Town should support Gray’s Crossing development
An important test will be in front of the Truckee Town Council on Dec. 16. That is the date of the Gray’s Crossing Hearing. Gray’s Crossing is also known by an acronym – PC2. That stands for Planned Community 2, which was one of three “PCs” designated by the town’s 1996 General Plan. Commercial use, residential units, a golf course, hotel, open space and public facilities were all considered appropriate for the area, and maximum acres were assigned to each category of use. More specifically, the plan said PC2 “shall be developed as a destination recreational community.” That was the only place in all of Truckee’s 34 square miles to get that designation. Until an actual development proposal came along to refine the acreage amounts, the general plan numbers represented the town’s best guess, and desire, about how the PC2 lands should be utilized.
The 1997 placement of Measure M on the ballot was prompted by those who believed the development of PC2 would be harmful because the large amount of commercial use would steal business away from downtown. The Mill site might not be developed if PC2 is developed. Measure M would have amended the general plan, reducing most of the commercial use, removing the golf course and lodge, but keeping the 600 residential units. In the end, Truckee voters rejected Measure M in favor of the general plan.
PC2 was purchased by East West Partners in fall 2000. East West relied on the general plan and designed a destination recreational community. The company made a couple of common sense changes to respond to public sentiment and economic reality. The first change was a drastic reduction in commercial space. East West suggested a modest 40,000-square-foot total allowance for commercial space (about the size of the Truckee Safeway store) in lieu of the 1996 plan figure of 175,000 square feet of commercial space (about four and a half Truckee Safeway stores).
The other change was a reduction in the number of lodging units, from the 1996 plan figure of 300 beds, to 120 beds. East West presented a diversified proposal that kept intact the “resort” concept authorized in the general plan, while also providing 600 residential units, public trails, open space and public facilities. And as a bonus, the company took the infamous “commercial triangle,” a main focus of Measure M, out of the PC2 picture. East West has said they will make that parcel of 13 acres available for public use, subject to town approval. All of us get to decide what to do with East West’s land – maybe the town should hold a contest to solicit residents’ ideas?
Although the Measure M “downtown competition” issue has disappeared, opponents now question East West’s proposal to use the general plan as the authority for the project. East West’s site layout of the 600 homes is also in dispute.
East West Partners deserve the town’s support for making changes that respond to our community. It also deserves the town’s support for providing benefits beyond the minimum required (including 125 extra affordable housing units beyond what is required).
Will the town get what it wants – and then some – in the way of affordable housing, trails, open space, traffic and water improvements, and economic activity? Yes, if the plan is approved. But what happens if the PC2 plan is challenged? Will the town get the extras, over and above the minimum requirements? Probably not, because additional requirements means higher development costs, and East West will be looking at ways to pay that higher cost.
East West Partners became a feature of Truckee and did its best to follow what the town said it wanted for PC2. We all found out that East West truly meant what they said about contributing to the community. That kind of behavior should be applauded. We hope the Truckee Town Council sees merit in the Gray’s Crossing plan and takes the next step to approve the proposal. If development is going to occur, it should be careful to honor our General Plan, and be an asset to Truckee. On balance, Gray’s Crossing does both.
Pat Davison is Truckee field director of California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners (CABPRO).
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