Assembly Hearing for SB327 – Short But Only Sweet For Developers

I attended the Assembly hearing yesterday morning to review SB327, the bill that will allow expedited land development.

Original Bill Summary: Revises provisions relating to land use planning. (BDR 22-883)

Current Bill Title: AN ACT relating to land use planning; defining “residential dwelling unit”; authorizing the governing body of a county or city to provide for the division of land into five or more lots in an ordinance for planned unit development; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.

I made the following observations:
1)  Alex Assefa, Democrat from Clark County made pronounced commentary on whether this bill addresses the real issue of affordable housing in NV.  The gentleman member seated to his left (I wasn’t able to identify) made a point about the need for “starter homes” and Mr. Assefa pressed that starter homes and affordable housing are two VERY different types of housing.  One is based on an upwardly mobile family unit, and the other must serve the working class with very limited upward financial opportunity.   Mr. Assefa is rightly concerned that this bill does NOT address the need for affordable housing.
2) Gregory Hafen a Republican from Nye county stated that he works as a developer and sees a “need for this bill”.  What he SHOULD have done is immediately recuse himself because he stands to benefit financially if this bill should pass.
3) John Ellison, a Republican from Elko county stated that “fast is always better” in response to Aaron West’s comment that developers “lose $5,000/per lot per year” as a result of the current tentative map approval process, and that the purpose of SB327 is to get product to market faster.
Am I the ONLY one who sees what is happening here?   The product that is really needed is AFFORDABLE HOUSING and the proponents who spoke in favor, Aaron West (NV Builders Alliance) and Angela Fuss (Head Planner for Lumos Assoc., engineers and planners working exclusively for developers) will financially benefit from passage of this bill. as will at least one of the Assembly members, Mr. Hafen and the sponsor, Senator Kiekhefer, who’s law firm McDonald Carano represents the Stonegate developer.  It is apparent that he is sponsoring a bill specifically to favor developers as clients.
The hearing was a farce and did nothing to elucidate ANY altruistic need for this outrageously corrupt bill.   Affordable housing?   Really?

The hearing on this bill lasted only 45 minutes.   Only one person spoke in favor of the bill: Ms. Melinda Smith, representing the Builders Association of Nevada.  Surprised? Not.

Three people spoke against the bill, all offering very salient points as to why this bill is not only totally unnecessary, but only benefits developers at the expense of existing residents and environmental concerns:

Mr. Patrick Donnelly, representing the Center for Biological Diversity, linked this bill to the increasing threat of urban sprawl and poor environmental planning.  He also linked this bill to those who are working on the Lands Bill.

Ms. Maxine Meeks, a former Carson City Planning Commissioner, spoke against this bill, stating that the public review process is “the heart and soul” of the PUD and that this bill effectively prevents citizen participation.

Mr. Mike Lawson, Washoe County Planning Commissioner for District 2 made the following comments:

The current process under NRS 278 is for a development to be completely designed so that individual residential lots and many details are defined. This requirement ensures the design can be reviewed for tentative map approval. Engineering reports need to be submitted to show that there is traffic capacity, water availability, sewer treatment capacity, and flood control before the development can be approved by the planning commission at the tentative-map step in the only step that gets public review and input. Under SB327, the primary developer can submit a plan for a Planned Unit Development (zoning exception) and tentative map including superpads which have no design details. The primary developer could sell the superpads to commercial builders who would complete the detailed design for these large tracts. This creates several issues including but not limited to the following:

  • Under SB327, the development is never reviewed in its entirety. Neither the planning commission nor the public gets to consider the finished product.
  • If the primary builder grades the entire project but the superpads don’t sell, we have a mammoth scar on the landscape for the indefinite future with erosion and other hazards.
  • SB327 is written so that the primary developer may include estimates of water, traffic, sewer, emergency services, and other impacts the development will produce.
  • SB327 would not require the primary developer to submit his plan incorporating superpads to the planning commission for review. The City or County could designate a manager or other professional to review the plan with no public review.
  • • SB327 would not require the secondary developers to submit any engineering reports regarding the tract plans. So, no one is responsible for the engineering analysis of the finished design.
  • SB327 would require cities or counties to designate a single person to review and approve the secondary developers’ tract plans. These plans would not go before the planning commission. The city council or county commission would never vote on these plans. There would be no public review.
  • SB327 would only allow the city or county 30 days to approve, conditionally approve, or disapprove a tract plan (SB327 13.1). This is not enough time to seek public input or to get questions answered.
  • SB327 would only allow regional agencies 15 days to respond to a secondary developer’s tract plan.

As of the morning of May 7, 2019 the NELIS website showed 96 comments in opposition to SB 327 and zero in favor. It is apparent that this Bill would serve the few at a cost to the many.

The Legislators would be wise to show us who REALLY profits or do not pass this bill!

7 thoughts on “Assembly Hearing for SB327 – Short But Only Sweet For Developers

  1. Wow Kris
    Thankyou for being there for us.
    Thank goodness it did not pass.
    A friend of mine made the comment that Nye and Elko county reps should not be voting on Washoe county development rulings.

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    • Hi Janis! This bill will apply state-wide with each county given the option whether to adopt it. See Steve’s post on SB327 (https://washoerap.com/2019/03/27/sb327-codifying-malfeasance/) , which has since been amended to eliminate Stonegate, hardly making it any more ethically palatable! I should have mentioned that Ms. Rodriguez stood to announce that Washoe County remains “neutral” on this bill. What a surprise!

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  2. Pingback: Take 5: oppose SB327 Today! | Washoe Residents for Appropriate Planning

  3. Pingback: SB327 Fails to pass! | Washoe Residents for Appropriate Planning

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