Deadly Highway (NV 431)

This is a guest post by Thomas Daly, CSP.

In 2018 NDOT contracted with the traffic engineering consulting firm Kimberly/Horn to conduct a ‘Road Safety Assessment’ of Mt. Rose Highway.   Their 39-page report with appendices was issued in August 2018 with more than 50 ‘suggestions’ for road safety improvements.

ON December 5, 2018 NDOT made a presentation to area residents to discuss the study, see summary of issues at this link

While Mt. Rose Highway is a state road, and thus NDOT’s responsibility, virtually all of the intersecting roads and streets are COUNTY owned.  So, solutions to the increasing traffic, multiple fatality/injury accidents, pedestrian safety and property damage accidents are a dual responsibility.

So, of the 50 or so traffic safety improvements suggested, what number of those have been completed in the ensuing two years?  You guessed it…none.

But the carnage continues.  A three-fatality traffic accident occurred at Thomas Creek Road and Mt. Rose Highway on November 10, 2018.  Another two-vehicle accident resulting in two fatalities occurred last year at the intersection of Callahan Road and Mt. Rose Highway and another fatal accident occurred this year higher up on one of Mt. Rose Highway’s infamous hair-pin turns. 

Mt. Rose Highway should be re-named the ‘Highway of Death’. 

NDOT was requested on October 27, 2020 to brief the Washoe County Commission at an upcoming Commission meeting on this subject but no date for the briefing was specified, so do not look for it until next year. 

Traffic safety does not seem to be a priority of NDOT nor our County Commissioners.

Drive safely.

Thomas G. Daly is a Mt. Rose Highway corridor resident and a former Washoe County Planning Commissioner.

2020 Election Finance Update

The reports are in from the candidates for campaign contributions through October 15, 2020. Here is a summary of what Reno Councilmembers and Washoe County Commissioners are getting from development interests.

Reno Ward-1 City Council

  • Jenny Brekhus, incumbent: $10,050
  • J D Drakulich, challenger: $136,880

Reno Ward-3 City Council

  • Oscar Delgado, incumbent: $64,000
  • Rudy Leon, challenger: $0

Reno Ward-5 City Council

  • Neoma Jardon, incumbent: $75,299
  • Darla Fink, challenger: $0

Reno At-Large City Council

  • Devon Reese, incumbent: $95,450
  • Eddie Lorton, challenger: $12,960

Washoe County Commission, District-1

  • Marsha Berkbigler, incumbent: $24,500
  • Alexis Hill, challenger: $3,800

Washoe County Commission, District-4

  • Vaughan Hartung, incumbent: $20,475
  • Marie Baker, challenger: $0

Conclusions …

  • Developers really want to see Drakulich defeat Brekhus. They would much rather see a realtor representing Ward-1 rather than an urban planner who will oppose irresponsible development.
  • Developers have little love for the challengers. Other than Brekhus, the incumbents seem to be working for them just fine.
  • The incumbent county commissioners don’t think they need to mount vigorous campaigns.

More:

Previous post: WRAP Election Edition 2020

Excel file with detailed campaign contribution data

WRAP Election Edition 2020

Updated 10/9/2020

Updated 10/6/2020

We have had to face the fact that many of our commissioners and council members are shameless. They are not persuaded by logical arguments. They cannot be pressured by public sentiment. They cannot be shamed by public exposure of their subservience to the developers. Most appear to accept their ethical demise. That leaves only two avenues to effect change: the courts and the ballot box. Residents get a chance to express themselves at the ballot box every two years. Residents should seize the opportunity.

The Nevada Independent has an excellent review of the candidates running for the Sparks City Council.

Who Is Running?

City of Reno

Ward-1

Jenny Brekhus (incumbent, non-partisan) … https://jennybrekhus.com/

  • Has a Masters of Public Administration and a Masters Regional Planning
  • Has served two terms on the city council
  • Served as Planning Director for Silver City, NM.
  • Does not have another job other than the city council

J.D. Drakulich (non-partisan) … https://drakulichforreno.com/

  • Large-scale area realtor.
  • Has never held elected office.

