Taking it to the street: The business of busking in Truckee | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Taking it to the street: The business of busking in Truckee

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The stand-up piano could be from an old-time saloon, fitting the Old West facade of downtown Truckee. But no, the open-topped piano, pulled from the cool interior of Best Pies in Truckee's historic district for several nimble-fingered ivory ticklers, was donated by an ex-employee. "People just love it," said Best Pies co-owner Elise Pannell, of the occasional busking, or street performances. "On Saturday and Sunday, Jody's here with the kids, and it brightens up downtown, it's really cool." Jody Sweet, piano man with Cabin Fever, is all about busking and performs weekends with Truckee High School Jazz Band students in front of the pizza place. "The main reason we do this is to get the kids out playing and make money for the school, not sitting on their ass(es)," said Sweet. "It provides something to the town, what they call 'ambiance.'" Not everyone agrees, however. Pannell has not heard one negative comment; however, according to Sweet, town of Truckee police have responded several times to complaints about the sidewalk entertainers. JoAnne Pohler, owner of JoAnne's Stained Glass, a long-time storefront on commercial row said, "I'd like to see a process, so the location or the (type of) music won't be up to one person … some people might want to play five times a week, maybe once a week." Pohler, a board member of the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association off and on for the past 30 years, feels the association should be able to approve the street musicians, who they are, what they're playing, and how often, to keep players who might not be so desirable from just plopping down anywhere, any time. As a rent-paying business owner, she does not feel comfortable, nor does she like being in the position of confronting musicians directly in front of her livelihood. The town of Truckee received concerns about the piano being played on the sidewalk, related to noise impact on businesses, pedestrian access and the impact on customers in the stores, said John McLaughlin, the town's community development director. "The town does not have an official position on street performers," he said. "Downtown Truckee is becoming a more and more vibrant place for our entire community — locals and tourists alike. With this vibrancy comes a desire to participate in the excitement … Buskers have the ability to do that. In some communities, buskers have also created issues impacting local businesses. It is the town's hope that all involved with the busking scene will be respectful of each other, and the community as a whole." THEN THERE WERE THREE The piano in question is now placed in a less-obtrusive area, with fresh fingers and old names on board. Three relative newcomers to the Truckee busking scene played recently on a sunny Friday afternoon. Ryan Taylor, piano, Chris Emmington, guitar, and Conor McAlindin, drums, pumped out lively jams, with downtown patrons doing a little jig with the kids, boogying solo, and dropping coinage into an open guitar case. The threesome are "Thick Newton," a band that will groove you aprés Squaw Valley's Bluesdays at the Auld Dubliner this summer, with additional gigs at Tahoe City's Fat Cat (find them on Facebook). "We were joking about how funny it would be to actually have a band called Thick Newton," said Emmington. And there you have it. The trio has been playing high-energy tunes, funk and rock 'n roll for about five months, and very much enjoy the outdoor scene in Truckee. "It's not often you can play an acoustic piano outside," said Taylor, who teaches music lessons at Between the Notes in Truckee. "We'll keep on playin', enjoy a little sunshine." "It's a blast, just righteous," added Emmington, who doubles as the New Moon "juice guy." 'A MAGICIAN, A MIME' Sweet said he likes to "keep his chops up" with the Truckee High Jazz Band kiddos. "I've got a 16-year-old kid (Lucas Rohlf) who's playing at a pro level," he said. "One student who joins the group, Shasta Tresan, is going on with a musical scholarship." Donations from the THS busking events go back to the students who perform, and the THS Jazz Band program, about $10-15 for the kids and $60-120 a month for the band. A few high-caliber hands also have hit the Best Pies piano, including the keyboard player from Toto and a New York Philharmonic concert pianist. "He kicked my ass with Scott Joplin rags," said Sweet. "Everybody's havin' a good vibe, improving their craft … makin' money," he later said. "Busking goes back to the old days in Europe, a magician, a mime … performers for the King and Queen. If you were bad, perhaps you were banished from the kingdom." For the present, nobody's banished from busking in downtown. The Truckee Downtown Merchants Association will continue discussions, according to Pohler. They meet the first Wednesday of every month and may be contacted through http://www.historictruckee.com.

