My husband and I were long-time subscribers to Sunset when we lived in the Bay Area, and when we first moved up to Truckee. We then resubscribed a few years ago. Sunset used to target 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 your 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 is the 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 notice that the house is being built on yet another golf course (a non-sustainable monoculture where 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 new golf course neighborhood is being built by East West Partners, whose 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, and friends, in staged ‘lotteries’ are now being ‘flipped’ and sold to out-of-towners. Very few locals can afford a half million dollar LOT (.25 to .33 acre). As a result, we see sprawling McMansions built out to the minimum setbacks, designed by out-of-town architects, who apparently have never seen a roof dump snow.
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/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.
I, as well as a 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, Truckee