Mourning the Death of Our Quaint Little Mountain Town

Truckee plan needs less growth, more quality

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By Rolf Godon

I have been an actively involved community member and resident for some 45 years. I participated in Truckee’s original general plan development. I have seen and experienced significant growth and changes in Truckee. I am most grateful to be a part of this community: one that is very loved, one where people care about one another through thick and thin, one that is deeply concerned about the dramatic growth and use patterns we face today and their impact on our lovely environment and quality of life. I have had conversations with many residents, as well as participated in public meetings, and come away with the observation that we all share deep concerns regarding the feared loss of community character and small town nature, the degradation of our most sought after natural setting, and the presence of an infrastructure that cannot sustain the quality of life we all came here to savor.

Lately, I have been finding myself feeling agitated and angry when confronted with what to me appears to be the “growth orientation” of the general plan update process. As I examine myself regarding the cause of these feelings I come up with “mourning.” Yes, I am mourning the “death” of our little mountain town and am in the anger phase of that mourning. I experience a sense of helplessness that I and much of our population are not being heard.

I am deeply concerned that the basic tenets of our existing general plan — which include protecting and enhancing the town’s character, promoting sustainable land use patterns, and preserving our natural resources — as well as the will of our residents, are being out-balanced by growth interests. All of the land use proposals in the general plan update are growth driven. As they call for significant increases in commercial/industrial development, they drive up the spiraling need for workforce housing. Thus, the housing crisis will continue and probably increase in an endless spiral.

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Neighboring communities are taking and have taken a more proactive approach regarding short-term rentals, public transport, and development. What is holding us back from rising to the occasion and being willing to act on behalf of the basic tenets and desires of our community.

Additionally, we are hearing about the needs for housing that is affordable to all parts of our population, including housing for seniors and other specific sub-groups. I must point out that according to studies, housing that integrates all people works best for everyone.

Perhaps a step back in our planning process is in order. Perhaps we need to take a long hard look at those basic tenets of what we want in our quality of life here in the mountains. The bear population certainly would appreciate that, and if they could, they would have some things to say about it. We need to right this growth imbalance by going back to basics, to align as a community, the citizens, town government, special districts, and elected officials.

I look forward to continuing dialogue regarding our lives in this grand environment.

~ Rolf Godon has been a full-time resident in the Truckee/Tahoe area since 1974, and has lived in the Truckee historic district on the Truckee River since 1986. He has been concerned about “growth” for much of that time. In 1987, he became involved in a grass roots movement (MAPF/MAP) to stop a K-Mart development proposal. More recently he was part of a citizen movement to save the Veterans Memorial Hall. He has a deep connection and loves this community and continues to fight to maintain this special place.

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