Amid growing crowds, Truckee Thursdays kicking off 9th year

TRUCKEE, Calif. — In the summer of 2008, the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association launched a community event called Truckee Thursdays, a weekly gathering for residents and visitors to get a taste of local shops, food, art, live music and more in the heart of downtown. Attendance was respectable from the start, with a couple hundred locals and visitors converging to downtown Truckee each Thursday over 10 weeks. Eight years later, with upwards of 4,000 people projected to head downtown every Thursday this summer, it's arguably grown into Truckee's signature summer event. The 2016 Truckee Thursdays kick off Thursday, June 9, at 5 p.m. in downtown Truckee. The event includes live music, beer garden, food court, street fair and kids activities — everything from bounce houses to face painting to an airplane simulator, which will be provided by the Truckee Tahoe Airport every other week. "We're excited to start a new season," said Chelsea Walterscheid, Truckee Thursdays event manager. "We have great bands lined up, you're going to see artisan vendors that you haven't seen yet … we're excited to get the community back together and celebrate the summer. "It's a time when you can come downtown, bring your kids, and see all the people you know in town in a high-energy atmosphere and in a beautiful setting. Whether you go to one or a few or every single week, it's a fun event for everybody to enjoy seeing everybody and running into people. It really celebrates community." PARKING CHALLENGES With the number of people who join the celebration likely to increase this summer, Truckee Thursdays is implementing a new free shuttle service — sponsored by the town of Truckee and Northstar California — to help ease parking congestion. Beginning Thursday and running through the Aug. 18 event, shuttles will travel to and from downtown Truckee between from 4:30-9:30 p.m. to the following destinations: Donner Lake, Squaw Valley, Sierra Meadows, Brockway, Northstar, Prosser and Glenshire. Additionally, the shuttle will run to and from a pair of park-and-ride lots at Truckee High School and the Rodeo grounds. (Notably, the rodeo lot won't be available on Aug. 11). The Tahoe Donner Association will also provide a free shuttle service to and from Tahoe Donner. "This is a really big effort to bring people into and back home from the event," Walterscheid said of the new shuttle program. "With construction downtown, parking is a premium. Having a shuttle available to bring all interested participants into the event is going to help alleviate vehicular congestion inside the downtown corridor." While the shuttle service is free, monetary donations will be accepted, Walterscheid added. The cost of the shuttle service program is $45,000, with Northstar providing an in-kind contribution of $4,000 and the remaining $41,000 provided by the town of Truckee through its Economic Development Support program, said Alex Terrazas, assistant town manager. "We think parking is going to be a huge challenge so we're trying to be proactive before we have those problems," Terrazas said. Benefiting businesses Along with providing a platform for the community to gather and socialize, Truckee Thursdays also bolsters the downtown businesses. "Any time that you can capitalize on getting just a handful of the 3-4,000 people (who go to Truckee Thursdays) at your front door, that's a huge benefit," said Julie Huck, owner of Gratitudes Gifts & Home Décor and member of the Truckee Thursdays committee. "It brings people from all over the region and second homeowners into our downtown core to look around and see what's new for the season. I think it's a humongous benefit for our downtown merchant association and also all of us as merchants." For Heather River, owner of Bespoke in downtown Truckee, the annual summer event is a weekly highlight. "Truckee Thursdays is such an important and fun part of our summer in Truckee," River said. "It is one of our busiest and most fun days of the week. And serves as a wonderful way to meet and connect with our local community. We love it."