Ward-2

Oscar Delgado (incumbent, Democrat) … https://www.facebook.com/oscardelgadonv/

  • Has experience as a community organizer
  • Has a Masters of Social Work and a Masters of Urban Planning
  • Has served two terms on the city council
  • Serves as CEO of the Community Health Alliance

Rudy Leon (Democrat) … https://www.rudyforreno.com/

  • Served as a university administrator and a research librarian
  • Holds a PhD.
  • Has never held elected office.

Ward-5

Neoma Jardon (incumbent, Republican) … https://neomaforreno.com/

  • Served as HR Manager for McDonald-Carano-Wilson law firm
  • Has served two terms on the city council.

Darla Fink (Democrat) … https://www.thinkfink2020.com/

  • Holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration.
  • Was director of finance and administration for the Sierra Nevada Job Corps.
  • Has never held elected office.

At Large

Devon Reese (incumbent, Democrat) … https://www.votereese.com/

  • Has completed a partial term: he was appointed to fill Bobzien’s seat.
  • Ran for the Nevada State Senate in 2016 unsuccessfully.
  • He is a lawyer with experience in union-related suits.

Eddie Lorton (Republican) … https://www.facebook.com/EddieLortonReno

  • Ran for mayor in 2014 and 2018.
  • Local businessman
  • Opposes development with inadequate infrastructure
  • Has never held elected office

Candidate op-ed pieces in the Reno Gazette Journal … (Delgado & Leon not available on 10/6)

Brekhus / Drakulich / Fink / Jardon / Lorton / Reese

Reno Gazette Journal interviews between Delgado and Leon

Washoe County

District-1

Marsha Berkbigler (incumbent, Republican) … https://electmarsha.com/

  • Had a career as a lobbyist and a realtor.
  • She is seeking a third term on the county commission.
  • Has been a booster of EDAWN’s efforts to increase area growth.

Alexis Hill (Democrat) … https://www.votealexishill.com/

  • Has a Masters in Public Administration
  • Has experience working with area foundations (Sierra Arts, EDAWN, and Truckee Meadows Tomorrow)

District-4

Vaughn Hartung (incumbent, Republican) … https://vaughnhartung.com/

  • He is seeking his third term.
  • Photographer

Marie Baker (Democrat) … https://www.electmariebaker.com/meet-marie

  • Has her own independent insurance business.
  • Has never held elected office.

Campaign contributions recorded 1/1/2020 – 7/15/2020

Note: this does not include contributions after July 15 which are likely to be substantial. The new contribution totals will be reported October 15. The new totals will be posted on WRAP as soon as possible.

WRAP Picks … (Steve Wolgast)

Reno, Ward-1, Jenny Brekhus

Brekhus has proven herself to be smart, honest, and fiscally responsible. She opposes reckless development that will cause excessive traffic, flood risk, or school overcrowding. She opposes bond initiatives that are not well founded or responsibly written. Drakulich is a realtor seeking to join a council that is already overly favorable toward development.

Reno, Ward-2, Rudy Leon

Leon is a newcomer and has run a weak campaign against a popular incumbent. She is smart and ethical and has taken a stand against building in floodplains. Delgado has proven himself a shill of the developers with his approval of the Daybreak development. This development presents serious public safety risks of flooding, Mercury contamination, and traffic. He knows the hazards but voted to approve the project anyway.

Reno, Ward-5, Darla Fink

Fink is a newcomer, but an experienced professional with a Masters in Public Administration. She is concerned about the effects of growth on existing neighborhoods. She is also concerned about Reno’s budget and fiscal discipline. In contrast, Jardon is the candidate of the developers and is a consistent promoter of their interests. This is reflected in the campaign contributions she receives from them.

Reno, At Large, Eddie Lorton

A long-time Reno resident, Eddie has a grasp on the issues facing residents. He is opposed to the city’s approval of development that does not have the infrastructure in place to support it. Developers should pay for the infrastructure needed for their developments. Devon Reese is new to the council, but has been unwavering in his support of developers. They have responded with record campaign contributions. He has indignantly defended his ethical position, but it’s a logical to conclude that his votes and their contributions are related.

