Rebecca Dow has plan to revitalize downtowns

When Rebecca Dow decided to run for the state House of Representatives, she drove around her sprawling district and saw run-down vacant buildings in communities, often in or near downtowns.

Dow, a Republican from Truth or Consequences, is now serving her first term in the House, and she has a plan to get businesses into those shuttered buildings instead of signing leases for newer properties on the outskirts of small towns.

Under House Bill 250 — the first bill sponsored by Dow — communities with populations of less than 50,000 would be permitted to grant variances from state building codes for commercial buildings if there is no impact on health and safety.

“Across our state, in our rural areas, there are vacant buildings in the downtown areas,” Dow told a House committee Thursday. “They’re vacant and they’re vandalized. We have great opportunity here for someone to open a business and help in the beautification of a downtown area.”

Some trade union representatives spoke against the bill, saying there is no definition of what type of variances would be allowed. Unless health and safety requirements can be clarified, the public might be at risk, they said.

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Sierra County citizens interested in commenting on the proposal on should contact their elected officials: