Extra! Extra!

There’s lots of news, folks.  Check it out!  Watch our “In the Media” page.

Residents sue over Wildcreek Golf Course destruction for a school.  The Save Wildcreek organization is claiming the school project violates that area plan and that the sales price is below the market value.  The action is an injunction against the school board moving forward with the plan.  The lawsuit names the school board, the Reno-Sparks Visitors and Convention Authority, the Washoe County Board of Commissioners and the City of Sparks as defendants.  Washoe County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung and Sparks City Councilman and RSCVA board member Ed Lawson were left out of the suit. Both voted against the sale of the proposed land.  It’s a tough issue.  The school is needed, but based on a number of factors, the golf course is not be a good location.  LINK

Reno knew that Lemmon Valley would flood, but approved development there anyway.  Scandalous!  Development worsens flooding in two ways.  First, the development means more pavement and surfaces that are impervious to water thus restricting the absorption of water into the soil.  Second, is that more development means more volume processed by the water treatment plant which is pumped into Swan Lake after it is partially treated.  Swan Lake then floods the neighborhoods.  LINK

The Washoe County Planning Commission over-ruled the residents’ concerns and approved the new Lemmon Valley Heights development (Lawson and Burns voted “no”).  This is remarkable malfeasance given that some of the property has been underwater for over a year.  Their proposed solution is to build catch basins as part of the development.  An experienced hydrologist has remarked that catch basins will be ineffective against flooding in this situation.  The residents will appeal to the Washoe County Commission.  The county commissioners will have an opportunity to demonstrate their integrity or to confirm that they represent the developers, not the residents.  LINK

Have you heard of the Land Use Bill?  The out-of-state developers have.  Basically, there are 73,000 acres of BLM land from Pyramid Lake to Carson City.  Much of it is in scattered parcels.  County commissioners have traveled to Washington DC to lobby Senator Heller and Representative Amodei to support a bill to transfer these properties to the cities and the county.  Once transferred, these properties could be sold to developers.  This sale would enable a huge burst in development (think of Phoenix) and expected official malfeasance.  Selling off public lands to private owners has long been an element of Republican orthodoxy.  Amodei and Heller are likely predisposed to support it.  But, this is an election year.  Please e-mail, write or call these two to express your opposition to such a bill.  It is enough to say “I am opposed to such a bill.”  LINK

Representative Mark Amodei contact

Senator Dean Heller contact

Last and least … Steve Wolgast has announced his candidacy for County Commissioner in District 2 in a bid to replace Bob Lucey.  His platform is to faithfully represent the residents, homeowners, and taxpayers of Washoe County.  This is not being done at present.  His primary platform is to see smart growth as opposed to the irresponsible plans we see now.  Wish him luck.  Look for his information at http://www.wolgast4washoe.com (it’s not visible on Google yet).  Contact him at stevecwolgast@gmail.com.

Join Together, Saturday

If you haven’t seen it on Nextdoor, we’ll have a neighborhood meeting at 4:30 at the South Valley Library, Saturday, March 10.

We’ll be discussing …

  • Steve’s candidacy
  • WRAP activity and strategy
  • The new Land Use Grab Bill

I hope we have a good turnout.  It’s been a long time since our last meeting.  The WRAP steering group didn’t want to schedule a meeting till we had identified a candidate.  It’s a while till the election, but there’s work we need to be doing now.  I know it’s short notice, but there are limited openings in the Library’s schedule.  I expect to hold the meeting to 90 minutes or less.  There will be time after the meeting to talk to each other individually.

“The Candidate”

No, it’s not Robert Redford from the 1972 movie.

The WRAP group sought a candidate to run against Lucey.  We needed a candidate with intelligence, integrity, and a knowledge of how the county worked.  We were hoping to find a Republican given the party affiliations in District 2.  We thought of a few good candidates, but none was willing to run.  A political consultant told us that finding a good candidate would be the hardest part of defeating Lucey.