Truckee considers new parking garage

While not as far along in the process as Tahoe City, Truckee is also considering the construction of a new parking structure to keep up with growth. With potential locations proposed along Jibboom Street, the three-story structure would be built to meet parking needs as in-fill development continues in the downtown area. Truckee’s Redevelopment Agency is looking for a $35,000 state grant to prepare a feasibility study that would look at both the economics of a new garage, and the supply and demand for parking in the downtown core, said David Griffith, the town’s redevelopment and housing coordinator. “This is just a study to investigate the financial feasibility of a garage; it doesn’t mean we are moving on the structure,” Griffith said. “It’s going to be a very public process.” While construction on the Tahoe City parking structure could begin in 2008 and be completed the following year, Griffith said construction of Truckee’s garage couldn’t begin for at least three years at its most likely site. The site favored by the town is at the corner of Jibboom and Bridge streets, at the post office location. If that lot is selected, the town would move the post office. “The earliest anything could happen is at the end of the post office’s 3-year lease,” Griffith said. “But realistically we couldn’t break ground sooner than five years, with completion within six to eight years.” Griffith said this is the favored location because the three-story structure would fit in with the surrounding buildings better. “Compared to the Tahoe City situation, we don’t have the view-shed issues,” Griffith said. “It would be tucked in behind Commercial Row, not blocking the view of any businesses.” Also included in the project would be the development of the lot across Jibboom Street to the north, which could include commercial and hotel uses, Griffith said. The garage itself may also incorporate 5,000 square feet of retail and office use “wrapped” around the sides of the ground floor, he said. The post office could then be located in either of those retail areas, or in the Railyard Development planned for the downtown area, Griffith said. Griffith said the study will look at how much parking will be needed to keep up with growth in the downtown area. Past studies indicated the town would come up short in parking as development continues. In a previous interview, Kelly Beede, Truckee parking services manager, said a parking structure would provide more long-term parking for downtown. “The potential use will be from hotels, infill on Jibboom and the Railyard,” Beede said.

Truckee Donner Chamber awarded economic development grant

The Truckee Town Council recently allocated more than $2.5 million in funds available for two new economic development incentive programs: Economic Development Support Program and the Economic Development Fund Program. These new programs are intended to help foster a healthy, year-round local economy by providing financial assistance for specific projects. At a recent Town Council meeting, the Chamber was awarded a grant for two related projects. The first is to work with the lodging industry on the creation of a Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID). TBID's can provide stable, dedicated funding for tourism promotion through a small assessment on certain sales such as room nights. The grant will allow the Chamber to work with a consultant for further education, outreach and consensus building amongst the lodging industry, then the necessary documents preparation and hearing process. It is anticipated this will be an 8-9 month process. "We have done some initial education and outreach within the lodging community and are encouraged with the level of support a TBID has received," said Jon Borden, Chamber Board member. "We are anxious to get the process underway to bolster Truckee's ability to enhance our marketing and competitive position." The second related project for which the Chamber was awarded a grant is for an integrated place-based marketing and brand campaign. The Chamber led a collaborative economic development initiative, Truckee Tomorrow, which was a partnership with the Chamber, the Town of Truckee, the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association, and Nevada County. The group hired Ryan Sharp of the Center for Strategic Economic Research (CSER) to work with the community to identify strategies for enhancing economic prosperity. Following several community meetings, the group overwhelmingly chose a place-based marketing and brand campaign strategy. The goal of the strategy is to: • Brand Truckee – establish our brand position, which will refine our current and future marketing (both tourism and economic development) • Inform and Educate – educate potential employees and businesses with key information for moving, relocation or starting a business in Truckee • Diversify the Truckee Economy – actively marketing Truckee will recruit both tourism and non-tourism businesses that will help diversify the economic base and increase revenue • Maximize marketing effectiveness – by using marketing channels that maximize reach, such as public relations, social media and internet, while using technology to measure performance and further optimize the marketing spend "The Chamber has been committed to the collaborative partnership and the Truckee Tomorrow economic development initiative for several years. We are pleased that the Town Council identified economic development as a priority, set aside these funds, and created the process of granting money to the community for projects such as these," said Pam Hobday, Chamber Board member. The Chamber will be required to acquire matching private funding commitments prior to moving forward with the place-based marketing and brand campaign strategy. The Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce currently promotes Truckee as a tourism destination through funding provided by the Town of Truckee for marketing programs, and visitor services for the management and operation of the California Welcome Center in the historic train depot in downtown Truckee. Contact the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce at 530-587-2757 or visit http://www.TruckeeChamber.com for business information; http://www.truckee.com for visitor information.

