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Council explores naming new streets

Currently developers are left to the task
By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
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City Council wants more say in the names given to streets in new developments in Auburn.

At a meeting Monday night, the Auburn council voted unanimously to pass along a list of potential names of roads in the Baltimore Ravine development to the Streetscape History and Arts Advisory Council. The Baltimore Ravine project will include 725 new homes and will house 1,769 Auburn residents.

Under current city ordinance a developer would be solely responsible for naming the streets.

Mayor Kevin Hanley said there are six to eight streets that might need to be named and that he would like to see those names reflect Auburn's past.

"Consistent with honoring our history we would direct the SHAAC to consider those residents of Auburn who have done something substantial for the community," Hanley said.

Monday's agenda included a list of 10 potential names that could be considered for the new streets. It included Beecher, for Mark Beecher, or "Klondike Ike," who established the Auburn Community Foundation. It also included Eulalie, after Auburn's Mary Fay "Eulalie" Shannon, who was California's first female poet.

Hanley said the developer of Baltimore Ravine had not been contacted with the idea yet, but would be in the near future after Councilwoman Bridget Powers voiced concern over the developer's ability to name the streets within a specific vision or theme.

"I just see some controversy coming from this without communicating with the people who are creating those streets," Powers said.

But other council members did not feel that way. A memo from Hanley to council members states that if a developer is not in tune with a town's history "boring and generic names like ‘Birch Avenue'" can be attached to a road indefinitely.

Councilman Dr. Bill Kirby was in full favor of the idea.

"The concept is a strong one, especially for a historic city like Auburn," Kirby said. "I don't care about a developer's likes or dislikes; it's our town and our streets."

In addition to contacting the developer of Baltimore Ravine, the council decided to change the mayor's original proposal to not include any names of people who are still living and to potentially include street names that are more than one word.

The idea to list the potential street names in the Auburn Journal for public input was also quashed. Michael Otten, president of the Placer County Historical Society, spoke to the council and said those with a background in the area's history should have the biggest hand in the matter because they are more aware of Auburn's important figures.

"I would not make this a popularity contest in the Auburn Journal," Otten said.

While Hanley reached out to the Auburn Journal last week, Editor Jenifer Gee said the newspaper never petitioned, requested or agreed to be part of the process and was surprised to see it as an agenda item.

"I agreed to meet with Mayor Hanley to learn more about what he was hoping to do in regard to a new process for naming streets, but I made no commitment on the paper's behalf to be a part of it," Gee said. "The newspaper better serves the community to report on actions its public officials take rather than be a part of the actual process. The Journal will continue to report on the development of the street naming proposal, but will not hold a vote for the name or names of streets nor did it ever indicate that it would."

Contact Amber Marra at amberm@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.