Michael Taylor: Creating a sustainable future amidst adversity
These unprecedented times require unprecedented action from Nevada County’s Board of Supervisors.
Our local leaders need to shift their approach and should be working hard to keep the public participating in their conversations. Now more than ever, we need public input, public involvement, and public participation. It’s going to be impossible for the Board to create solutions if they aren’t fully willing to listen to and understand what the community’s going through.
Together, we, the members of this beautiful community, have an opportunity to rise together to create solutions that will address the current health emergency!
Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, our supervisors seem willing to make decisions on their own with limited public input (https://bit.ly/NC-BOS-March-24-2020). The board’s initial request that public comments be submitted by email, U.S. Mail, or through the County’s eComment system prior to their meeting severely limited constituents’ ability to participate. That being said, things are rapidly shifting and seem to be moving in a more positive direction. As of March 23, the board advised that if you wish to comment on a specific agenda item as it is being heard, you’re now able to submit a comment in real-time through their eComment system (https://bit.ly/NC-BOS-March2020). I’d like to see our Supervisors using even more modern technologies, such as Zoom, to further keep remote meetings open to real-time participation.
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Additionally, given the rapid speeds at which the current coronavirus crisis is progressing, we, the community, need to be given the opportunity to not only make our voices heard, but also be kept current with the decisions of the board. How often is the board meeting to mitigate what’s to come? What public input and oversight protocols are they following since they’ll undoubtedly be making decisions that will directly affect our community? What are their daily, weekly, monthly and yearly proposals that clearly present how we’re going to create solutions for the health and economic welfare of our community?
If the PG&E Public Safety Power Shut-offs (PSPS) were any indication of how fragile Nevada County’s health and economic welfare is, we know that the coronavirus is going to have far worse effects. Now more than ever, we need out-of-the-box solutions to help us navigate the impending economic situation that we’ll be facing. What proactive steps can we make that will boost our economy and provide immediate financial solutions for residents?
Instead of instilling smart and healthy growth in our community, which would have put us in a much better position to handle this outbreak, our community leaders have consistently chosen a strategy of prolonged economic stagnation. We may not have all the solutions now, but if we’re to have a strong economic future, we can’t approach things with the same no-growth mentality that the County has had for the past decade.
Recently, the County has suggested taxing its way out of this by raising fees for commercial and residential development (http://bit.ly/NC-residential-commericial-tax-2020). The Town of Truckee and Nevada County are also considering placing new taxes on the November ballot to generate funds for affordable housing and fire preparedness (https://bit.ly/TruckeeTax2020, https://bit.ly/NCTax2020-FirePreparedness).
I know there are other sustainable solutions that don’t involve creating new taxes. For example, if the supervisors created programs or lowered fees to support and approve development plans for the construction of the approximately 5,000 additional homes our local housing experts suggest we needed between 2009 to present, the 1% tax that would have been generated on the assessed value of those homes could be as high as $25,000,000 per year. If the county had been proactively working towards healthy growth and had built these approximately 5,000 homes needed during this past decade, we’d have built up around $250,000,000 in revenue.
With sustainable county surpluses, reserves, or substantial general funds, the county would be in a position to waive property taxes for the year 2020 and/or return already paid taxes to residents in support of those who’ve lost their jobs and property owners who’ll be losing rent income for who knows how long. The county still can make this happen by restoring community trust between Nevada County residents and the Community Development Agency. The current climate of distrust is deep-rooted and needs to be seriously addressed at all levels so we can move forward and ultimately boost our local economy, which will benefit the county’s bottom line.
Warm weather and beautiful days will be here before we know it, and the coronavirus will pass too. In the meantime, let’s stimulate the construction industry, waive fees, develop programs supportive of building smaller homes, etc. Let’s work together to create immediate economic solutions that maintain or stimulate growth and encourage the county to make it easier for new businesses to come online. I’d like to see the county step up in a big way to help businesses through this time of incredible instability and hardship.
In the face of this public health emergency, let’s all work together to stave off worst-case scenarios, make moves towards smart, sustainable growth, and put an end to Nevada County’s economic stagnation.
I’m more passionate than ever about improving the economic and housing trajectory of Nevada County. If you feel strongly about issues related to providing immediate and long-term financial relief to residents, please reach out to me by email at email@example.com.
I’m working to build a coalition of concerned citizens. Together, we’ll ensure our voices get heard in Nevada County.
Michael Taylor lives in Nevada County.
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