Truckee tries to make parking smarter

Downtown Truckee’s parking meters are getting smarter. The town will be the second in California to integrate Parcxmart Technologies’ Smart Card system to its existing parking meters. The system should be running by July 4. The Smart Card technology was chosen by the town through the partnership with the present parking meters that are placed along more than 500 parking spaces downtown, said John Regan, Parcxmart Technologies president and CEO. The Smart Card will work similarly to a debit card, in that people can add money to the card and use it to pay for parking and merchant purchases instead of coins or credit cards. Kelly Beede, parking services coordinator for the town, was not available for comment on Wednesday. The Smart Card payment system is currently being used in San Jose. Regan said people who use Smart Cards are able to use them wherever the technology is in place. “What’s really cool about it is that people may be able to] pick up a card in Truckee and use it in Berkeley,” Regan said about Parcxmart’s plans for launching the system in other cities in California. Regan said the system software will be downloaded into the downtown parking meters and a computer chip will be installed that will read the Smart Cards when scanned. People who choose to use the card system will receive a 15 percent discount on downtown parking meter fees. Regan said the parking meters will be able to calculate the correct discount for parking and keep track of the card’s balance. How to get one People can get Smart Cards by going to participating merchants who have the Parcxmart’s decal on their front windows. He said approximately 15 downtown businesses are interested in being a part of the new system. Businesses will issue and load the cards with funds by accepting cash, credit, or debit cards with a minimum purchase starting at $10 up to a $100 limit, said Regan. The card also brings rewards for local merchants who choose to be included in the new technology because it works just like a debit card to make a purchase. “People can also go into a merchant’s place and buy your omelettes there,” Regan said, referring to the restaurant Squeeze In, one of the business’ that will participate. The Smart Card features Parcxmart Instant Cool Rewards that gives “instant gratification” for card users who frequent downtown merchants on a regular basis, said Regan. He said people can win free prizes when they use their cards 10 times at the same business. Regan said the actual prizes people may receive are up to individual merchants, ranging from free coffee to merchandise discounts. “It’s a very open system,” Regan said. “It’s completely targeted to local merchants because they actually earn commission.” Regan said the smart cards are cost-efficient with no transaction fees for downtown businesses and safe for consumers because they will never experience identity theft when choosing to pay with the card.

Parking tickets start Monday: Absent or expired parking slip will garner a $12 ticket

TRUCKEE – Beginning Monday parking enforcement officers here will be handing out tickets to people with absent or expired meter payments downtown after issuing one final warning, according to town officials. The downtown paid-parking district has been in effect for about two weeks. But that time has been devoted to educating people about payment options and operation of the meters. Now enforcement of unpaid or lapsed payments will be met with tickets, said Truckee’s Parking Coordinator Kelly Beede. “Everyone will receive one warning and then after that they get a citation,” Beede said. An absent or expired parking slip will garner a $12 ticket, she said. The ticket for parking in an employee parking area or residential parking area without a permit will cost $15. Enforcement of permits for employee and residential parking areas will begin on Dec. 1, she said. Beede said she has been getting scores of comments on the new parking meters, most of them negative. “There’s more negative feedback than positive,” she said. But among downtown business owners, the outlook is more positive. “I think that it has already been a tremendous success,” said Stefanie Olivieri, downtown business owner and president of the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association. “We are seeing at least 100 parking spaces open up.” Approximately 10 downtown businesses have agreed to reimburse customers for parking, Olivieri said. Some have agreed to take $1 off a purchase, and others have agreed to a lesser amount, she said. Businesses that validate parking will have white signs with blue lettering in their windows to notify customers that they reimburse parking. “If you recognize that you will be reimbursed for your parking, there is not a cost to you,” Olivieri said. As for employee parking, permit costs equal roughly $1 per day, said Olivieri. She said she has heard that many businesses are buying the permits for their employees or paying half of the cost. “I am hoping that employers will participate by buying passes for all their employees,” she said. Down at the Squeeze In, which is packed by tourists and locals each morning, owner Gary Young said that out-of-towners don’t seem to mind the meters and many locals come in for breakfast before the 10 a.m. start of paid parking. However, he said some locals are still unaware that they can come in and eat without paying to park before 10 a.m. “A lot of locals complain to us, but they are still going to come to the Squeeze In,” Young said.