Washoe County, District-1, Alexis Hill

Hill is smart and dynamic. She is concerned about water availability, homelessness, sustainable growth, and government accountability. Berkbigler has strong ties with area realtors and developers and is a consistent vote for developers. A voter is left with the impression that she thinks that all growth is progress.

Washoe County, District-4, Marie Baker

Marie Baker provides us with little information other than that she is a native Nevadan. This is an opportunity to vote against Hartung who has proven himself a steadfast supporter of developers. Hartung will ask incisive, pointed questions during commission meetings only to vote with the developer when the answers are unsatisfactory. It is a form of theater.

Related links in WRAP:

Reno approves Daybreak

Daybreak Payday

Coffee with Devon Reese

Meeting the County Commissioners (2017):

Be sure to get your vote in early. Nevada has safe, secure, and convenient voting opportunities.

Lakeridge Tennis Club Developments

The following is a guest blog submitted by Jim Christoff.

The owner of the Lakeridge Tennis Club decided to sell the property in 2019 to an LLC that included Reno Land working with Wood Rogers. The developer held public meetings regarding their plans and indicated that some of the recreational facilities would be retained on roughly half the property. Club members and neighbors were reassured that the development would be on a suitable scale. Reno Land went on to apply for a zoning change from “Specific Plan District” to “Community Commercial” for greater flexibility. The Reno City Council approved the zoning change on 9/23/19 (minutes see C1). The developer then submitted dramatically different plans including complete demolition of the existing facility and the construction of 350 apartments. This plan was approved by the Reno Planning Department.
Nine individuals appealed the decision of the Planning Department and their appeals were heard by a Hearing Examiner appointed by the city. Many of those appeals claimed that the plans did not meet Reno’s municipal code. The Examiner agreed with the appellants. The developer then appealed to the Reno City Council to overturn the decision of the Examiner and allow the project to proceed. The appeal to City Council was on its agenda for August 26, 2020, and all sides were prepared to argue their cases in front of Council. Hundreds of letters, emails and voicemails were sent to the city in advance from citizens opposed to the project. However, less than 5 hours before the meeting, the developer withdrew their plans and as a result the developer’s appeal was not heard. The developer may have concluded that they would get a more favorable hearing after the November elections.
Appellants claimed that the developer acted in bad faith relative to the neighbors and Club members by using ‘bait and switch’ tactics. As stated by the Hearing Examiner, “Reno Land representatives were clear and almost unequivocal: Reno Land intended to keep key parts of the Club and build apartments on a smaller scale than what has been presented in the SPR before us now.” Over 200 neighbors and Club members had attended the public meetings to see the developer’s plans. This now appears to have been a ruse by the developer in order to induce citizens to accept a change in zoning instead of contesting it during the subsequent Council meeting.
The later plan would put 350 apartments in eight 4-story buildings on the 9.3 acre site. The developer went on to claim that the 350 apartments would generate less traffic than visitors to the Club, estimated by the former general manager to be 100 to 150 visitors daily. This appears absurd. In addition, the development provided only 392 parking spaces for 350 apartments, forcing any additional vehicles to park on adjacent streets.
Lakeridge Tennis Club was once northern Nevada’s largest multipurpose facility, offering year-round indoor and outdoor tennis and swimming as well as a fitness center, aerobics studio, basketball, racquetball, squash, Zumba and pilates. The Club had a dining room open to the public with indoor and outdoor seating offering views of tennis games in progress. It was home to the Lakeridge Swim Team, which trained many future athletes who ultimately became members of the US Olympic Swim Team. Membership was open to anyone and the Club was considered a quasi-public facility because it served the fitness and recreational needs of citizens as well as providing financial assistance and scholarships to those in need.
Once the elections are over, the council members may be less sensitive to the interests of their constituents. At that point the developer may re-submit the plan and pursue the appeal. Stay tuned!