So, we’re supporting a candidate who is neither a Republican nor has extensive experience with the county; me.  But, I will staunchly represent the homeowners and taxpayers of District-2 and of the county as a whole.  I will advance their interests against those of the developers or other commercial enterprises.  The commissioners taking the side of developers over homeowners is at the root of the terrible problems we’re suffering related to development.

My principals:

  • Development must be a net benefit for existing homeowners in the area.
  • Development must be sustainable relative to water availability, flood drainage, and wildfire hazard.
  • Development should follow the area plans and Re-imagine Reno so as to retain the character of the area.  We don’t want to be like Phoenix or Vegas with urban sprawl.
  • Taxpayers need to be confident that they are getting value for their revenues.  Coordination with Reno should not impose a burden on taxpayers outside the city.
  • I will not accept campaign contributions or any favor or consideration from a party with business before the commission.
  • Engineering reports must be accurate for safe development: current reports are of dubious merit.
  • Development should not disrupt the wildlife and should not cause long-term environmental harm.

I have started a website: wolgast4washoe.com.  I’m not sure it’s accessible yet.  I will be introducing myself at our next neighborhood meeting.

I will need the support of the community for my bid for office to have any chance.  Come to me with your ideas and concerns.

Steve Wolgast


I was pleased to get this endorsement from a WRAP follower (ML) who is familiar with the County.

“My favorite thing about WRAP is it allows a wide range of Washoe residents to offer their perspectives on issues of mutual concern despite our varied political views. WRAP does not care if I am a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or Independent. The group simply cares that I wish to maintain the quality of life we cherish and that I advocate for responsible and appropriate growth and planning. While WRAP is an excellent forum for us to express our concerns about irresponsible growth and development, it goes beyond that and is an organizing body that takes thoughtful action at planning commission meetings and board of commission hearings. It is also a uniting force that brings together citizens in all commission districts to fight against bad development. The group has been defeated in more than a few battles so far, but those battles have uncovered the deficiencies that exist in the current review and approval processes and more importantly they have revealed a commission that favors ANY AND ALL development regardless of harm to existing communities. I am working to effect change in the approval process that currently does not provide an independent review of questionable reports used in supporting irresponsible development. My next blog will address that more specifically. In the meantime I encourage you to follow WRAP and share it with your friend and neighbors. United we can make a positive change in Washoe County. ”  ML

=> NEW

  • Check out my notes from meeting with Mike Kazmierski of EDAWN.  While he is a growth advocate he is concerned about poorly planned growth too.
  • See new additions to “In the Media” and “Washoe Development”.



The sign outside the county auditorium requests polite behavior.  This is consistent with Nevada’s friendly culture which allows friendships across extreme political divides and frank discussions of hot-button topics.  I find it refreshing compared to the more hardened ideological positions I saw in the Bay Area.  But, there is a time to fight.  When your planning commissioner votes to increase the traffic on your road by a factor of 5 because the developer gave him a big discount on a new home, it’s not time to be polite.  When your commissioner votes against your appeal because the developer made a big contribution to her campaign fund, it’s not time to be polite.  The planning commissioners tell you to show up at meetings and to make carefully researched and reasoned arguments, but they know that it’s just for show: “the fix was in” before the meeting started.   Making polite arguments can distract us from exercising the power we possess as voters.

Latest dirt:

During Valentines Day dinner, the Reno City Council approved the StoneGate development despite unresolved issues of traffic, water, sewage treatment, fire protection, and schools.  It’s a slow-motion train wreck like we’ve seen elsewhere, but on a huge scale. It is in character that the City would review it when the public wouldn’t be present.  To her credit, Commissioner Brekhus voted “no”.  See news coverage LINK1 LINK2 .

The Golden Valley Remediation Plan proposed by Commissioner Herman was not even put on the agenda of the County Commission.  She was voted down by the other commissioners.  But, if 50 attendees at a meeting insist on an agenda item it must be added (per Teresa Aquila).  To add insult to injury, the commissioners voted to replace Herman with Lucey on the TMWA board.  Herman voted against the change but lost 4-1.  This change will certainly not help south county residents.