Truckee business owners criticize sign rules as impractical, unfair

TRUCKEE – Town officials here have fought sign blight to maintain mountain character, but many local business owners say they feel the rules are complex, impractical, and not always fair. Truckee’s sign ordinance exceeds 6,000 words in its mission to “preserve the character” of the town. Town officials are finding the ordinance is not always agreed with or appreciated. Businesses owners and the local government are battling over what is reasonable, and if the rules are consistent. “We got a beautiful new sign that is not worth anything in the winter,” said Timbo Brown, head chef and part owner of Zano’s Restaurant. “The town has businesses jumping through hoops on code issues; the sign thing doesn’t help.” A number of business owners find the monument style of sign, in the town ordinance, while attractive, is not practical. “The town makes you spend an extra $5,000 to trim your sign with wood or rock, but it cannot even be seen during the winter months due to snow. Lots of small businesses cannot afford the investment on top of bringing things up to code,” Brown said. Margo Groth, a real estate agent with Boice Countryside, and resident of Truckee for more than 10 years, said it’s not necessarily signage that helps or harms business. “The [people in] town embrace good food and good service. If a business provides that, customers will come,” she said. Groth said it’s all about striking a balance when it comes to the sign issue. “I am concerned about aesthetics and want signs appropriate, and in proportion. I look at businesses all the time that come and go, but would guess rent is a bigger factor than signage,” she said. “If a business has something of value, this town will embrace it.” Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook said the language in the ordinance is there to help maintain Truckee’s mountain character, while allowing identification of businesses. “There are many methods for advertising. We just don’t want billboards in town for instance,” Lashbrook said. Asked about businesses that would like more freeway traffic exiting into their part of town, Lashbrook said: “A 60-foot pole sign would dramatically change the character of our community.” In developing the town general plan there was strong public sentiment to limit the areas in Truckee with freeway-oriented usage, Lashbrook said. The town wants to limit businesses like gas stations and fast food to certain areas to ensure Truckee not become similar to other towns along Interstate 80, he said. “The town does not restrict franchises,” he said. “Nothing is wrong with these businesses as long as they meet our standards.” The Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce and Town of Truckee are working on a more comprehensive signage program intended to help area businesses, Lashbrook said. It will include signage to help get people to the downtown given the 267 Bypass, as well as other chamber of commerce-related signage, he said. Not just a Truckee issue Just outside the Truckee town limits, near the airport at Great Mountain Furniture, Larry Sargent is also challenged by sign requirements. He has run into similar problems while trying to meet Placer County’s requirements. “While part of it is probably my fault; I feel like I am trying to hit a moving target. I am not sure there is a real rule,” Sargent said. “Placer County has been reasonable. I just wish there was clearer criteria,” said Sargent, who is preparing to go back to the county to get another sign permit. He said he has found what neighboring businesses have in signage, doesn’t necessarily apply to him. “Right should be right for everyone, not depending which way your building is facing, or the wind is blowing,” he said. Runway Café owner, Amy Burke, whose business is in Nevada County but outside of Truckee town limits, has had her own experiences with signage. At the same location for almost six years, she attributes her success to a lot of good customers who she find her by word of mouth. “Business is currently really good,” Burke said. “I get a lot of business park customers, contractors from Lahontan, and during the summer walk-ins from the airport.” She said she gave up three to four years ago trying to get a sign at Airport Road and Highway 267, in Placer County. “Placer County didn’t want to approve anything, didn’t care, and categorically denied my requests. There was no way to get a permit for a temporary or permanent sign,” she said. She looked for locations for her business in Truckee town limits in the past, but she didn’t think there were many sign options, she said. “Everything I thought about doing wasn’t allowed – nothing,” said Burke. “Some limitations I understand, not neon, not tacky, not flashing; but people still have to actually be able to see the sign.” Zoning issues Industrial areas that have some mixed-commercial use, like the Pioneer Commerce Center, allow retail businesses that are expected to service the area but not attract freeway or other walk-in customers, said Lashbrook. In Pioneer Commerce Center, tenants like Mary Linde, former owner of Perkins Organic Goodness see it differently. “It destroyed us. We couldn’t get business and had to close. Truckee did nothing but take my money, and flush it down a black hole of anonymity,” she said. Her business, a retail deli and wholesale bakery, closed after what she said was an expensive and frustrating 13-month effort. “I cannot tell you how many people called and said they came out three to four times but couldn’t find us,” Linde said. “If you are not downtown, you cannot have meaningful signage and create a business, I spent $12,000 just to tell people where we were.” For information on the Town of Truckee’s sign ordinance, go to http://www.townoftruckee.com.

