Four years ago, before the Covid pandemic began (hard to remember, right?), the Town of Truckee initiated the General Plan Update, Truckee 2040. The community was relatively engaged for roughly two years; after all, this would be Truckee’s development and conservation blueprint for decades to come. But, as the process dragged on and residents’ concerns went largely unanswered, participation dropped off, and apathy set in.
The plan is finally nearing completion, with potential adoption set for March. The Draft Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Report were released in June and August, respectively, and a number of awkward joint commission and council workshops were held throughout the summer and fall to hash out plan details. The benefit of these meetings is anyone’s guess, as neither commission input nor public comment seemed to hold much sway with most council members.
With plan adoption on the horizon, the question remains: Is it better to get it done now or is it better to get it done right? The self-mitigating Environmental Impact Report is the biggest offender of Truckee 2040. It is plagued by inaccuracies and insufficient mitigation. EIRs are legally required documents that analyze possible environmental effects as well as ways to minimize significant impacts. Instead of following the traditional EIR process, the town has opted to utilize a self-mitigating approach, essentially contending that every action and policy to mitigate Truckee 2040 impacts has already been included in the Draft Truckee 2040 General Plan. Oh, and the required Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program, well … The Town is going to skip that altogether.
Avowing that every possible policy and action to mitigate impacts is in the plan is tough to bet your money on, and here at Mountain Area Preservation, we’d like to call their bluff. MAP and other community members have been advocating for environmental and community benefits, and while some of our input has been addressed, a lot of it hasn’t. Here are some much-needed mitigation measures for Truckee 2040:
(1) Set Climate Action Plan policies to meet the excellent target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from baseline conditions by 2040. The Town set this goal, but the Climate Action Plan doesn’t meet it. And even if we do update the CAP in four years (as promised), there’s no guarantee that the next version will be better. Truckee is no stranger to the raging wildfires and extreme smoke days that occur more frequently as our climate changes. Do we really want to “compromise” on climate?
(2) Identify and map desired open space areas, wildlife crossings, and restoration priorities, and adopt clear and enforceable mechanisms for protecting these areas, such as a transfer of development rights program. These programs preserve land by transferring the right to build on a property to a different parcel. There’s vague language about a TDR program in the plan, but that language was included in the 2025 General Plan, with no action. It’s also tough to know what to protect without having baseline information about where critical resources are located.
(3) Create stronger protections for hillsides, ridges, and scenic corridors. Incentivize the placement of new utility lines underground to minimize fire risks and viewshed impacts.
(4) Include mitigation measures related to environmental justice. Marginalized community members’ health and wellness should not be jeopardized by Truckee 2040.
(5) Solidify the policies/actions included in the plan. (Don’t simply encourage policy implementation; rather, create enforcement and incentives to ensure that these policies come to fruition.)
(6) Adopt a local workforce housing priority/zoning overlay. We don’t need more market rate housing for second homeowners and vacation rentals. It is critical that Truckee 2040 prioritizes the social fabric of our community: the workforce!
Even though this process has dragged on, the community needs to re-engage in this effort because the implications are too important. Write to your council members or give them a call and tell them what’s important to you. Even if this makes a long process even longer, we have to get the Truckee 2040 General Plan right. The future of Truckee is at stake.
~ Sophia Heidrich is the advocacy director for Mountain Area Preservation. She grew up in and currently lives in Reno and has always had a strong love for the Truckee/Tahoe area. In her free time, you’ll find her hiking, skiing, playing cards, or traveling with her husband, Hunter, and their puppy, June.