TRUCKEE, Calif. — The positive results of Truckee’s incorporation 20 years ago are evident throughout town, a point highlighted through stories told by past and present local politicians.
In 1993, the town of Truckee became incorporated after it was put to a vote in November 1992, garnering more than 70 percent local approval, with the big issues being area land use planning, snow removal and road maintenance — specifically regarding potholes along Jibboom Street, explained Truckee’s first mayor, Kathleen Eagan.
“There was a story about how highway patrol knew people were drunk if they drove straight down Jibboom Street,” she said, garnering a roar of laughter from the 100-plus crowd that gathered Friday night at the Community Arts Center to take a trip down memory lane with past and present council members in celebration of Truckee’s 20th anniversary of incorporation.
After the incorporation election was held, a separate election was held in March 1993 to determine the town council, something that was done deliberately.
“The risk is people will look at the people running for council and go, ‘Oh my God,’ we vote against incorporation,” Eagan said, explaining the reasoning behind holding separate elections.
Twenty-seven people ran to be on the first town council, said Breeze Cross, former mayor and member of the first town council.
“If there were 27 candidates, how many people were left to vote?” asked an amused Jim Porter, who moderated the Q-and-A segments with former and present town leaders, presented in a talk show format.
Those elected to the first town council were: Cross, Eagan, Bob Drake, Joe C. Aguera and Gary Botto. Steve Carpenter later joined the first council after Drake left prior to completing his term to run for a different office.
“I kept going, I hope Kathleen and Breeze know what they’re doing because I sure don’t,” said Botto, voicing his thoughts during the first council meeting, drawing laughs from the audience, a common occurrence throughout the night as past and present Truckee politicians shared personal stories of Truckee’s incorporation history.
The early years
The League of California Cities proved to be a big help to the fledgling council, providing both information and contacts, Cross said.
“We started from not having a clue, and we just kept gathering information, making decisions,” he said. “Underneath it there was a commitment to create a good government … something that would work well for our community, and involving community was always a cornerstone in everything that we do.”
A big hurdle for the first council was the announcement by Nevada County it would not provide the town with services after June 30, 1993, notifying members three weeks prior to that date.
“It was like ‘Oh my God.’ Here it is,” Cross said. “We’ve got three weeks, and we’ve got to not only organize a government, but we also got to organize all the services.”
Typically, new towns contract services back to the county until they have time to develop them and hire staff, Eagan explained.
“This wasn’t like we don’t have phones,” she said. “This is like we don’t have services, and we muddled through that.”
Some local projects members of the first town council oversaw included: funding and construction of the Glenshire Bridge, construction of the McIver undercrossing, Truckee’s first roundabout and the paving of Jibboom Street.
“We decided as a council that we wanted to pave that street because we need to show something relative to the three reasons that people really wanted to incorporate,” Eagan said. “We needed to act.”
Boom to bust to bright
The council members who came after the first ones took the reins at a time when the economy was white hot.
“If you look at the old general plan and analyze the capacity of development that they (the county) had laid out for Truckee, not knowing we were going to have that economic boom coming, we could see twice as much development here that we see today,” said Ted Owens, who served on council from 2001 to 2004. “It was very much dodging a bullet.”
Yet, that economic boom turned to bust in the late 2000s.
“I would like to thank the former council for handing us a building department of 15 employees that we had to cut to three,” said Mayor Carolyn Wallace Dee. “I can remember the call from (Town Manager) Tony Lashbrook, who said we’re doing a layoff in the town of Truckee for the first time ever. … It was kind of a sinking feeling that said, ‘Oh, no, not on my watch,’ but it had to be done.”
Now, in 2013, she said development is starting to return to Truckee as the economy improves, with several projects slated from trails to road maintenance this summer.
“(It) really depicted the last 20 years of Truckee’s history extremely well,” said Truckee resident Marilyn Disbrow, after the panel segments. “(It was) lots of fun, very interesting and gave you an insight for all the work that it took to make the town what it is today.”
Truckee resident Wes Byer agreed.
“(It’s) just a great reminder of the history — where we’ve been and a good look at where we’re going,” he said.
A future that looks bright to Wallace Dee.
“We went through the worst and now we’re going to the best,” she said.
“Involving community was always a cornerstone in everything that we do.”
Former Truckee mayor, member of the first town council