Ascente First Final Map

Washoe County filed a final map for Ascente in July from Toll Brothers. It is only for 5 home lots at the end of Brushwood Way on the Ascente property near the end of Fawn Lane. There is no information on the other 220 homes. With this step completed, Toll Brothers can move forward with grading with no further permits or approvals.

A geotech report was included with the final map package to indicate where earthquake faults lie on the property. Homes must be located 50 feet from identified faults. This is a big issue as the Washoe County geologic map identifies several faults on this property and the existence of these faults can wipe out many homesites and reduce the profitability of the development. It therefore behooves the developer to “avoid” identifying these faults and therefore the need to amend their lot locations.

The report file is a combination of different files with many appendices. This is unwieldy. Here are links to the report by Lumos (engineering), Gasch (seismic measurements), and Saunders (consulting geologist). It’s as bad as you might fear. It was the Lumos manager who selected the sites for the exploration trenches and the sites for the refractive seismic lines when it should have been the geologists.

The principal overall problems with the geotech report are the following.

  • The study was done based on an outdated map (1975) when a newer one (2011) was available that showed the locations of the fault systems in the area.
  • The study does not show a fault that has been identified: The Galena Creek Fault that runs along the eastern base of the Steamboat Hills.
  • A major fault appears to end at the property boundary. No effort was made to confirm that it does not traverse the property.
  • The fault trenches were not located properly to identify suspected fault locations on the property.
  • The fault trenches were not dug to industry standards and were not inspected or logged to industry practice.
  • The results of a core sample that indicates a likely fault may have been misrepresented.

Geologists in the neighborhood inspected the trenches after hours to see what work was being done. One of the core samples was left out overnight by the drilling crew allowing inspection by a geologist. A letter was sent to the county engineer, Dwayne Smith, on 12/15/2017 by the geologists indicating the inadequacies of the work performed. There was no response to the detailed letter. A request was made to the county for the Lumos geotech report. It was not provided.

A more detailed review of the Lumos Geotech Report will appear in a later post.


Ascente Geotech Report

Geology Concerns for Ascente

Callahan Wildfire Evacuation

This is a guest post by Tom Daly.

When a wind-driven wildfire bears down on your neighborhood, you may only have a few minutes to safely evacuate. Wildfires over the last several years have often blocked the normal vehicular route residents use every day or may find those routes clogged with much more than routine traffic.

So, having a secondary evacuation route should be part of your planning. In the Mt. Rose corridor, housing developments were often planned and approved without those secondary routes or are constrained by closed and locked gates, which complicates the evacuation process.

More recently, the planned Ascente development south of Mt. Rose Highway and east of Callahan Road now owned by Toll Brothers, has exacerbated the problem by blocking the formerly unobstructed secondary access route for both the Fawn Lane neighborhood and the adjacent Callahan Ranch neighborhood. The Brushwood Way (Callahan Ranch) to Fawn Lane connection was blocked by Toll Brothers in July with boulders on the Brushwood Way end.

On Wednesday 7/20/2022 Assistant County Manager Solaro advised me than within two weeks those boulders on Brushwood Way would be replaced by a gate, openable in an emergency, to allow those residents to have their second evacuation route restored. What has happened since? No gate at Brushwood Way as of August 10th.

A second barrier, a temporary fence and gate, chained and padlocked, was later installed at the end of the paved portion of Fawn Lane. Now two barriers to escape for Fawn Lane and Callahan Ranch residents exist.

In a further conversation on Thursday 7.28.2022 with Assistant County Manager Dave Solaro, he advised me that those current and future gates will only be openable by the developer (Toll Bros staff), the Sheriff and his CERT group or TMFPD units. Good luck with that happening in the middle of the night with a wind-driven wildfire roaring down the mountain into those neighborhoods.

At my meeting on August 9th with County Manager Brown, he committed his Emergency Manager to bring forward a solution to this problem in the near term. Manager Brown also indicated that TMFPD Chief Moore is also working this problem. Let’s hope those solutions are implemented before the next wildfire.

Developers’ interests once again trump public safety.

Thomas Daly is a resident of Washoe County and his community is adjacent to the Ascente development.