Council Approves Contract to Study Vacancy Tax Measure
On March 28, Truckee Town Council authorized a contract with BAE Urban Economics to prepare a vacancy tax options analysis for both residential and commercial properties. The draft 2040 General Plan Land Use Element includes an action to explore a vacancy tax ballot measure. It is important to recognize and note that launching this analysis of potential options is just the beginning. Once the analysis is complete and more information is available, there will be a robust public process should a vacancy tax be further considered. Truckee residents, property owners, visitors, and other stakeholders will have many chances to participate.
Following the completion of the vacancy tax options analysis, results of the study will be presented to the town council at a public meeting in summer 2023. If the town council decides to further pursue a vacancy tax based on study results, the next step would be initial ballot measure polling to understand the level of voter support or opposition for this type of policy. Council would then need to take action at a public meeting to place a tax measure on a future ballot and a vacancy tax adoption would require voter approval.
From a policy perspective, a vacancy tax can incentivize the improved utilization of existing land use resources, potentially including both residential and non-residential property types. Since 2017, various iterations of vacancy taxes have been adopted in communities including Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, and Vancouver, British Columbia. Vacancy taxes may take many different forms and be applied in many different ways so the Vacancy Tax Options Analysis will study options for how a tax could be structured in Truckee, including exploring possible exemptions and analyzing the number of properties to which a vacancy tax may apply.
~ Town of Truckee enews
Board Formally Recognizes Tahoe Transportation Plan
Using a combination of data collection, agency coordination, and community engagement, Washoe County has developed a Tahoe Transportation Plan, which was formally recognized as a guiding document with actionable solutions to transportation issues in the Incline Village area. The plan includes recommendations related to local/regional trip reduction programs, multimodal accommodations, transit service, parking, intersection safety, snow removal, State Route 28, and technology. The document concludes with an overview of funding sources available for various types of improvements, along with recommendations for implementation timeframes and responsibilities.
“Community engagement in the Tahoe area, specific to transportation issues, were very important. We knew that on the onset,” said Assistant County Manager Dave Solaro. “So we wanted to identify all the transportation needs from the community and develop recommendations along the pertinent corridors.”
~ Washoe County enews
Community Input Needed to Inform Demand for Housing
The Mountain Housing Council of Tahoe Truckee, a project of the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, launched a new housing survey for employers and employees as part of an updated assessment of the region’s housing needs. Survey results will provide an update on the key findings of the 2016 and 2021 Truckee North Tahoe Regional Workforce Housing Needs Assessment and assess more immediate housing needs. The results will also assist MHC partner agencies in updating housing policy and developing appropriate housing strategies specific to our resident, in-commuting, seasonal and unhoused populations.
“The first study in 2016 defined the housing problem in our region and was the catalyst for launching Mountain Housing Council,” said Stacy Caldwell, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation CEO. “This study will give us important trend line data. It is crucial in helping our local governments, employers, and others prioritize what will best serve our local communities and their full-time, long-term housing needs.”
The survey will be open through May 15, and can be accessed in Spanish and English on the MHC website.
The MHC has contracted with Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. to conduct the surveys. General results will be shared anonymously/confidentially, and be made available on MHC’s website at mountainhousingcouncil.org.
~ Mountain Housing Council press release
NV License Plates Fund Environmental Stewardship
Every year, proceeds from sale and annual renewal of Nevada Lake Tahoe license plates are invested in projects that help preserve and restore Lake Tahoe’s unique natural environment.
This year, the Nevada Division of State Lands is excited to announce that over $470,000 in NV-LTLP proceeds support the following important environmental improvement projects:
Aquatic Invasive Plant Removal: The Tahoe Resource Conservation District will utilize scuba divers to place over 160 barriers on the lake bottom to eliminate one of the last remaining aquatic invasive plant infestations on the Nevada side of the lake. The barriers will cover over two acres of Eurasian watermilfoil plants at Logan Shoals Marina, and divers will use suction removal and hand pulling to maintain an invasive plant-free area over the next two years.
Lake Tahoe Environmental Ambassadors: The Sierra Nevada Alliance, a nonprofit organization, will support AmeriCorps volunteers to educate and inform the public on environmental issues affecting the Tahoe Basin. The ambassadors will engage with visitors at trailheads in Nevada State Parks and disseminate information from the Take Care campaign, including fire safety and awareness, litter and animal waste tips, and trail and wildlife etiquette. The program will also host a variety of litter clean-ups with volunteers from Clean Up the Lake, the Washoe Tribe, and the Tahoe Fund throughout the summer.
Algae and Asian Clam Delineation and Control: Using scuba divers and drone flights, the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center will continue its work to locate invasive Asian clams and metaphyton algae. This year, work will be expanded in Sand Harbor to five new locations, including Incline Beach, Hidden Beach, Chimney Beach, Whale Beach, and will be working closely with the Washoe Tribe at Skunk Harbor. The project goals include developing a long-term and cost-effective method for controlling invasive Asian clams in Lake Tahoe.
Ecological Monitoring at Spooner Meadow: Researchers from the Desert Research Institute will conduct a three-year monitoring study of the montane meadow near Spooner Lake in the state park. Results from the study will inform future restoration treatments and improve ecological function of the meadow as part of the larger Spooner Meadow Restoration Project, a Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program project.
Decline and Regeneration of Whitebark Pine Trees: A research team from the University of Nevada, Reno will examine the recent uptick in Whitebark pine tree mortality to determine how much of the increase can be attributed to blister rust, mountain pine beetles, weather conditions, and other factors. Whitebark pine was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 2022, and this study will help land managers better understand how to enhance regeneration of this valued forest species in the Tahoe Basin.