Recent articles …

RGJ “Lakeridge Tennis Club Closing Permanently”

RGJ: Lakeridge Plan Change Approved

RGJ: Reno Land Changes Lakeridge Development Plans

Additional reference …

Weiss appeal

Reno Swamp #3: Daybreak Payday

The Daybreak project faced strong opposition from residents.  It brings an increased hazard of flooding, a potential for widespread Mercury contamination, and gridlock-traffic.  Residents presented detailed arguments with maps and analysis at each step.  See the Daybreak history page for details and links.

  • 7/19/18 The project is approved by the Reno Planning Commission.
  •  9/11/18 The city council first postponed (continued) a decision.
  • 11/28/18 The city council voted to deny the project.
  • 2/16/19 The developer sues the city.
  • 3/5/19 The developer submits the project in pieces to the Neighborhood Advisory Board.
  • 8/26/19 The developer’s suit is settled placing restrictions on Reno.
  • 9/23/19 The city council voted to approve the project after the developer went to court and got a judgement limiting the city’s options.  It did not oblige the city to approve it.
  • 10/23/19 The project approval is challenged at its second reading.
  • The project was approved by the regional planning authority (TMRPA).
  • 6/11/20 Residents then appealed the decision of the planning authority to the regional governing board.  The board voted to approve the project.

It was a long haul.  For the officials who supported the project, it was a source of public embarrassment.  They supported a terrible project that clearly presented a threat to public safety.  It looks like they got compensation for their … uh, service.  See what they got from the Daybreak developer and related interests in the last quarter.

Delgado;

    • $10k from Newport Pacific Land (Daybreak) ,
    • $10k Lyon Management Group (Newport Beach builder)
    • $5500 from AGC (local contractors)
    • $5k from Reno Land LLC [not Daybreak]

Nevada Secretary of State report

Jardon;

    • $10k from Newport Pacific Land (Daybreak) ,
    • $10k Lyon Management Group (Newport Beach builder)
    • $5k from Reno Land LLC  [not Daybreak]

Nevada Secretary of State report

Reese;

    • $10k from Newport Pacific Land (Daybreak)
    • $10k from NPC Investors (Newport Beach)
    • $4.5k from Wood Rogers (Daybreak Planning)
    • $10k from Lyon Management Group (Newport Beach builder)
    • $5k from AGC PAC

Nevada Secretary of State report

Apparently, there were no Daybreak contributions to Mayor Schieve who voted for the project at one point and against it later.  Schieve voted for a continuance which is what the developer requested, not for the project itself.  There were no contributions to council member Weber who is the most outspoken supporter of all development.  Neither of them are up for election this year.  We may see a contribution from Daybreak for the next election.

Prostitution is legal in Lyon County.  It looks like prostitution by officials is thriving in Reno.

It might be time for a RICO (Racketeering-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) investigation of the Reno City Council.

The “Shameless” post seems to represent the character of these officials.

 

Shameless

When it comes to the city council or the county commission, concerned residents have explained, pressured, embarrassed, and shamed officials of these bodies to no avail.  Most of these officials are shameless.  They are either wholly owned by the special interests, or they act like they are wholly owned by the special interests.  It’s possible that they have some obscure underlying motive.  The maxim “It’s the exception that proves the rule.” applies here too.  Several officials consistently uphold the zoning and approval standards, but these officials can be counted on one hand.  Recent egregious decisions have only affirmed the base motives of the majority of our officials.

The Daybreak appeal before the Regional Planning Board:

  • The flood control measures proposed were implausible.  The developer even admitted that  their scheme would increase the flood risk to downstream neighbors.
  • The Mercury testing was completely inadequate.  It appeared to be designed to miss known Mercury contamination sites on their property.
  • The traffic study was misleading at best, but probably outright fraudulent.  It used limited data from 2010 when data from 2017 was available.

In the face of these facts, voting with the developer were Abbot, Bybee, Hartung, Lawson, Reese, and Weber.

The Meridian 120 Appeal before the Reno City Council:

  • The community hired a traffic consultant that concluded that the developer-commissioned report substantially underestimated the traffic increase.
  • The infrastructure needed is lacking to support this development.
  • Funding for the new fire station is obviously inadequate.
  • There is no secondary fire access.

