We tend to see “development” and “bad development” as synonymous. This is largely a legitimate conclusion in Washoe County. Bad development can bring bad traffic, flooding, school overcrowding, environmental degradation, water insecurity, fire hazard, and loss of outdoor recreation. Bad development impacts the new homebuyers as well. They may be part of the problem, but they are victims too. The Washoe County Planning Commission (backed by the County Commission) has allowed zoning variations and permitted violations of plans and guidelines to allow the bad developments to proceed. They have compounded this by ignoring CAB recommendations and public comment. Talking to our commissioners, I get the impression they feel obliged to guarantee the developers’ profits. They will accept higher housing density and noncompliances to this end. The commissioners seem to accept that development is detrimental to homeowners and that they should accept the loss.
But, it does not have to be that way. Road improvements, flood mitigation, school development and low-impact design can result in new developments that benefit existing residents. How about some playgrounds and bike paths and community centers? Good development is possible, and we must insist on it. Once the majority of the Great Basin is paved and suffering gridlock, it’s too late to enforce our standards.
We are derided as NIMBY’s (Not In My Backyard), an acronym promoted by the real estate associations. I respond that this is not true: we want our standards enforced.