Mike Lawson has been informed by Commissioner Bob Lucey that Lucey will not re-appoint him for another term on the Washoe Planning Commission for District 2. Lawson’s term ends at the end of June 2019. Lawson was originally appointed in May of 2017 to fill the vacancy left by Tom Daley.
Lawson’s departure represents a blow to advocates of responsible development. He spent a career in traffic planning; most of it with NDOT. He brings expertise and perspective to the planning commission on a topic of great importance to development planning. While personable and respectful, Lawson brings character and healthy skepticism to his role. He makes the time to understand development plans in detail and has no hesitation to ask the tough questions and to challenge developers’ claims. He quickly grasped the bias shown by the Washoe Planning Department to support the developers and treats their assertions with the same skepticism. He has changed the way the planning commission approaches its work. Recent denials of destructive development plans have been unanimous. The area plans (master plans) are being interpreted literally and applied consistently. Hopefully, his influence on the planning commission will last, and the commissioners will review new development plans critically.
His dismissal is no surprise. His predecessor, Tom Daly, had been removed from the planning commission following his public criticism of the terrible Colina Rosa (aka Symphony Ranch) development. The Board of Commissioners wants to still voices that represent the residents, homeowners, and taxpayers. They have proven consistent supporters of the developers and special interests. This was seen last year when the Board of Commissioners discussed ways to limit the role of the planning commission as well as the role of the Citizens Advisory Boards (LINK). The Board of Commissioners is increasingly isolated in its obsequious support of the developers.
We must not despair.
- Lawson has influenced the way the planning commission works. This is likely to last.
- Lawson will continue to advocate against destructive development. The “gloves will be off” once he is out of office. He will no longer be bound by official decorum.
- Lawson has made important personal contacts that will augment his influence.
- Lawson has influenced the community’s perception of what good development should look like and what destructive development must be avoided.
- Lawson will be more available to work with residents fighting destructive development when he no longer needs to consider limitations imposed by his official role.
Lawson has been drawn to public service, and this has been evident by his work on the planning commission (Lawson blog). Washoe County residents from every district owe him their gratitude for his service on the planning commission and for the resolve he has shown defending their interests.