Reno Denies Daybreak Development

Last night, the Reno City Council denied the rezoning proposal for the Daybreak development on the Butler Ranch property between Damonte Ranch and Hidden Valley.  This is a large plan for 4700 homes mostly situated in a flood plane.

While the developer made a pointed argument that they had a mitigation plan to address the flooding, the executive director of the Truckee River Flood Management Authority (Jay Aldean) said that issues he raised with the developer have not been addressed.  Given this, he could not say their flood mitigation plan was adequate.

The issue of bad traffic on Mira Loma presently was a concern as well as what the development will do to traffic on South Meadows Parkway.  Traffic studies have not been done yet for these highways.

Councilwoman Weber was the sole advocate to move forward despite the concerns.  Her position was that the housing crisis demanded immediate action.

Delgado, Brekhus, Bobzien, Jardon, Duerr, and Weber  Schieve voted against the rezoning.  Apparently, Schieve Weber was the sole “yes” vote for the development (The audio wasn’t clear).

See my notes for more detail; RCC_Daybreak-Meeting_112818A

Accessory Dwelling Units Denied (Reno)

The Reno City Council today considered a proposal to allow “Accessory Dwelling Units” (aka ADU’s) on properties within Reno that meet certain requirements.

Accessory Dwelling Unit requirements:

  • This applies to only single family home properties of at least 9,000 sqft.
  • The ADU must match the style of the residence.  It can only be 12′ tall.
  • Setbacks to the property lines would need to be at least 5′.
  • The ADU could be free standing or attached to the residence.

There are 12,661 properties that would be eligible to add an ADU within Reno.

The Reno Planning Commission denied the proposal unanimously since there is no support in the Re-Imagine Reno plan that would support increasing densities in existing neighborhoods.  The commissioners did suggest revisions in case the City Council wanted to approve the plan.  The September 9 meeting finished after midnight.

Council discussion (disclaimer: statements may not be exactly verbatim);

  • “The American Planning Association supports ADU’s as a way to provide diverse housing options.” (Heather Mansos [sp], City planner)
  • “I’m concerned about changing the character of the neighborhoods and I do not think this will address our affordable housing crisis.” (Mayor Schieve)
  • “Might these be built and used for Air BnB so that they do little to help Reno residents?” (Councilman Jardon)
  • “Will we have waste water treatment capacity if so many new dwellings are approved?” (Councilman Jardon)
  • “Approvals would be required for each one so that there would be the ability to limit the number if needed due to waste water treatment capacity.” (Mansos)
  • Guest quarters are presently allowed.  These are similar to the ADU’s but are not allowed to have a full kitchen. (Mansos)

Public comment was overwhelmingly negative.  Twenty three residents spoke in opposition and 127 additional comment cards were received in opposition.  Most of the speakers were from the Newlands neighborhood with some from Country Club Acres.  They made the following points.

  • ADU’s threaten to spoil the character of the historic neighborhood.
  • The streets are narrow.  Parking is already a problem.
  • Allowing ADU’s is not consistent with the master plan.
  • The older neighborhoods are more vulnerable to fire due to trees and home construction that is not fire retardant.  More dwellings will increase the risk of a fire starting.
  • Code enforcement is already very inadequate.  How will the new ADU’s be controlled?
  • Changing the plan with a “text amendment” is a backdoor way to make such a major change.  We should formally change the zoning.

There were six speakers supporting the ADU proposal.  They made the following points.

  • ADU rent will not be low enough to count as “affordable housing”, but if they cost $800/month, they would be affordable to a worker making $15/hour.
  • There are many seniors that would like to live close to their family members for care and support.  They want a “cottage” close to family.
  • A homeowner with an ADU said the rental income made it possible for his wife to stay at home with their young children.

Following public comment, the discussion went back to Councilman Brekhus.  She made the following points.

  • Reno used to be a working class city, but high housing costs threaten that characteristic to the point that it really is a crisis.
  • Home occupancy has fallen so that there are fewer people living in these older neighborhoods than when they were first built.  It used to average 3.33 persons per home.  The average is now 2.5 persons per home.  So, the addition of ADU’s should not bring a big burden on infrastructure.
  • There are presently duplexes and converted garages in Newlands that have not had a negative impact.
  • It is an expansion of property owner’s rights to be able to build an ADU.
  • Including ADU’s in zoning is a national best practice in terms of urban planning.
  • The size of ADU’s should probably be limited to 500 or 600 sqft.
  • The city might waive the fees for the first ones to get some experience with a limited number of ADU additions and understand the issues.


