You Asked, They Answered allows readers to submit their questions about public goings-on and get responses. Something in the Tahoe/Truckee world confounding you? Submit your knotty question for public agencies to

Driving by the Pioneer Center roundabout looking at that site currently under construction, I had to wonder: How could the Town of Truckee approve a building plan that clear-cuts the entire lot? The stump in the foreground is from a tree that was at least 100 years old.

California Highway Patrol is relocating its Truckee office from the corner of Donner Pass Road and Highway 89 to this 5.3-acre site. The project was not required to go through Town approval since CHP is a state agency, but the Town has participated in a review of the project since 2015. “Extensive tree removal” in the initial plans in fact was brought up as a Town concern and the state responded with “greater preservation” of trees in the final plan. Other Town concerns, including lighting, traffic, and scenic corridor impacts, were sufficiently addressed by the state, according to a Town council meeting agenda item report from March 28, 2017. The new CHP project, part of a statewide effort to replace aging or inadequate field offices, will include a 30,000 square foot office building with auto service bays, a communications tower, secured and visitor parking areas, a citation clearing area, a fuel island and gas tanks, and an emergency generator.


~ Mayumi Elegado/Moonshine Ink

One solution to the #TahoeHousingCrisis would be allowing in-law units. Do the Town of Truckee or Placer County have restrictions for in-law units?


In-law units, granny flats, or accessory dwelling units: Whatever you call them, Placer County is following the state’s lead in crafting rules to encourage more of them as we, like communities throughout California, grapple with a serious and growing housing affordability problem.
In September 2016, the governor signed into law Assembly Bill 2299, which addresses all types of secondary or in-law units, detached or attached, under one term: accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

The law requires local jurisdictions to ensure all such units are regulated consistently and no stricter than the requirements of AB 2299. In short, it’s intended to make it easier to build ADUs by eliminating those regulations that have historically hampered efforts to permit and build them.
Per the new state law, the maximum allowed size of an ADU attached to an existing dwelling has now been increased to 50 percent of the existing living area (up from 30 percent), up to a maximum floor area of 1,200 square feet. Detached ADUs can be up to 1,200 square feet, subject to compliance with existing setback regulations. Off-street parking requirements have been reduced in number and provide more flexibility on how to design the parking spaces that are required.

At the beginning of this year, we began the process to revise our regulations to align with the new law. Community outreach on an ordinance to amend the zoning code is underway, and we expect to have a public hearing before the planning commission and then the board of supervisors in late summer or early fall.

ADUs will still be subject to the county’s development standards, including setbacks, but cannot be prohibited based on local plans or policies limiting residential density or growth. Based on the new law, Placer County will also be required to streamline review of ADU applications by ensuring they are approved or disapproved within 120 days of receipt.

In the meantime, we’re regulating ADUs in full compliance with state law. If you’re interested in building an accessory dwelling unit, we’re glad to hear it. Your first call should be to our Community Development Resource Agency office in Tahoe City, (530) 581-6200. They’ll be happy to walk you through the finer points of the rules and help guide you through the process.

~ Jennifer Merchant, Placer County deputy county executive officer for Lake Tahoe

Town of Truckee

A secondary residential unit (“second unit”) is a permanent dwelling that is accessory to a primary dwelling on the same site. A second unit provides permanent independent living facilities, including a full kitchen, sleeping area, and full bathroom facilities. One second unit (also called an accessory dwelling unit) is permitted on all single-family parcels on public sewer, and on all single-family parcels greater than three acres that use on-site septic systems, in the Town of Truckee. Second units are allowed to be within, attached to, or detached from the main dwelling. If detached, the second unit is required to be between 10 and 100 feet from the main house, and must be consistent with the same setbacks as the main dwelling. The Town has maximum size requirements for second units depending on the size of the main house:

• For parcels that are less than one acre, the floor area of the second unit cannot exceed 50 percent of the existing living area of the main dwelling or 800 square feet of gross floor area, whichever is less.

• For parcels that are larger than one acre, the floor area of the second unit cannot exceed 50 percent of the existing living area of the main dwelling or 1,200 square feet of gross floor area, whichever is less.

There is no minimum floor area requirement, as long as the unit complies with the building code. Previously, second units required two parking spaces in addition to the two parking spaces required for the main dwelling. However, the Town is currently working to reduce this requirement. Once a second unit is permitted and built, only one of the units may be rented as a short-term rental. There are no restrictions for long-term rentals on either unit.

Please be aware that homeowners associations have separate rules that may impact the development and use of second units in certain subdivisions.

~ Yumie Dahn, Town of Truckee associate planner

Who is responsible for protecting and maintaining the watershed behind Coachland RV Park in Truckee? There are some old signs there that look like somebody adopted it once, but I haven’t seen any work or activity there in many years.

Thank you for your question about that land. It is privately held and most likely part of the Spring Creek and/or Fishman Hollow subdivisions. You could contact them directly, or, the Town of Truckee may be able to help you contact the owners.

For public lands, the Truckee River Watershed Council has an Adopt-A-Stream program that focuses on water quality. Learn more about our program and our other work at

~ Lisa Wallace, Truckee River Watershed Council executive director


Previous articlePlacer vs. NLTRA: Same Structure, Different Driver; Lax Security at the Amphitheater
Next articleReal Estate Snapshot | July 2017