Growth dominates commission candidates discussion |

Growth dominates commission candidates discussion

by Scott Murphy,Staff Writer

Commission candidates and incumbents spoke Wednesday almost exclusively about growth issues impacting Carson Valley during a breakfast forum that helped launch the campaign season.

Commissioners Jacques Etchegoyhen and Don Miner face Michael Hayes and Tim Smith, respectively in November.

The Business Council of Douglas County’s meeting was held one day after District Court Judge David Gamble removed the Sustainable Growth Initiative from the Nov. 5 ballot.

If approved by voters, the ballot initiative would have limited construction of new dwelling units in Carson Valley to 280 per year.

County Commission Chairman Don Miner, who favored the growth initiative’s removal from the ballot, said a capital improvements plan will be examined by the county commission during the next year.

The CIP is one of two steps required by the county’s master plan before commissioners can consider a building permit allocation system, which is similar to the growth cap initiative.

Miner and Smith did not speak about limiting new housing construction in Carson Valley.

Smith said he is running because he enjoys being a leader and has enjoyed serving as TahoeDDouglas fire chief, the position he’s retiring from at the end of this year.

Smith has lived in Tahoe since the 1960s and recently moved to Genoa.

Smith and Hayes both agreed they are not vastly different from the incumbents they are trying to oust.

“It’s not that I have complete opposite views from (Miner),” Smith said. “The destination could be the same. But the journey wouldn’t be.

Douglas County Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen said he wants to consider a permit allocation system using information gathered by the county.

Hayes, who supported the SGI, said he favors a growth cap, preferably around 2 percent.

Hayes, a retired Los Angeles firefighter and 15 year resident, said he’s concerned the Valley uses about 80 percent of its annual water supply each year.

“If growth isn’t the issue, then water is,” Hayes said.

Hayes said Douglas County can choose its future and avoid cookie-cutter urbanization.

He said after making recommendations to the board as a member of the planning commission for eight years, he wants now to implement policy.

To measure the impact of growth and determine what improvements need to be added, Hayes wants to do a state level inventory of the various “service areas” in the county to determine how well the county is providing service and what needs to be done, he said.

Etchegoyhen said he would run for re-election on his record and said after eight years it should be clear to constituents how he votes on various projects.

One Business Council member asked Etchegoyhen, who is the Nevada director of the San FranciscoDbased American Land Conservancy, whether he votes for himself or “for his employer” when issues are decided.

“I vote on the merits of each project,” Etchegoyhen said.

Etchegoyhen defended the American Land Conservancy and said conservatives such as former U. S. Senator Paul Laxalt are members.

“Paul Laxalt is one of the most conservative people on the planet,” Etchegoyhen said.

n Staff Writer Scott Murphy can be reached via e-mail at