Meters ahead for downtown Truckee: Parking fees expected to begin this fall

TRUCKEE – The days of parking for free downtown are coming to an end. The Truckee Town Council has authorized the purchase of 35 “pay and display” meters for nearly $300,000. The multi-space meters, which will print tickets that will be placed in car windows, are expected to be in service downtown by Oct. 3. Truckee also recently hired a parking coordinator, and will soon negotiate a lease for a parking lot previously operated by the Downtown Merchants Association. All the moves mean Truckee now has both feet firmly in the parking game, a position that will bring its challenges in the months ahead, town officials said. “I can guarantee that we are not going to get it perfect on the first cut,” said Dan Wilkins, public works director, of the upcoming creation of a metered parking district in downtown. One of the biggest questions will be whether to meter the entire downtown at one time, or phase in the paid parking so the managers and enforcers of the parking district can work out the kinks slowly. At last week’s Town Council meeting, council members was leaning toward having all the meters operational at one time. “Frankly, the truth of the matter is metering throughout downtown all at the same time is probably the most successful and least controversial way to go about this,” said Truckee Mayor Craig Threshie. The meters will be solar-powered, so they will not need any trenching for electricity. They will also process credit or debit cards for motorists who do not have spare change. Officials are also working on the idea of a “local’s pass” for residents who frequent the downtown and do not want to feed the meter each time they park. Representatives from the Downtown Merchants Association were relieved to see the downtown on the brink of establishing paid parking – a goal several of them have pushed for years. “It’s a great plan. It’s been worked on real hard,” said Jerry Wood, owner of the White Buffalo. Stefanie Olivieri, president of the Downtown Merchants Association, said the parking program needs to be initiated with the fewest problems possible. “I think the most important thing for the merchants is we want it to be a good experience for the locals and the visitors that come to us,” Olivieri said. Councilman Richard Anderson said that parking staff should be out in force to monitor any problems that arise as paid parking comes into effect. “It does seem important that we do have people out looking for problems so we can deal with them as quickly as possible,” he said.

