The Truckee Meadows Regional Governing Board denied an appeal by four residents in a 6-4 vote (6/11/20). The appeal was to overturn the approval of the Daybreak project by the Regional Planning Commission in January. The four residents made the following presentations.
The Upper Southeast Communities Coalition had a petition signed by 690 residents opposing the development. The Board had received 32 comments in opposition and 214 comments in support. The supporting comments presumably came primarily from construction unions.
Introduction and Traffic-Study Issues: Steve Wolgast
- The traffic will become unacceptable
- The traffic study was based on an inappropriate review
- The traffic study is grossly outdated
- The traffic study did not follow acceptable practices.
Flooding Issues: Franco Crivelli
- The developer plans to flood neighborhoods to the north.
- The developer’s mitigation plan won’t work.
- The flood modelling used does not show the actual flood risk.
- The city has a history of failing to enforce the requirements.
- Much of Daybreak is in the Critical Flood Zone.
Mercury Contamination: Kim Rhodemyre
- The Mercury testing method taking surface samples is inadequate.
- Areas of known Mercury contamination were not tested.
- The mitigation plan is not well defined and poses more risks.
- Arsenic contamination is not addressed at all.
Planning Issues: Jim Lewis
- Reno is legally committed to support Daybreak as an outcome of the suit.
- There is no such thing as “suburban infill”. It is a ruse by the developer.
- Affordable housing needs to be in Reno’s “core” where costs are lower.
- There is dangerous traffic in the South Meadows and construction is not done.
- Daybreak has high costs which will be reflected in their home prices.
Andy Durling gave a presentation that anticipated the arguments the appellants would make. It mainly addressed issues of what the regional board could consider. It addressed none of the technical issues raised. His tone was condescending implying the appellants were emotional and that “science matters and facts matter”. He closed claiming that the appeal had no merit.
The appellants had 5 minutes to rebut (1:15 each).
Wolgast “Is the board ready to let Mr. Durling define their role? As an engineer, I agree that facts matter and I notice that Mr. Durling did not address or refute any of the technical points raised. If facts matter, then why is the developer using an arguably fraudulent traffic study?”
Crivelli “We can have no confidence that the commitments for flood storage will be met. This project will increase off-site flooding. The claim that Truckee flooding will stop at Mira Loma is ludicrous.”
Rhodemyre “I didn’t say NDEP didn’t know what they were doing (asserted by Durling). I said they couldn’t answer any of my questions till the ‘404’ permit was applied for. NDEP does not do their own testing, but relies on the developers’ paid-engineers data. The Daybreak project has not been modeled for a 100 yr flood on Steamboat Creek. Will their design make the flood model worse? There is no model for the situation where the Truckee River and Steamboat Creek flood in the same period. This will be catastrophic.”
Lewis “While Mr. Pagni (developer attorney) claimed that my statements were emotional, I clearly showed all my reference material. It is very clear that Mr. Durling lied in his presentation. He inappropriately used terms from “urban infill” for “suburban infill”. This deception is kind of amazing. Mr. Durling did not address the traffic accident data that already shows that the development in the South Meadows is excessive. Daybreak is an effort to build urban development in suburbia.”
Commissioner Hartung made the assertion that having more housing stock would reduce housing prices overall. Council member Brekhus countered with the truism “If everything gets approved, then nothing gets built.” Her point is well taken. There are 90,000 dwelling-units worth of housing stock that have been approved but not built in the region. This is double what is likely needed for the next 20 years.
Council member Bybee asked specific questions of the developer and did not get answers. She asked repeatedly about the housing prices and expected rents and was rewarded with “median price” and “market rate”. The casual observer might expect her to be irritated by Mr. Durling’s obvious evasion, but she voted to uphold the approval anyway.
No board members were swayed: the votes were as expected. Council member Duerr moved to overturn the Planning Commission approval citing numerous noncompliances with the regional code. This was seconded by Brekhus and supported by Commissioner Herman. It looked hopeful for a moment. Duerr made the arguments that made it easy for others to follow her.
Reese, Weber, Hartung, Lawson, and Abbott, voted to uphold the approval. Commissioner Berkbigler suffered a power outage during the meeting, so she did not vote. It would not have changed the outcome in any case.
It was discouraging. The public safety issues were clear and urgent: none were addressed. This board is not “up to” protecting the public. There was a sense in the meeting that the votes were decided in advance. It appeared that the Reno Swamp may extend to Sparks. Most of our local officials seem to work for the development interests.