Lorraine Reich: A look into the future – Nevada City 2030
Starting with the 2020 elections when Nevada City voted in a slate of forward-looking leaders, times have truly been looking up for little Nevada City, the little gem of a historic gold mining town located in the heart of the Sierra Foothills.
Today, in 2030, business is booming: Ever since the city partnered with Tintle Construction over the retrofitting and renovations of the old Alpha Building, Nevada City has seen a surge in revenue from new retail outlets and galleries occupying the upper floor of the Alpha Building at the foot of Broad Street. Not only does the flagship business “Yuba River Deli & Bakery” have a constant stream of business, as does the “Nevada City Mercantile” but the open common area is now the town’s popular year-round meeting spot with tables, chairs, Wi-Fi and the welcoming Nevada City vibe to all visitors.
The cannabis industry is also booming. Since the city’s cannabis ordinances were enacted there has been a surge of business related to both recreational and medicinal products. Visitors come from all over the U.S. to experience this progressive town’s “Boutique Cannabis” including vintage varieties, tinctures, salves, balms, and much more. The city’s progressive stance on cannabis has also permitted a number of manufacturing labs and businesses.
Homeless: Over the past 10 years Nevada City has put itself on the map as one of America’s model communities, addressing the homeless population with direct and humane treatment and services. The “Nevada City Welcoming Center,” located on the city lot across from Hospice Thrift Store, helps individuals, couples and families transition from homeless to home secure through the Welcoming Center’s 20-plus units of temporary shelters (upgraded Tuff Sheds), the day use facility — complete with community kitchen, showers and bathrooms, plus a plethora of services, including mental health, substance abuse, employment and more.
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Housing: As more and more residents opened their homes and second units to visitors, and less housing was available for local “working class” residents, city leaders revamped zoning laws, which opened doors to apartment building development. Now along High Street, there are a total of six three- and four-story apartment buildings, each with 10-plus units and subterranean parking. Coupled with the city’s new rent control ordinance those 50-plus units remain affordable for younger generations and seniors on fixed incomes. Another 30-unit apartment building was approved at the corner of Ridge Road and Searls Avenue, expected to break ground in 2031.
The Old Airport: Back in 2020 there was talk about installing a solar farm at the location up Bloomfield and Piper Lane (about 1 mile out of town). However, the neighbors in that area, plus many townsfolk complained there wasn’t enough open land for recreation in Nevada City, and that it would be a shame to use it for a solar farm. So, hearing the majority of citizens wishing for open parkland, the site has become one of the area’s popular hiking spots. The views are spectacular from hiking up around the Old Airport.
Nevada City Energy Independent: Instead of using the Old Airport for a solar farm, another location was found. Thanks to the city’s forward-looking planners working with Caltrans, the state, the county and developers, the city constructed a huge solar farm above Highway 20/49 from the Ridge Road Exit east half a mile. Not much change was needed for the highway, which runs in the tunnel created after the solar farm was constructed on top. The solar farm provides 100% of Nevada City’s electric needs.
Parking: No longer a big deal to merrymakers wanting to attend numerous public festivals, parades and events, ever since the multi-level parking structure was built on Spring Street behind the National Hotel. That added 120 parking spaces. In addition, ever since the public “Goldminer’s Express” shuttle service expanded its fleet there is a constant flow of buses transporting visitors from the Rood Center, and from the new parking lot at Highway 49 and Manzanita Diggins, every 10 minutes. The buses are fun to ride in with their 49ers gold mining motif and decor, complete with maps to mines and tourist information available during the short ride.
Sugarloaf Cable Car: Anyone who has visited Rio de Janeiro is familiar with the cable ride taking 20 riders at a time up the 1,100 foot Sugarloaf Mountain above Guanabara Bay where the views are spectacular. Nevada City leaders created the “Nevada City Sugarloaf Mountain Cable Car,” carrying visitors 100 feet off the ground to rise high above Nevada City to the Sugarloaf Mountain Park and Viewing Station. Visitors come from far and wide for the ride, the serene landscape and view. At $10 for adults, $8 for senior and student discounts, it paid for itself within five years of operation.
Monorail: Connecting Nevada City and Grass Valley since the early 2020s, leaders saw many benefits to encourage its population out of cars and to use public transportation. We are now 50% complete on the first leg of the “Nevada County Connection,” our electric powered monorail, with one stop at Brunswick. The line runs above Highway 49/20, and with the assistance of Caltrans not much highway construction was necessary, except for the passenger stations and ramps. The line will eventually run to Colfax, Auburn and to Truckee. Tickets are $5, with round trips at $7. The monorail will pay for itself within 10 years. Of course, Nevada City and Grass Valley also each provide public bicycles, scooters, and battery operated golf carts to get around.
Functional City Council: Perhaps the best development occurred when Councilwoman Lorraine Reich was elected in 2020, not only because she spearheaded many of these projects, but with her mediation skills she brought professionalism and civility back to the City Council chambers. In addition, with Ms. Reich’s legal skills the city saved substantial sums from paying legal fees to outside attorneys.
Lorraine Reich is a candidate for Nevada City Council. Contact her at LReich2020@gmail.com.
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