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!

Simple Addition: Flood Edition

OK.  It’s not “simple addition” to figure out the flooding contribution of waste water on the level of Swan Lake.  It’s about as hard as figuring out how much to tip your server.

The Reno Stead Waste Water Plant flows 2.5 million gallons of treated effluent per day to Swan Lake. (Smith)

The Lemmon Valley Waste Water Plant flows 0.22 million gallons of treated effluent per day to Swan Lake. (Smith)

Combined, they flow 2.72 million gallons of treated effluent per day to Swan Lake.

One acre foot is 325,861 gallons.

So, 2.72 million gallons per day is 8.34 acre-feet per day.

Multiply by 365 to get 3,046 acre-feet per year.

The area of Swan Lake is 1,600 acres. (Smith)

Divide 3,046 acre-feet by 1,600 acres.  The result is 1.90 feet per year.

ANSWER: Waste water discharge into Swan Lake raises the level 1.90 feet per year.  

Conclusions

  • The effluent discharge into Swan Lake is a significant factor in the lake level.
  • It looks like the 2.5 feet of evaporation loss comes from measurements, so this is net of the 1.90 feet of effluent contribution.  Thus the total loss to evaporation is 2.5 + 1.90 = 4.4 feet.  If the effluent were shut off, the lake might fall 4.4 feet during a year due to evaporation.
  • If the Reno Stead Waste Water Plant flow increased to 4.0 million gallons per day and the Lemmon Valley Waste Water Plant flow increased to 0.3 million gallons per day, the total would add 3.0 feet to the level of the lake every year.  In this case, the lake level would only lose 1.4 feet per year from evaporation (net).

It looks like the neighbors who assert that the flooding is substantially due to effluent from development are right.

…..

PS  Check out the “In The Media” page to see what is going on in the news and opinion columns relating to development.  This page is updated frequently.