A Landscape Full of Stories > Doc Dachtler
“We always thought he was running from the draft like a lot of people were then. One time came down a snowstorm, and I’d say, ‘God, Doug, what are you doing out today?” He would say, “Well, I was okay, but my cat was sick of eating oatmeal.'”
An Excerpt from the Interview
Doc Dachtler: Steve Sanfield and I were next-door neighbors for years. When I built my house, we lived next door to each other and became real close friends. But, not at first. Not at first. So he built his house there, and I think it was ’69 maybe, and then my first wife and I bought this piece of land that bordered him to the north. So, then I had heard he was there building a house, so I thought I’d go up and introduce myself. So I did, and we talked a little bit, and I said well, I’m thinking we’ll build a house down here on this piece of land we just bought. So Steve says… “Okay,” he says, ”Just don’t build it where I can see it.” I’m thinking, “Who the hell are you?” So I don’t think I talked to him for, like, two years… Then after we built the house and stuff, we became excellent friends. But it did not start out in a good way.
NCSCC: Can he see your house?
Doc Dachtler: No, I didn’t built it where he could see it — which is probably a good thing actually — because there was a place right on top of the hill where you could see into the valley and into the southern buttes, but it would’ve been a very windy, exposed location. It would not have been a good location to build, and I probably wouldn’t have built it there.
NCSCC: So he unknowingly did you a favor?
Doc Dachtler: He probably did. Unknowingly, yes, he probably did. Made me site it somewhere else.
Doc Dachtler: We had these big, fluorescent lights on chains that hung down from the school [Ed. note: Doc was teaching at the North Columbia Schoolhouse]. And one winter day, this huge storm came up like it blows and rains here. It was just before lunch, I was reading to the kids, and this huge puff of wind hit the building. And it made all kinds of noise. The building made all kinds of noise. And I was sitting next to the wall reading, and I could see the wall move. I could see the wall move. And I thought the place was going to fall over. I really thought the place was going to fall over.
And then I stopped and all the kids went whoa, look. It just slammed it. And so all these lights were swaying on these chains back and forth. And after a minute, I got the yard stick and I measured how far the lights were swaying, because that tells you how far the building moved at the top. It wracked over like that and the lights just swayed back and forth. Nine inches was the sway of the lights. So I said this is a good math lesson here. You can measure (the force). So the next school board meeting I said hey, listen, if we get a big windstorm like this again I’m probably going to call school off and take the kids home… I thought the place was going over. I really did.
Doc Dachtler: The last connection I had (to the Ridge) was a political one. Gene Covert became a supervisor, served a couple of terms, and then he appointed me to the county planning commission from the 5th district, which was the Ridge and also included Truckee. It was kind of a gerrymandering thing, because, when they redistrict, nobody wants to represent the Ridge. So they stuck us with Truckee. And then when they did that later, they stuck us with Wildwood, right? I mean that’s the way it’s been. It’s make more sense for us to be connected maybe to Nevada City, but anyway, that’s the politics of it.
So I went on the planning commission and we were doing the general plan for 1980, which was a total revision of the general plan. So sitting on the planning commission, I worked really hard to… well, you don’t get much success there… It was just at the height of a lot of speculative real estate – not development, but lot splitting, land splitting down into smaller parcels, which you could then sell. And then there was this flood of applications to get land split up before the new general plan came in, because the new general plan might not be as beneficial to breaking up property as the old one. So there was just this flood of subdivision (applications). And I kept saying, “Hey, let’s not do any of them.” Let’s just tell them wait until we get the general plan, then you can subdivide. Let’s figure out how we want to see this county developed before we (do this). But you know, it didn’t (work). There was this flood – and they cranked them out. And I voted against every one of them pretty much. Not every one of them, because I didn’t want to seem like I was totally prejudiced, but almost every one of them.
So then when it came to the Ridge, you don’t have too many tools. But one of them that you have is you have lot sizes, and you have commercial zoning. And so I tried to get as big a lot size as I could for the Ridge, and that’s why you see a lot of AG-40s, AG-30s. These are like 40-acre minimums. That’s pretty restrictive. You’ve got 40 acres. Well, then they were going to put five acres of commercial at Mother Truckers, and they were going to put three acres of commercial here, and they were going to put three acres I think at the country store. And I said no, we don’t need that much commercial. I went to the Coughlans, I said you guys want commercial here? They said no, we don’t want commercial. I said you can axe that off. The country store can have what it’s got and Mother Truckers can have what it’s got, and if anybody wants to develop more commercial then you can get a general plan amendment and you can jump through the hoops.
So that’s why if any place in the county has not changed much in terms of commercial development and lot sizes, it’s the Ridge. I mean a lot of it was split up before the general plan, but in terms of the rest of the county, it’s like night and day. And then about 1980 I moved away for a couple of years, so that was kind of the last real connection I had with the Ridge.