.

Dan Foscalina is the Sierra Sun’s news editor.


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