This important work is made possible by over 29,000 Nevadans who have purchased or renewed their Nevada Lake Tahoe license plate. Since the first license plates were sold in 1998, the NV-LTLP program has generated over $13 million and funded over 175 preservation and restoration projects on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. A Lake Tahoe License plate is $61 with an annual renewal fee of $30. To help protect Lake Tahoe by purchasing a plate, please visit: dmvnv.com/platescharitable.
~ Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Press Release
Acceptance of High School Resource Officer’s Grant
The Washoe County Board of Commissioners approved a $2.7 million grant from Dave and Cheryl Duffield that will be used to pay for two full-time deputy sheriffs and two vehicles for Incline Village High School. The additional deputy sheriffs at the high school will support the current law enforcement presence of the one officer, provided by the Washoe County School District Police Department.
~ Washoe County enews
Public Art Commission Volunteer Needed
The Public Art Commission of Truckee oversees the Town of Truckee’s public art program. It consists of seven members tasked with overseeing implementation of the adopted Public Art Master Plan. Responsibilities will include assisting with developing public art program priorities and processes, as well as overseeing program implementation, project prioritization, artist selection, and public outreach.
The Public Art Commission of Truckee will meet the first Tuesday of the month from 4 to 6 p.m. at town hall. The frequency of meetings will be determined by the number of projects and/or available project funding.
The town is currently seeking a Truckee resident to fill the lay member position, a community member with an interest in public art who is not a professional artist, or staff, board member, or owner of an arts business or organization. One member will be appointed for a term ending August 2024 to serve for the vacated term.
Applications may be picked up from the town clerk’s office, town hall, 10183 Truckee Airport Rd. They’re also available online at townoftruckee.com/apply. Application will remain open until the position is filled.
~ Town of Truckee press release
Bureau of Water Pollution Control Notice of Proposed Action
Incline Village General Improvement District (IVGID), the permittee, has applied for the renewal of groundwater discharge permit for the IVGID Water Resource Recovery Facility located at 1250 Sweetwater Rd. The permittee proposes to continue to discharge secondary treated wastewater to groundwater of the state.
Treated wastewater is pumped out of the Lake Tahoe Basin to Carson Valley via a 21-mile pipeline that terminates at a constructed wetlands in Douglas County. The pipeline includes laterals that supply reclaimed water to Schneider Ranch in Jacks Valley and Clear Creek Tahoe Golf Course in Clear Creek Valley near the south end of Carson City.
The proposed permit is being sent back out for public comments after the division adjusted the drafts in response to comments and objections received during the public comment period ending Jan. 20.
On the basis of preliminary review of the requirements of the Nevada Revised Statutes, as amended, and implementing regulations, the administrator proposes to issue Permit NS0030009 to discharge for a five-year period, subject to certain effluent limitations.
Persons wishing to comment upon or object to the proposed determinations by the administrator regarding permit issuance should submit their comments or request a hearing in writing, hand delivered or postmarked no later than 5 p.m. on May 26, either in person or by mail to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Further information, the fact sheet for this project can be viewed at the following website: ndep.nv.gov/posts/category/water.
~ Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources press release
Nevada Assembly Takes Unanimous Action to Protect Pollinators
The Nevada Assembly, by unanimous vote, took the state one step closer to banning the use of neonicotinoid insecticides used on plants, with a waiver for commercial agricultural purposes. Despite dramatic declines in bee populations linked to neonicotinoid pesticides and other toxic pesticides, the U.S. Environmental Protection and state regulatory authorities have for the most part ignored beekeepers and the independent scientific literature by allowing widespread toxic pesticide use — forcing elected officials to take protective action. Portions of the bill would take effect upon passage or no later than Jan. 1, 2024. Maine and New Jersey have adopted similar legislation.
The failure to adequately regulate pesticides under federal law, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, inaction is viewed by environmentalists as the disregard for the importance of biodiversity to sustaining life. The inadequate restriction of pesticides and slower-than-necessary transition to organic land management practices are viewed as major contributors to the “insect apocalypse.” The legislation, led by Assemblywoman Michelle Gorelow and a group of nine other assemblymembers, illustrates a growing trend of local and state legislative bodies asserting their authority to protect against health, biodiversity, and climate crises, linked to petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers, that are escalating out-of-control to devastating levels — with the U.S. Congress and federal agencies standing silent.
The complexity of pesticide hazards is captured in a statement by biology professor Matthew Forister, PhD, University of Nevada Reno, who told the Natural Resources Nevada Assembly Committee: “[T]he extreme and prolonged droughts of recent decades are reducing the densities of beneficial insects in … open lands. This new reality elevates the importance of all decisions that we make about managed lands, and chief among these decisions is the use of pesticides.”
~ Beyond Pesticides press release
Re: the vacancy tax study–vacancy taxes are a concept that has been pursued in a few CA citie in the last two years and none has yet taken effect. San Francisco’s tax, due to take effect in 2024, is being challenged in court. Truckee should not be spending the money on the study before the legal validity of such a tax has been established and preferrably until the experience of other jurisdictions can be assessed. I wouldn’t be surprised if this initiative was not homegrown but was pushed by the study vendor looking for revenue. And BTW, what was the outcome of the expensive reach code initiative–another vendor-driven project?
I am not against either of these proposals in principle and obviously the housing crisis and global warning desperately need solutions, but Truckee seems to be eager to grab at every new shiny object within view, without giving serious thought.