Kara Fox
Sierra Sun

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November 14, 2006
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Residents say they want livable, walkable communities " now

The final workshop in a three-part series designed to make communities more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly was met with a lot of frustration by locals who want to see immediate change.

Nearly 40 community members from the North Shore and Truckee, as well as regional agency officials, attended the meeting in Kings Beach presented by Paul Zykofsky of the Sacramento-based Local Government Committee. Zykofsky, who was invited by the Design Committee of the North Tahoe Business Association, showed photos of communities around the nation that have become "walkable" and explained how towns can change their current situations.

"These are places where our children learn to socialize and interact," Zykofsky stressed. "It is where we meet and may meet the person we will eventually marry. In order to have these successful places, you need to get out of your car. Unfortunately, we've created places where it is hard to do that."

Zykofsky presented examples from Chico, Davis, the Bay Area and Denver, as well as other towns.

However, community members voiced concerns, saying they wanted guidance on how to make immediate changes, how to change county and city codes to make those changes, and how that vision would apply in snow conditions.

Dave Wilderotter, owner of Tahoe Dave's Ski and Boards, said simple decisions can make a big difference.

"I am building an extension on my store [in Kings Beach] and I am deciding whether to put my parking in the front or in the back," Wilderotter said. "What I am hearing is that my store becomes a better retail store if the parking is behind the store."

Zykofsky said his techniques "can work well whether you have snow or not." His ideas included infill development " where development occurs on empty lots in an urban area " and form-based codes, which are designed by community members and implemented into general plans. Simple changes, like pushing storefronts to the sidewalk and adding vegetation, can change the look and feel of towns, he said.

A Truckee resident said he believes bureaucracy gets in the way of these types of plans, but some residents were ready to jump-start the process.

"I'm pretty much ready to support what is out there today. We get hung up on the real small things," said Dave Ferrari, a business owner in Kings Beach. "The road [in Kings Beach] has to change and we need to invest in some kind of capital. We just got to get a little momentum."

Going down the road

Placer County is currently in the environmental review process of a highway re-design in Kings Beach, which would bring sidewalks, a bike path, and lighting to the town. The public will soon have a say in whether they want to see a four-lane highway or three-lane highway in Kings Beach.

The business association's design committee provided the workshops as a way to inform the community of what other communities are doing. The knowledge gained in the workshops are for individual use, said Dave Polivy, who sits on the design committee.

Polivy said with the growth and planning in Truckee, and the new projects in Kings Beach, it is important for the community to be educated on the design process.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Nov 14, 2006 06:28PM Published Nov 14, 2006 09:26PM Copyright 2006 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.