Jim Porter, Senior Partner of Porter Simon called Sierra Valley the “most beautiful valley in the State,” and stressed how lucky to have the influx of Truckee folks trying to go up here.
Jim had each person introduce themselves and moderators, Ted Owens, Mike Filippini and Katie Shaffer.
Ted had moved to Truckee in 1989, in construction with his dad and has served as executive director on the Planning Department, the Town Council and as Nevada County Supervisor. He resides in Randolph, which had to be described as up by Willow Street in Sierraville. He questioned, “How’s Randolph show up on Google maps?” Ted had moved to Sierra County five and one-half years ago and further explained about Sierra County, as having Placer County to the south with 300,000 residents; Nevada County with its 98,000 residents and Sierra County with its 2,700 residents, eclipsed only by Alpine County. He said people tend to forget Verdi and called the county, “unique.” Like many, he said, he enjoys hiking the Lakes Basin, the Buttes, Graeagle. He called it an easy move to live here. He shared that the commute was shorter than to Nevada City, he has Care Flight yet questioned how many police are here and stated help could be an hour away. He moved here “not to change but to join it.” He loves the history and sentiment, how people wave to one another and his best part is how he can go hunting in the north valley and not drive. “I would not move back,” he stated. He described two types of noise; the creek and cattle as they’re moved in and out. He gave a shout out for Tour de Manure.
Mike Filippini, life long resident of Sierra Valley is a former teacher and administrator and now serves on the planning commission. Despite its low number of residents, he called it a “complicated place.” He focused on cows and kids.
He told how, no matter where you come in to Sierra Valley, it’s beautiful and usually unpopulated on the valley floor with snow-topped mountains all around. He told how that valley floor is held by large blocks of agriculture interests. Small ranches have been consolidated raising hay alfalfa primarily and cows are trucked in and out with those cattle the backbone of the county’s economy. State regulation, he said, was not all that good and offers strict money issues. He told how they have to contend with environmental pressures and cattle are not popular, as they soil water and make gas.
On water, he described how Independence Lake’s good flow diverts off Little Truckee and goes to Sierra Valley and how his ranch has to belong to a water company and there are lawsuits, ditch repairs, the Clear Water Act and various costs, discharge requirements, testing, monitoring and legal management. He stated water management fees paid by individual users exceed $300,000. The profit margin is shorter and shorter and forces the sale to larger operations and lose character.
He told how ranchers who don’t want development but can’t keep the land go with conservation easements and sell the right to development not to develop and he told drawbacks of agendas with specific restrictions such as grazing restricted to protect wetlands. California environmental laws discourage some.
Mike would like to see the communities more vibrant and called Downieville “almost not there,” with its school too small. He called a healthy community as healthy schools and told of it changing “a little bit with young families willing to commute.” He was optimistic despite Reno adding a lot of pressure and the subdivision in Bordertown, which will make the trip to Reno more difficult but may bring balanced growth with more kids in school.
Katie, CEO/founder of East River Public Relations has won two Silver Spike awards and is a Sierra Valley organizer. She and her husband are renovating a 1881 farmhouse in Sierraville.
Katie gave a power point presentation of her website, sierraville.org. She has been a Sierra Valley “on and off property owner” for 17 years and has sold eight houses, commuting daily to Truckee and did not enroll her daughter in local schools due to a variance for her volleyball. She described her husband as a “farm boy” and how the ag nature of the community spoke to him. They build homes as a side project and the district fees and housing are more affordable in Sierra Valley. She knows forty families who have made the move from Truckee. She romanced the seeing of satellites moving overhead, the stark beauty, walking to five viable wonderful businesses and getting Chia tea. She said her property had been planted over 100 years with black cottonwoods; one of the largest known and the Quince are now blossoming. She described buying fresh eggs on the honor system and called the post office “awesome” with free postal boxes. She described her daily ride as “25 minutes door to door absolutely gorgeous,” yet with no cell service passing three summits and calling the road “treacherous.”
Of issue, she told of properties fallen into disrepair. Katie started the Sierraville Community Foundation and told of her work in holding a meeting to do public outreach and mobilized into action, Sierra County Planning Director Tim Beals and Supervisor Paul Roen in 2015 with 42 people. A second community meeting took on the condition of the creek and took advantage of a free dump. What she described as the “ghost ship,” she told of broken glass, a septic not working well and “vehicles rotting into the ground.” She has dealt with hazmat and gotten trucking donated, named Dan Wentling and organized a cleanup with another the first Saturday in June in time for the fabulous Tour de Manure. In addition, there are cemetery clean ups and she told how neighbors “feel good” with community potlucks.
Her vision for Sierraville is to restore it to its former glory and to see younger families moving here, mostly to Calpine and Loyalton where she knows of a number of younger couples. The move offers more affordable housing yet she hopes they don’t want housing tracts and she “loves kids riding bikes.”
Additional speakers, Tim Beals and former Assessor Bill Copren didn’t show and it was hoped they didn’t experience a misfortune on Highway 89.