Land Use Alternatives and Climate Action Plan Element Progress

Two major components of the Truckee 2040 General Plan Update made great progress last month and are moving forward: selection of a Preferred Land Use Alternative and review of a new draft Climate Action Plan Element.

For background, the Town has been engaged in a General Plan Update process since early 2018. A general plan is a policy document which provides a long-term framework for future development in a given jurisdiction – every city, town, and county in California is required to have one. Truckee’s general plan represents our community’s view of its future and contains goals and policies upon which elected officials, appointed commissioners, and staff base their decisions. The 2040 General Plan update process provides our community the opportunity to shape future growth in a manner that reflects our community’s values.

The Truckee 2040 General Plan will contain nine chapters called “elements,” each containing goals, policies, and programs designed to implement the community vision and address the issues and opportunities facing the Town through 2040. Since commencement of the update process, Town staff has worked closely with a land use consultant (Ascent Environmental) and the General Plan Advisory Committee (a 19-member volunteer committee appointed by the Council to represent community interests) to complete initial phases of the General Plan Update. These phases included project initiation, drafting of an Existing Conditions Report, and visioning exercises to craft guiding principles and goals for the new General Plan. The Town’s  has focused current efforts on two major components of the General Plan: the Land Use Alternatives process and drafting of a new Climate Action Plan element.

Land Use Alternatives Process

The Land Use Alternatives process is an examination of potential changes to the General Plan Land Use Map, which guides land use and development patterns in Truckee. The goal of the land use alternatives process is to determine the appropriate location, density, and intensity of residential, commercial, mixed residential/commercial, open space, institutional and industrial uses to reflect the community’s vision and need for a 20-year planning horizon. The update involves identification of preferred alternatives to the existing map to ensure that the desired community vision and development patterns will be achieved over 20-year horizon, ultimately resulting in an updated Land Use Map.

The land use alternatives process began in the Fall of 2019. Working with the GPAC (General Plan Advisory Committee) and the Ascent Environmental consultant team, the Town identified five focus areas for potential land use changes based on the existing general plan, development patterns, and input from the community and the GPAC. Focus areas included Donner Lake, Gateway area/Donner Pass Road, North State Route 89, West River, and Glenshire/Eastern town limits. The Town prepared preliminary land use alternatives for each focus area, analyzing a range of modified land use and development patterns for each area. The Town also identified and evaluated six “townwide alternatives” (i.e. land use map options) each of which is comprised of varying combinations of the focus area alternatives. All of this is summarized in a Land Use Alternatives Briefing Book. Staff then collected GPAC and community input on the preliminary land use alternatives through meetings, in-person and web-based workshops, and surveys through August of this year. See results for the August 3rd open house here and results for the online survey here.

Using the 2040 General Plan draft vision and priorities identified by the GPAC as a guiding framework, Town staff synthesized feedback on the preliminary land use alternatives and prepared staff recommendations for each of the focus areas for consideration by the Planning Commission. Staff requested that the Planning Commission provide their feedback in piecing together a preferred townwide alternative. At two meetings on October 19th and 25th, the Planning Commission reviewed the staff report and participated in robust conversation around each of the focus areas. Some consensus was reached in a few areas but feedback was overall relatively varied amongst Commissioners.

On November 15, 2021, the Town Council reviewed public comment, the Planning Commission’s recommendation, and the staff recommendation and came to consensus on the preferred land use alternative. The Town Council’s land use alternative includes consideration of increasing densities and intensities in the Gateway area, incorporating mixed use in commercial nodes at Donner Lake and Glenshire, and maintaining opportunities for industrial uses on West River Street. The Town Council was focused on increasing community-oriented housing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to ensure a sustainable future. With this direction from the Council, staff and the consultants can begin work on the environmental review analysis and draft policies and programs for incorporation into the General Plan update.

For more information on the Land Use Alternatives process, tune in to the November 15th Special Council Meeting or visit

Climate Action Plan Element

Another exciting component of the General Plan Update is the addition of a Climate Action Plan element to the list of elements (chapters) included in Truckee’s next General Plan. The existing 2025 General Plan currently does not contain a chapter focused on goals and policies related to sustainability initiatives, so this new element is a needed and highly-anticipated new addition.

The Climate Action Plan (CAP) provides a roadmap for reducing community-wide emissions, one of the Town Council’s key goals. . Holistically, these strategies not only combat climate change but also endeavor to create a resilient, equitable and healthy Truckee community. 

The Climate Action Plan is the culmination of an intensive and highly participatory, community-driven process. Beginning in 2019, the GPAC created a Climate Action Subcommittee group to help guide the creation of policies. Discussions from these subcommittee meetings helped create and prioritize policies and actions related to transportation, land use, energy use, and waste. The consultant team, working with Town Staff, then refined and organized these strategies into the Climate Action Plan Element and a Technical Appendix, which quantifies anticipated greenhouse gas reductions for each suite of actions.  

On October 28th, the GPAC reviewed and discussed the draft Climate Action Plan Element. Town staff and the consultant will update the draft to address GPAC’s comments and modifications may be made to ensure consistency across all elements. Ultimately, the Planning Commission and Town Council will review the CAP as part of the entire draft General Plan document.  Stay tuned and track the CAP’s progress at