Longtime Nevada City resident Evans Phelps has announced her candidacy for one of the two seats open in the June Nevada City Council election.
The former owner of the Outside Inn — now owned by daughter Erin Thiem — and longtime planning commissioner said she decided to run because “I love this town.”
“I’m retired now,” Phelps said. “I have a strong sense of community, and I feel like I want to give back.”
Phelps said she has lived in her home for 25 years and raised her children there, adding that now she enjoys having her grandchildren live right across
In 1997, she bought what was then the Airway Motel on Broad Street and began renovating it.
“The place was a wreck,” she said, adding that she opened as the Outside Inn a year later and ran the popular motel for 13 years before turning it over to Thiem.
Phelps said she became interested in planning issues because she opposed an 82-room hotel that was being considered for a parcel on Hollow Way, right off the Gold Flat Road exit, in 2000.
“I didn’t oppose the project, I opposed the number of rooms,” she said. “It was not that we didn’t want a hotel; we believed 50 rooms or 60 rooms was more reasonable and appropriately sized.”
The hotel project was approved, but the hotel did not get built because the land was toxic, Phelps said.
“It was a spilling ground for the stamping mill that was there (in) the 19th century,” she said. “The ground was so full of arsenic and other chemicals, they weren’t allowed to build.”
The fight spurred Phelps’ interest in local politics and she accepted an appointment to the planning commission, serving from 2000 to 2012.
“When the economy was stronger, there was a lot more controversy” on the commission, she said.
“I would say the biggest battle we fought and won was (approving the) cohousing (project on West Broad Street) in 2005,” Phelps said. “People don’t like things that are different, so there definitely was opposition to it. That was the accomplishment I am most proud of.”
Phelps was on the planning commission when it initially approved the controversial boardwalk on Commercial Street in 2011.
“I was part of the approval process of the boardwalk,” she said.
“I approved it with the condition that the approval not be permanent, that it was an approval that we would review.
“I think it’s been successful in what it’s tried to do,” Phelps continued.
The problem of loiterers has always been a discussion in the community, she said.
“Always, in downtown Nevada City, we’ve had issues with loitering,” she said. “Have we resolved them? … It’s just an issue of what happens downtown — we just move them around.”
Phelps, who lives in one of the oldest houses in town, said she considers historical integrity to be the city’s number-one issue.
She listed public safety as her next major concern, highlighting the funds that became available when voters passed Measure L.
A dedicated hiker, cyclist and swimmer, Phelps said her experience can help the city continue to successfully manage its extensive open space lands.
“I love everything recreational,” she said. “I am a supporter of all recreational opportunities — let’s put it that way.”
Her dozen years in city government will stand her in good stead if she gets elected to the city council, she said.
“I consider myself a workhorse,” Phelps said. “I’m not a grandstander. I’m a smart workhorse, I do my homework, I listen to the community, and I will make my decision after getting that input.”
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4229.
“My goal is to listen to needs of the community and do the best job I can to work with everyone in Nevada City. I am running for city council because I love this town, and I have the time, energy and experience to handle the tasks at hand. I want to give something back.”