Regional Plan Update 2019, 5/30/19

The American Planning Association held an educational luncheon at the RTC building.

Director Kim Robinson and Staff Scientist Jeremy Smith gave a presentation about …

  • possible development schemes
  • public survey inputs
  • recent development activities
  • area trends in housing

Key points made by the presenters

  • The current Regional Plan dates to 2007 and is little changed from the version developed in 2002.  It’s time for a new plan and vision for the area.
  • They received a lot of public input getting 1814 responses to an online survey.
  • They have held 42 meetings seeking public input.
  • The idea is to address growth patterns through “scenario planning” based on priorities.
  • There were four scenarios considered, modeled, and offered for public review.  There were
    1. “Classic”; this presumes we keep growing in the pattern we have been historically
    2. “McCarran”; this encourages more of the growth within the McCarran Loop.
    3. “Smart Greenfield”; this encourages growth near existing infrastructure.
    4. “Infill”; this strongly emphasizes high density growth in the urban core.
  • Survey responses on growth indicate the following concerns in order.
    1. Infrastructure
    2. Natural environment
    3. Accommodating growth
    4. Housing
  • Survey responses on quality of life indicate the following priorities.
    1. Natural environment
    2. Land use/infrastructure
    3. Education
    4. Economic well-being
  • Survey responses (840) ranking the different growth scenarios came out as follows;
    1. Infill; highest growth density around downtown
    2. Smart Greenfield Growth; grow around existing infrastructure.
    3. McCarran; higher density growth within the McCarran Loop.
    4. Classic; keep sprawling like we have been.
  • Based on the Consensus Growth numbers, they expect they will need 44,000 more dwelling units (houses, condos, apartments) over the next 20 years presuming a population increase of 107,000.
  • There are currently 60,000 dwelling units approved as Planned Unit Developments or Tentative Maps in the Truckee Meadows.
  • There is 40-50 years of development capacity with no changes in current zoning.
  • Some additional units over 44,000 dwelling units will be needed for “market liquidity” allowing for the convenient selling and buying of existing homes.
  • Approximately 4,000 dwelling units were added to the area in 2018.
  • Reno has been building about 40% multi-family residences for the past 2-5 years.  This approximates the “McCarran” scheme.  They are incentivizing vertical growth.
  • TMRPA would like to see a regional public infrastructure investment plan.  The local governments have different planning methods that are hard to coordinate.
  • Clearing the slate of “paper lots” or zombie projects would allow for more accurate planning.
  • There is presently a shift away from concurrent infrastructure building where infrastructure is built to be ready when new residents move in.
  • There is interest and fear on the part of local governments about how to fairly apportion increased police and fire service costs to developers.

Key points made by the developers in attendance

  • Many of the 60,000 dwelling units approved are not economically feasible to build.  It’s unfair that the Planning Commissions use this backlog as a reason to deny new development plans.  These are “paper lots” (aka zombie projects).
  • Affordable housing is almost impossible to build since the property owners want too much for undeveloped land.
  • The contributions from developers for police and fire services are unfair.  Some developers are required to build a fire station while others contribute nothing.

Conclusions

  • Planning land use to protect the natural environment and access to nature along with infrastructure tops the list of priorities for residents.  Residents think economic development is less important than preserving the natural character of the area.
  • Residents don’t like the way growth has been happening.  The “Classic” development scheme is the last choice.

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