Info Overload:

If you want to know what the county is doing and are ready to fill your e-mail with announcements, you can go to http://www.washoecounty.us/cmail to sign up for upcoming agenda items throughout the county.

Express yourself!

Changing the way the Washoe Planning Commission and the County Commission operate will need to be a grassroots effort.  We need to inform and motivate people to effect the change.  Against us will be a lot of developer money producing slick ads and spreading disinformation to discredit us and our positions.  Our strength comes from the many residents who are enraged, disgusted, or disheartened by the way developments are spoiling our neighborhoods and the Truckee Meadows in general.  Part of our effort is to keep the current problems in the public eye.

  • Write a letter to the Reno Gazette Journal: 160 words maximum, your name, your city, your address (not published), and your phone number (not published).  Use the form on the RGJ website or sent your letter to “letters@rgj.com”  Shorter letters are welcome: RGJ will come up with a title.
  • Write a letter to This Is Reno: send it to Bob Conrad; bob@thisisreno.com .
  • Post your opinions on Facebook and include a reference to washoerap.com .

Topics you might want to address:

  • Development in Washoe County is out of control!  There are over 100 approved development projects that have not been built.  More are in the works.
  • Why don’t the planning commissioners and county commissioners have the discipline to follow the area plans and established zoning?
  • Will we have broader, regional flooding problems given the area of the Great Basin that is being paved?
  • How do our development plans address the coming drought and the many drought years to come?  I have heard that the state regulators laugh at TMWA for their reckless commitments.
  • Why is it OK for county commissioners to accept campaign contributions from developers and then to judge their projects?  A small amount of the contributions are idenified; the others are hidden using lawyers and lobbyists as middle-men.
  • Reno was identified as one of the top 25 destinations by Outdoor Magazine.  But, we are developing the Steamboat Hills that are desirable for horseback riding and mountain biking.  If we want tourism, we need to preserve the rugged beauty of the Great Basin.
  • Pell mell development is supported by the city and county partly because the tax revenues are like a ponzi scheme.  This is worsened by the unfair property tax formula that depreciates older homes of comparable value to new homes.
  • We have a shortage of affordable housing, but the majority of the new homes are in the $500,000 to $1,500,000 price range.  The commissioners say “We need the housing and it’s not our problem if it’s not affordable.”
  • Why isn’t there a requirement that some of the new homes are built with solar panels to power air conditioning?  This is incorporated in many new developments in California.  It’s a benefit to the buyer because the solar system cost becomes part of the mortgage and the utility savings are immediate.
  • What about protecting our wildlife?  The planning commission ignores the issue of the destruction of habitat for eagles, deer and many other native species; even ones with federal protection.
  • Fire services for both Reno and Truckee meadows are presently stretched scandalously thin.  How will we support additional residents?

Your letter or post will remind readers of the ongoing problems and motivate them to effect change.  As the author, you may find it cathartic to make your point and “get it out of your system”.

Good Development

We tend to see “development” and “bad development” as synonymous.  This is largely a legitimate conclusion in Washoe County.  Bad development can bring bad traffic, flooding, school overcrowding, environmental degradation, water insecurity, fire hazard, and loss of outdoor recreation.  Bad development impacts the new homebuyers as well.  They may be part of the problem, but they are victims too.   The Washoe County Planning Commission (backed by the County Commission) has allowed zoning variations and permitted violations of plans and guidelines to allow the bad developments to proceed.  They have compounded this by ignoring CAB recommendations and public comment. Talking to our commissioners, I get the impression they feel obliged to guarantee the developers’ profits.  They will accept higher housing density and noncompliances to this end.  The commissioners seem to accept that development is detrimental to homeowners and that they should accept the loss.

But, it does not have to be that way.  Road improvements, flood mitigation, school development and low-impact design can result in new developments that benefit existing residents.  How about some playgrounds and bike paths and community centers?  Good development is possible, and we must insist on it.  Once the majority of the Great Basin is paved and suffering gridlock, it’s too late to enforce our standards.

We are derided as NIMBY’s (Not In My Backyard), an acronym promoted by the real estate associations.  I respond that this is not true: we want our standards enforced.