In the face of these facts, voting with the developer were Delgado, Jardon, Reese, Schieve, and Weber.

The conclusions are inescapable: it’s black and white.  Some neighbors will say “We need to explain to our council member (or commissioner) why this development is a bad idea.”   This is the honorable approach, but the few true public servants understand the issues.  The others understand that they are the servants of the developers and that these concerns don’t matter to their campaign contributions (Reno Swamp).

The carefully reasoned arguments along with the detailed research and expert reviews have almost no impact on official decisions.  “The fix is in.”  It’s time to look for other avenues to block the dangerous and destructive development that gets a rubber stamp from the majority of our elected officials.  There are avenues to block these plans through the courts.  There are also some political challengers that would not be the servants of the developers.  Some of the challengers are no better than the incumbents: they just want their “turn at the trough”.

The way the Nevada statutes (NRS) are written, it’s impossible for residents to petition for judicial review of an arbitrary decision by the city council or county commission if the planning commission decision favored the residents.  I propose a Bill Draft Request to correct the quirk in the statute.  So far, no state assembly or state senate member is willing to introduce it.

Reno Approves all of Meridian 120 South

On June 10, 2020, the Reno City Council approved all 6 villages that compose the Meridian 120 South development.  This property is located south of I-80 across from Boomtown and Cabellas.  The development plan currently calls for 621 homes.  The vote was 5-2 with council members Brekhus and Duerr opposed.  Council members Schieve, Delgado, Reese, Jardon, and Weber voted in favor which is no surprise given the lavish support they receive from development interests (Reno Swamp).  The meeting was not open to the public due to concerns of infection given the pandemic.  Reese made the point that there were over 40 meeting participants joining remotely.  The purpose is to review the tentative maps since the properties are already zoned for residential development.

Previously, villages 1&2 were remanded back to the Planning Commission by the city council.  Villages 5&6 were approved .  Villages 3&4 were denied by the Planning Commission.  The city council had remanded the plan for villages 1&2 back to the Planning Commission without approving or denying.  The city had then been sued by the developer.  The developer “paused” their suit with no settlement.  Reno agreed to bring the entire project before the city council and the developer dropped the suit.

Staff Report

Arlo Stockham, Reno Planning staff, introduced the staff report regarding the development.  The development was brought for approval in three separate applications for villages 1&2, villages 3&4, and villages 5&6.  The developer made a concession to rezone 8 acres that had been zoned industrial-commercial and preserve it as open space.

Heather Manzo presented the staff report (Staff-Report_061020).  She gave a little of the history of the approval process.  Following approval there should be updated traffic studies.  [That would seem to be moot.]

The staff suggested several conditions for approval which the developer would accept.

  • Rock lined detention basins for ground water recharge.
  • Set aside 17 acres for a wildlife corridor.
  • Require review of the final maps with the stakeholders (community)
  • Provide 2.9 acres for a fire station
  • Developer to request re-zoning of the industrial area to open space

Appeals

Ed Kaufer (representing The Society for the Preservation of Verdi) made the following points in his appeal (Kaufer_Appeal).  He identified specific findings that could not be met for this development.

  • When the city annexed the properties the city became responsible for infrastructure and emergency services.  The city has already admitted that they are unable to meet these responsibilities (6/6/08).
  • Developing Verdi is a Tier-4 priority (lowest) in the Re-Imagine Reno master plan.
  • The findings needed to approve the development can not be met.
  • The cost of building and maintaining the fire station will not be met by fees paid by the developer.
  • Key issues of drainage and connectivity are not addressed till later phases of the construction.
  • Secondary fire access needs to be present at the time of the first final map.
  • Staff suggests that each of the three phases be considered as a standalone project.  This makes no sense: phases 1 & 2 depend on later phases for drainage, ingress/egress, fire protection, and connectivity.
  • Multiple water related findings cannot be met.
  • Village 2 has excessive density which does not meet the required findings.

