Media Life: 5 Things Guaranteed to Shake Up Auburn

Placer High closure, Foresthill Bridge bungee drop, Highway 49 zen zone in the future?
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at

or 530-852-0232. Thomson is a state and national award-winning reporter who writes for the Auburn Journal.


These headlines haven’t made the Auburn Journal yet and may never reach your driveway, phone or computer screen in any Auburn Journal edition.

But take a moment to consider Auburn today and where it could be in another 20, 30 or even 50 years.

Look back on the distant past and you’ll find a very different Auburn that the one we know in 2018.

Now look forward, with these headlines at an Auburn of the future that may or may not come to pass.



Combine a deep-pockets developer and enough votes at the city and school board level. Add in a campus with growing pains - both in size and tech limitations - and a move to the sprawling Placer County Government Center in North Auburn. The North Auburn site would even come complete with a swimming pool.

What could replace Placer High?

The art deco buildings are irreplaceable and should be saved.

With the housing market creating increasing demand, the school’s classrooms could be targeted for repurposing as upscale condominiums. The campus is underutilized during almost three months of the year and little-used on weekends. Drop in 100 or so condos and you have a thriving, vibrant addition of new people to the core of the community - plus an increased tax base for the city and a more customers year-round for nearby businesses.



If President Donald Trump and North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un can get together in a meaningful way, why not Auburn’s business frenemies.

It may not be Nobel Peace prize worthy but the real winners could just be the merchants in Old Town and Downtown.

Picture one big, successful marketing vision under the “Old Town” banner instead of two smaller efforts that can tend to confuse rather than attract.

Why “Old Town” and not “Downtown?” It comes down to coming to terms with the very real fact that both of the business districts are “old towns” now.



Less a shameless tourist draw than a quirky solution to what is becoming an increasingly problematic dilemma in the American River canyon. Parking spaces are packed on peak days and there’s no letup in sight as the confluence grows as a regional attraction. So why not capture some of those visitor dollars at the top of the canyon rim, offering parking, shopping in the newly re-christened Old Town and a cool, air-conditioned drop into the Auburn State Recreation Area’s scenic wonderland?



Take a deep breath, get your chakras in alignment and consider this one.

Highway 49 from Interstate 80 to Dry Creek Road is a drive that invariably takes you on a journey more akin to navigating the Bermuda Triangle than putting you in your happy place.

So why not change that proactively by creating the world’s first automotive Zen Zone.

Calming signs along the highway would welcome you with reminders to “Take Your Time and Relax,” “Be At Peace With The Road,” “Smile at Your Fellow Drivers - We’re All on the Same Path.” and maybe even “Be Happy You’re Not On Highway 65.”

The Highway 49 business community could get a needed boost from new age enterprises jumping onto the zen bandwagon.

And the bonus would be cheerier customers.



If you haven’t walked it, you’re missing a scenic experience that is one of the Auburn area’s finest, with views along the Stagecoach Trail into the American River canyon to die for.

The adventuresome quotient could be ramped up considerably with the addition of a zip line between the top of the former stagecoach route and the canyon.

And while Media Life looks deeper into the crystal ball, what about the World’s Longest Bungee Jump?

Yep. At 730 feet to the canyon floor from the Foresthill Bridge, people would pay top dollar to take a tethered leap off the fourth-highest span in the nation.

A weekend-only closure of one lane of the bridge would keep weekday commuters between Auburn and Foresthill happy. And Auburn would provide another world-class destination for Placer County’s burgeoning tourism industry of the future.

It’s Auburn’s future and it’s in your hands. Do we stand pat, move with the shifting tide or make our own moves. Is Auburn bound for future success or will the community blow it? Stick around and in 50 years, you’ll find out.   

Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at or 530-852-0232. Thomson is a state and national award-winning reporter who writes for the Auburn Journal.