SF Chronicle heralds new plans for Truckee downtown development

On April 15, the San Francisco Chronicle published a column about the remarkable new development of Truckee:


One of California’s hottest development projects can be found in one of its coldest towns.

In an era of neighbor-bites-neighbor fights against big developments, perhaps it’s fitting that an antidote should emerge from Donner Pass. Tiny Truckee — a snowy municipality of 16,300 — is doubling the size of its downtown.

The Railyard Project — it’s a converted rail yard — shows that communities can overcome NIMBYism, environmental litigation, and other California obstacles in pursuit of transformational development. The project also shows just how difficult such transformations have become in a state once famous for dramatic change.

Truckee’s ambition is startling. First, it’s starting with affordable housing — often the last type of housing to be added to a project, given the political and financial challenges. Second, it’s exactly the sort of dense, urban development that draws fierce opposition in the state’s biggest cities.

While the project has gotten little notice outside the Sierra, that seems likely to change as construction continues. The project used innovative financing mechanisms, including dollars from the state’s cap-and-trade program. It is likely to employ factory-made housing as a way of reducing the sky-high costs of construction. And gubernatorial front-runner Gavin Newsom has praised Truckee for supporting smart development.

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