Giddeon Caplovitz (representing The Society for the Preservation of Verdi) presented an appeal (McNeil-Caplovitz_Appeal) regarding emergency services.

  • Fire, Police, and EMS services will be inadequate so as to violate the necessary findings.
  • Fire response time is 11-15 minutes.  The route for a fire engine is quite hazardous.
  • The area is in the Wildland-Urban interface area.  This area has a history of wild fires.
  • Developer fees will only cover a fraction (4%) of the fire protection costs.

Dee Anne Radcliffe (representing The Society for the Preservation of Verdi) presented an appeal (Crabb_Appeal) challenging the developer’s traffic study.

  • The trip-reduction requirements from MGOD were not included in the design.
  • The developer’s traffic study conducted by Paul Soleagui was reviewed by LSC Transportation Consultants at the request of the appellants.
  • The review of the report indicated that the average daily trip calculations done by Soleagui were too low (by 16%).  Soleagui did not follow ITE methodology.
  • Heavy snow that November 2019 resulted in lower-than-average traffic.
  • Coming development at Boomtown is not included.

Radcliffe went on to present a second appeal regarding cluster development in Villages 1&2 (Kaufer-Radcliffe_Appeal).

  • The developer did not follow the SF-15 zoning mistakenly represented as SF-9 by Manzo.
  • The Planning Commission denied the plan as not compliant with the zoning.  The same plan was then approved by the Reno City Council identified as “cluster development”.
  • This development does not meet the Reno criteria for a cluster development.
  • Clustering allows for a 15% reduction in lot size: Villages 1&2 are reducing lots by 23%.
  • The existing neighborhood is 1 acre lots or larger.

Andy Durling of Wood Rogers (representing the developer) gave a presentation (Durling_Appeal) for his appeal seeking approval of villages 3&4 that had been denied by the Planning Commission.  He gave an overview of how the development addresses issues of water, fire protection, traffic, and drainage.

Council member questions

Jardon: She wants to see the pedestrian path completed in some form with the initial construction.  She also wants to see the secondary road be built along with the first construction.  It could be a temporary road, but it needs to go in early.

Brekhus: “What is the city required to do with the wildlife corridor included in the plan?  The city should not have to build or maintain it.”  She asked if it were a project of regional significance.  The answer is “no” since it is below the 625 dwelling-unit threshold.  Since it is covered by the MGOD plan, it would not require further review by TMRPA.

Duerr: “Please explain the requirements for cluster development.”  Concerned by lack of funding for a fire station.  “When will the fire station be built during development?”

Public Comment

The city council received 79 letters in opposition to the project plus 2 letters of concern.  Speakers raised the following concerns.

  • Residents are not within incorporated Reno, and so don’t vote for the city council.
  • The bike path does not meet the Reno standards.
  • The plan does not provide connectivity as required in the master plan.
  • Earlier, there was to be private funding to widen the overpass.  There is no such plan now, so how will this be funded?
  • The high density is still a problem with the design.
  • The developer’s open space designation needs to be made permanent.
  • We need a ground water mitigation plan in place.
  • Wildlife habitat on the property should be protected.
  • Drainage requirements should be specifically spelled out.
  • Taxpayers shouldn’t subsidize emergency services for new development.
  • Many important issues are deferred to “final map” which does not inspire confidence that they are being adequately addressed.
  • The city council has 30 days to decide.  The time should be used to further address concerns that have been raised.
  • There is a trust issue: previous conditions on development have not been upheld.
  • Both of the proposed secondary access routes are problematic.
  • None of the issues that were negotiated 20 years ago are being honored.
  • The bicycle/pedestrian underpass is not safe or convenient.

Council discussion

Brekhus: the underpass available to cyclists and pedestrians requires cleaning and maintenance which it would not get as a cattle crossing.  Brekhus is concerned that the developer may go back to court to get the conditions changed in their favor.  There should be a condition that if the developer seeks relief in the courts regarding this development that this approval is vacated.