Comments from the Council;

“I’m concerned about neighborhood character, but I also favor choice.” (Councilman Duerr)

“Perhaps, we could move forward while ‘carving out’ neighborhoods that are opposed.” (Jardon)

“Homeowners should have their property rights and property values protected.  They bought their homes with certain expectations.” (Councilman Weber)

Councilman Brekhus made a motion asking staff to continue to work on the proposal investigating the following issues.

  • How many ADU’s do we think would be built if they were approved?
  • Should we have ‘carve outs’ (exemptions) for certain neighborhoods?
  • How do we handle incompatible CC&R’s?
  • Should we handle the ADU’s with special use permits?

Mayor Schieve proposed affirming the decision of the Planning Commission to oppose the change permitting ADU’s.  This was passed unanimously.

Washoe Citizens Action Network, 12/11

There’s a new county-wide activist group being formed.  Their goal is to inform citizens about development issues and to coordinate action to stop irresponsible development.  This is what grass-roots action looks like.  The invitation below is for all residents of Reno and Washoe County.  Come check it out!

Subject: Had Enough? Get Involved!

Rampant, out of control growth in our county resulting from the decisions of a few local elected officials, unelected bureaucrats and developers—are you aware of the extent and impact of their plans for our communities?  Are you concerned?  Are you ready to do something to stop it?

This is your opportunity.  Join us for the first meeting of the Washoe Citizens Action Network.
Speakers to include:
Jeanne Herman—Washoe County Commissioner, District 5

Mike Lawson—Washoe County Planning Commissioner, District 2
Steve Wolgast–Former County Commissioner candidate and leader of Washoe Residents for Appropriate Planning
Tammy Holt-Still—The “Voice of the Lemmon Valley residents”
Bill Johnson–Former County Commissioner candidate, life-long Reno resident and artist

Topic of conversation will be the current and future plans for the building and growth our county officials, and the developers, have in store for all areas of Washoe County as well as how these plans will affect our quality of life.

DECEMBER 11th, 6:00 PM at the Sparks Masonic Lodge, 2425 Pyramid Way

As noted, this the first meeting of the Washoe Citizens Action Network, we have chosen an issue which has an impact on all residents of the county.  The goal of WashoeCAN is not only to educate and inform, but more importantly for us, the concerned citizens, to engage and effect change regarding the decisions that are being made by local and regional government. 

We will do this by:
1) Regularly convening the WashoeCAN team.
2) Targeting and researching issues.
3) Determining and planning a course of action regarding targeted issues.
4) Attending local legislative/governmental meetings.
5) Speaking and going on the record at such meetings.

The time is now to get involved and act to preserve our values and quality of life here in Washoe County.  Without an active and engaged citizenry, our local government will simply continue on their path of unobstructed growth, dictates and regulations which affect us all.  All are welcome, so please join us to begin the process of a much needed citizens’ check and balance on our local elected and unelected officials.

Brandon Camp
Local Concerned Citizen

Daybreak Development “continued” …

Yesterday, the Reno City Council voted to “continue” the consideration of the Daybreak Development (Butler Ranch area) until their meeting on November 28 at 6:00 PM.  This was a contentious vote passing only with a bare majority (4 to 3).  The developer had requested the continuance this time with the vague excuse that they needed more time to talk to stakeholders about natural resources.  The developer sent out the request for a continuance only hours before the City Council meeting.  This caused confusion.  Some interested residents decided not to go since the continuance was requested, but some came who didn’t hear about the request or who had not heard that it had been granted.

Here are some of the points and highlights.

  • The County Clerk reported that the Council had received 13 letters in opposition to the Daybreak development, 5 letters expressing concern, and 1 letter in support.
  • Councilman Brekhus opposed the continuance: she is ready with her questions and it is time to move forward.  The coming City Council meetings have full agendas.  There is no convenient time to reschedule.
  • Councilman Weber is newly elected and would like a continuance since she is not familiar with the project.
  • Councilman Jardon wants ample time to consider the project; “It’s too big an elephant to consider.”
  • Councilman Brekhus suggested sending the project back to the Planning Commission.  Alternately, it could be considered in a City Council workshop meeting dedicated to the single topic.
  • Brekhus voted “no” along with Delgado and Bobzien.  Jardon, Duerr, Weber, and Schieve voted to approve the continuance as requested by the developer.
  • Darrin Sweeney representing the fire fighters union says the union has no position on the development, but “A new fully staffed fire station will be needed.  Nearby stations are seeing growing demands.  There is nothing in the Daybreak plan that allows for fire fighters”.
  • Kim Rhodemyre expressed agreement with Brekhus in public comment.  She went on to say that the developers lost their permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Terri Thomas made a public comment “We don’t have waste treatment capacity for the many projects that are already in the pipeline.  We need to decide which ones will get service first.”
  • Councilman Duerr said “The project they’re considering should be the same one that the Planning Commission approved.  If this keeps changing, it should go back to the Planning Commission.”