Truckee studies building types for railyard

TRUCKEE – A railyard development here has moved a little farther down the tracks with the approval of a state-funded study that lays out the building blocks of the project. The Truckee Town Council approved the “building types study” of the railyard, which was purchased by Emeryville-based Holliday Development in January 2004. The development is being planned by the town and Holliday as a mixed-use project that will extend Truckee’s downtown to the east. The study looks at affordable housing and how to mix housing and commercial space in the former railroad property. The report highlights 20 housing types, analyzing each option’s construction costs, required lot size and suitability. The authors of the study, Colorado-based Wolff Lyon Architects, examined ways to load residential units on a site that is appropriate for a much denser development than other parts of town, according to planners. The report concludes that the railyard could hold 329 housing units and create 236 jobs. Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook said the planning for the railyard is still in its preliminary phases. The housing options in the study will have to be tinkered with and mixed with other uses before a final master plan appropriate for Truckee’s downtown is formulated, he said. “There’s this balance between scale and the number of housing units, and I think that will be one of the interesting aspects in the [railyard’s] master plan,” Lashbrook said. The study looks at lofts, row houses, cottages and duplexes; all of which will make economical use of the 21-acre parcel that Holliday Development is planning as an extension of downtown. For Councilman Josh Susman, the area provides a blank slate – an opportunity to build a neighborhood from scratch without the normal complaints of too much density or incompatibility with nearby uses. In the case of the railyard, a dense development is appropriate, he said. Looking at the study’s housing types that can pack 40 units or more on an acre, Lashbrook agreed that the railyard will be unlike recent projects in town. “That’s a lot higher density than we’ve traditionally seen in Truckee,” Lashbrook said. Right now Holliday Development is waiting on two large issues before they can move ahead with building the final plan for the railyard. “The challenge is the creek and the balloon track relocation, and we are trying to make all that work,” Dinsmore said. The “balloon track” is a circular length of railroad that allows rail-clearing snowplows to turn around. Holliday Development said negotiations with Union Pacific to move the track to the east – allowing for a continuous development abutting Truckee’s downtown – are progressing well, Dinsmore said. Meanwhile planners are working on ways to incorporate a re-routing and rehabilitation of Trout Creek into the project. A third issue – soil contamination – is being analyzed, said Dinsmore. The 4.7 acres of land closest to Truckee’s downtown tested positive for only minor contamination, he said. The development team still has to test the area in the center of the “balloon track,” he said.

Parking meters move into cars

TRUCKEE – Shoppers here will soon be able to use the parking meter before leaving the car. Truckee Parking Services will begin distributing an in-car parking meter for the downtown paid-parking area on Monday. The device will hang from the rear-view-mirror while the vehicle is parked in a paid-parking area, deducting from a pre-paid amount – customers can purchase from $10 to $200 at a time – said Truckee Parking Services Manager Kelly Beede. “It gets turned on when you leave the car and off when you get back,” Beede said. “It alleviates the need to go to a meter – we’re trying to provide a convenient, flexible alternative.” The unit will cost $55, and includes a 25 percent discount on the town’s parking rates, she said. The meter is programmed to shut off after four hours, the current time limit for downtown Truckee, she said. Beede said each unit will have a pin number, so if the meter is stolen, no one else can use it. Parking Enforcement will be able to see the meter running through the windshield, but in the event of a big snowstorm, Beede said they won’t issue tickets for meters not visible under the snow. Parking Services will be able to both reload credit in the meter and replace batteries, which should last two to five years, Beede said. She said other similar communities using in-car meters include Aspen, Colo., and Park City, Utah. Debbi Kirkwood, the office manager for Parking Enforcement, said the in-car units have been a success. “We love them – they’ve been great,” Kirkwood said. Downtown Truckee merchants had mixed opinions regarding the in-car meters – including that some had not yet heard of them. Sandy O’Connor, owner of Molly’s Cupboard, said she didn’t think the units would be very popular. “We are hardly even doing the [Smart] cards,” O’Connor said. She said that many locals just look for the free spots, and she didn’t know of a business that attracts locals on a consistent basis to make an in-car meter worth it. Sue Moule and Julie Tenorio, co-owners of Gratitudes Gifts and Home Decor, were more optimistic about the meters. “I already have customers waiting for them,” Moule said. “The discount is going to be great, but it’s the convenience in inclement weather and everything – I think it will be fabulous.” Tenorio said she thinks it is a great idea but wishes the unit itself cost less money. The town has 100 units and a list of about 30 interested, Beede said. She said the town may get more in-car paid-parking devices, depending on their popularity. They make great stocking stuffers, too, she said. For more information go to the Truckee Parking Division in Town Hall or contact Beede at (530) 582-2915.