Duerr: there should be a requirement to use surface water for the new development except for emergencies and a ground water mitigation plan should be included.  Some habitat mitigation should be in place before construction displaces the wildlife.  The drainage features need to be built in advance so as not to affect downstream neighbors during construction.  Villages 3&4 appear to be too close to I-80 to allow for convenient traffic and occasional storm water run off.  The roads in the development are narrow and not suitable to support traffic from 600 homes.  The fire protection plan sounds inadequate and depending on funding from the city.

Voting on Villages 1&2

  • Jardon moved to uphold the Planning Commission’s approval of Villages 1&2 with the conditions just added.
  • Brekhus does not think there is sufficient discussion of the findings or why the council is making this reversal of the earlier action.  Reno can’t provide fire service at this time.
  • Duerr needs to protect public safety.  She is concerned that water availability is not sufficient.  The secondary access road is not adequate.  She thinks the zoning is suspect.  Fire protection is her greatest concern.
  • All voted in favor except for Brekhus and Duerr (5-2).

Voting on Villages 5&6

  • Jardon moved to uphold the Planning Commission’s approval of Villages 5&6 with the conditions just added.
  • Brekhus can’t make the findings especially regarding the overpass and fire safety.
  • Duerr is concerned about the visual impact on other neighborhoods in addition to the concerns she raised regarding the previous motion.
  • All voted in favor except for Brekhus and Duerr (5-2).

Voting on Villages 3&4

  • Jardon moved to overturn the Planning Commission’s denial of Villages 3&4 with the conditions just added.
  • Brekhus thinks this area will have intensive demands on services that the city can’t support.  This area is zoned Arterial Commercial but is being used for residential.
  • Duerr it is incompatible with the surrounding land use, the traffic impacts, and the scale and intensity is excessive.
  • All voted in favor except for Brekhus and Duerr (5-2).

While some new conditions were placed on the development which will provide some benefit, this is a disappointment to the residents who feel that their community is being overwhelmed.

AGENDA          VIDEO

Regional Board Denies Daybreak Appeal

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

    1. The traffic will become unacceptable
    2. The traffic study was based on an inappropriate review
    3. The traffic study is grossly outdated
    4. The traffic study did not follow acceptable practices.

(Appeal_SCW_061120_Final)

Flooding Issues: Franco Crivelli

    1. The developer plans to flood neighborhoods to the north.
    2. The developer’s mitigation plan won’t work.
    3. The flood modelling used does not show the actual flood risk.
    4. The city has a history of failing to enforce the requirements.
    5. Much of Daybreak is in the Critical Flood Zone.

(Appeal_Crivelli)

Mercury Contamination: Kim Rhodemyre

    1. The Mercury testing method taking surface samples is inadequate.
    2. Areas of known Mercury contamination were not tested.
    3. The mitigation plan is not well defined and poses more risks.
    4. Arsenic contamination is not addressed at all.

(USECC – Daybreak Power Point – Mercury_SCW)

Planning Issues: Jim Lewis

    1. Reno is legally committed to support Daybreak as an outcome of the suit.
    2. There is no such thing as “suburban infill”.  It is a ruse by the developer.
    3. Affordable housing needs to be in Reno’s “core” where costs are lower.
    4. There is dangerous traffic in the South Meadows and construction is not done.
    5. Daybreak has high costs which will be reflected in their home prices.

(Daybreak Development Appeal_JL)

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.

Meeting Agenda  (20-06-11 RPGB Agenda Final       Meeting Video

Daybreak Appeal to Regional Board 6/11

The Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Authority (TMRPA) approved the Daybreak development on January 23, 2020.  Several residents are appealing this decision to the regional board.  Due to the pandemic, the hearing of the appeal was postponed until June 11, 2020.  It will be held at the Washoe County chambers.  Only the TMRPA staff, the appellants, and the applicants (developers) will be present.  The board members representing Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County will join remotely.  No members of the public may attend.  As of Wednesday, June 3, no time has been set for the appeal.