The meeting was broadcast on Spectrum local access channel 192.

Lemmon Drive Estates appeal denied

Yesterday (11/13/18), the Board of County Commissioners denied the appeal by the developer regarding the Lemmon Drive Estates development.  This is a 98-home development with reduced setbacks to achieve higher density.  This is located on the east side of Lemmon Drive just south of Military Road.  See this LINK for more about the development.  The Planning Commission had denied the development unanimously on May 1, 2018.    The developer had done preliminary grading without a permit and will be required to repair the damage to the extent possible working with Washoe County Code Enforcement.


  • Commissioner Jung requested an instruction period by staff on the sewer facilities.
  • Commissioner Jung asked staff to figure out a way to have traffic studies done by a third party with no interest in the developer or the development.
  • Commissioner Jung wants to see more high-density housing developed within the McCarran loop.
  • Commissioner Lucey had no comment whatsoever.
  • Ms. Holt-Still made a public comment requesting that Commissioner Herman have her earlier board assignments restored.  She should be on the flood-related boards that will be considering special assessments for flood remediation.


Tammy Holt-Still’s notes edited by Steve Wolgast

Planning Comm. denies Toll Rd. re-zoning

At their November 7 meeting, the Washoe County Planning Commission voted unanimously to deny the zoning amendment and master plan amendment which would permit the development of the Estates at Marango Springs development at the south end of Toll Road (at Marango Road).  The application was denied because none of the five required “findings” were met according to the planning commissioners.  The current plan is to build 50 homes on the 80 acre property.

Estates at Marango Springs details.

Discussion points, notes

  • Commission counsel advised Thomas Bruce to recuse himself since the applicant, Harry Fry, is his dentist.  Thomas Bruce did so.
  • A super-majority is needed to approve this amendment.  Derek Wilson (Rubicon Design) representing the applicant asked what the super-majority vote threshold would be given that Commissioner Horan is absent and Commissioner Bruce is recused.  Commission counsel replied that a minimum of 4 “yes” votes would be needed to approve.
  • Commissioner Lawson had gone to see the site in preparation for the meeting.
  • The applicant will need to obtain water rights for this new development.  The applicant will pay for water and sewer to be extended to this new development.
  • The possibility was raised that Toll Road have an extension to connect it to Rhodes Road so that there would be more flexibility to handle traffic.  A Rhodes Road resident spoke out against this possibility.  The applicant did not offer to build this extension.
  • Several residents of Majestic Ranch Estates testified to bad faith interactions with the applicant, Harry Fry, and made reference to a pending suit against him for issues relating to Majestic Ranch homes.
  • Derek Wilson asserted that no traffic study would be required for such a small development, but did not refer to a specific statute indicating this.  Trevor Lloyd (county planner) said that a traffic study is needed if the peak traffic is expected to exceed 80 trips.  Toll Road and Marango Road have no shoulder or sidewalks, so traffic safety is a critical issue.  It currently takes REMSA (ambulance service) nine minutes to respond to an emergency on Toll Road when there is only light traffic.  A fire fighter testified that it took an hour for fire crews to reach the end of Toll Rd. during a wildfire evacuation.
  • One area resident says that he has seen four 100-year floods in the 27 years he has lived there.  Flooding is a chronic problem in the area.
  • Commissioner Chesney expressed concern that there is already a lot of development approved but not yet built in the area that will increase traffic.  He says that the LDS zoning is not applicable since some of the property is on a slope which cannot be built on.
  • A long time resident pointed out that it took years to develop the area plan, and that this development will not be compliant.  Commissioner Lawson read the introduction from the South Valleys Area Plan and pressed Mr. Lloyd about the importance of the “character statement”.  Commissioner Chesney asserted that the South Valleys are being “laid to waste” by development.  He hesitates to go against the neighbors.


Planning Commissioners:

James Barnes, Thomas Bruce (recused), Sarah Chvilicek, Larry Chesney, Francine Donshick, Mike Lawson, Phillip Horan (absent)