In addition to claiming the title of Curbed Cup Ski Town of the Year, Truckee also topped a nationwide ranking of communities using strategic steps to increase infill development. In the latest rankings from Infill Score, a website dedicated to logging and promoting communities’ infill development achievements, Truckee was the top performer nationwide, increasing its score from 25 to 85 from 2000 to 2015. That level of improvement was not only good enough for Truckee to rank as the top small community, but it also was the most improved of any town or city using Infill Score to benchmark its success. The credit for Truckee’s success largely falls to the community’s tenacity in following through on plans, some of which date back to the town’s1993 incorporation, to redevelop tracts of land that would otherwise only represent the scars of past industries.
One of the great coups of Truckee is that its master plan focused on infill growth starting in the late 1990s. That laid the groundwork for the town to find incentives to revitalize its downtown instead of building out the surrounding areas. The sites of an old sawmill and railyard, in particular, were key areas for the town to redevelop to create the kind of downtown it wanted.
The railyard especially was the focus of many plans and funding discussions over the years. While state funding was pulled for the project, the town redirected impact funds, invested in downtown streescapes and infrastructure and sought out grant funding whenever possible.
That brings us to where Truckee is now, with the parcel directly adjacent to town’s historic downtown now slated for major changes over the coming years. And in Infill Score’s rubric, Truckee has moved from having most of the foundational elements of infill in progress to having them completed and funding in place. The use of upfront plans and environmental reviews have streamlined the process and encouraged development.
What still remains somewhat untested is the demand for urban-style infill in a mountain community like Truckee. The infrastructure costs for infill are higher than some other expansion options, and the market will have the bear those extra costs for new infill development to be truly successful.
But Truckee has set a high bar for other mountain communities to follow in incentivizing infill development rather than sprawl that consumes green space. If the market bears the pricing set in Truckee, other ski towns might find it easier to implement similar plans, fees and investments.