You will not be able to make a public comment in person, but you can submit a public comment by e-mail or by Facebook.  The TMRPA is keeping a log of public comment received on this issue, so if you’ve already sent an e-mail, it appears to be part of the record.  You may also want to express your opinion to one of the board members.  If you have not sent an e-mail expressing your opinion of the appeal, you can send it to input@tmrpa.org .  By Facebook … https://www.facebook.com/tmrpa/ .

See this earlier post for the argument against Daybreak.

See public comment already submitted regarding Daybreak.

TMRPA Board Members

Reno

Sparks

Washoe County

….

No Evans Creek (Ballardini) Annexation

The Reno City Council voted unanimously not to annex the Evans Creek property into the City of Reno.  The parcels are within the City of Reno’s “Sphere of Influence”.  There are four parcels (1019 acres total) owned by the Evans Creek LLC (Stillwater, MN).  The property is also known as Ballardini Ranch.

Angela Fuss, Reno Planning Manager

  • This is a petition for voluntary annexation meaning that it is requested by the developer rather than being selected by the city.
  • The number of homes is not yet determined.  One proposal was for 203 homes while the later one was for 1256 homes (the maximum allowable under expected zoning).  The terrain will not allow the maximum number to be built.  The final count is likely to be closer to 600.
  • There is no development plan or master plan amendment at this time.  It is not a requirement for annexation.
  • The property has two entrances.  From the North, it can be accessed from McCarran Blvd.  From the South, it can be accessed by Lonetree Lane which is not paved.
  • The majority of the homes would be built on the northern parcel which has slopes of roughly 15% while the southern parcels have slopes around 30%.
  • A 2016 study revealed excess supply in expensive single family homes with more demand for multi-family and affordable homes.  “Reno needs a balance of different types of housing.”
  • The list of properties that Reno wants to annex has not been updated since 2010.

Nathan Gilbert, representing the developer

  • The Reno planning staff has twice submitted reports recommending “unconditional approval”.
  • The development would feature “high end” homes on large lots that would be a fiscal benefit to Reno.

Councilmember Brekhus:

  • The zoning on the southern properties would indicate a total of 40 residential units.  These would be 5-40 acre lots.  There is an excess supply of such homes according to the 2016 study.
  • This has been categorized as a “Tier-2” property for annexation.  That means it is lower priority than “Tier-0” or “Tier-1”.
  • The city committed to do an inventory of properties that could be developed within Reno’s Sphere of Influence in 2018.  This has not been done.

Councilmember Duerr:

  • The developer did not provide detail required for the slope requested nor did they provide a concurrent master plan to relate back to the Reno master plan (Re-Imagine Reno).
  • Residents are concerned what the development will look like, and the council needs to understand the purpose.
  • The two access points are insufficient for a 1,000 acre development.
  • Sewer service would be provided by the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility which is already operating at capacity.
  • There are conflicting claims of water rights and water easements.  These should be resolved before annexation.
  • Following annexation, Reno will be responsible for sewer, water, fire protection and police protection.
  • A number of fires have started on this property and have grown to damage homes on neighboring properties.

Trey Palmer, Fire Marshall

  • The closest Reno Fire Department station to the property is #7 on Skyline which could get to the property’s northern entrance in 2-4 minutes.  The response to any home would be longer given that it is such a large property.
  • The fire engine response from the South would be problematic.  The nearest station is #12 and it is not close.  Fire response would further be hindered by the state of Lonetree Lane.
  • This property is at the Urban/Wildland interface and is considered a high fire hazard area.  There is a history of fires originating on the property.

Public comment messages received:

1 letter in support; 55 letters in opposition; 30 letters expressing concern

Public Comment by remote phone:

The attorney for the Pines property to the west of the Evans Creek wants to see the city annex the Evans Creek property.  He wants to see the planning be coordinated with the Pines property for roadway, utilities and trails.

Duerr moved not to annex at this time for the following reasons.

  • Inadequate access
  • Housing type not needed now
  • High fire hazard and poor fire fighting access
  • Water issues unresolved
  • Number of homes undetermined

Councilmember Reese seconded

Brekhus, Duerr, Reese, Delgado, Schieve, Weber, and Jardon voted “aye” remotely.