TMRPA Retreat 8/16/18

The planning agency had a retreat at the Washoe Public House banquet room.  A buffet lunch was provided for TMRPA board members. (18-08-16 RPGB Agenda Final)

This was a very candid discussion of the issues and concerns facing Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County.  No conclusions were reached.  The goal was to provide the Echo Northwest consulting company with information for them to work on plans for the area.  There was little discussion of how infrastructure repairs and improvements could be paid for.


  • (MB) Marsha Berkbigler, Washoe County Commission
  • (VH) Vaughan Hartung, Washoe County Commission
  • (JH) Jeanne Herman, Washoe County Commission
  • (JB) Jenny Brekhus, Reno City Council
  • (PM) Paul McKenzie, Reno City Council
  • (ND) Naomi Duerr, Reno City Council
  • (DB) David Bobzien, Reno City Council
  • (CB) Charlene Bybee, Sparks City Council
  • (JS) Jeremy Smith, planner, TMRPA
  • (DA) Donald Abbott
  • (EL) Ed Lawson

Points made (may not be exactly verbatim)

  • “Where can we go to grow? We’re looking at heavy growth, but we’re still working off a 2007 plan.” (MB)
  • “Governor’s Office for Economic Development is pushing us for more growth” (??)
  • “The state is watching our process.” (DB)
  • “As we develop out, we deal with the problems after the development. We’re just reacting when there are problems.  The RTC impact fees are less than ¼ the cost of the growth.”  (PM)
  • “We’re having trouble with wastewater treatment everywhere. It’s close to a crisis for TMWRF.  We have no excess waste water treatment capacity anywhere in the county.” (PM)
  • “We’re so far behind on our infrastructure, we’ll never be able to ‘pay as you go’. We’ll need bonding and long-term debt.” (PM)
  • “It’s risky to front-load infrastructure.” (VH)
  • “We shouldn’t have a moratorium on construction in the North Valleys because building drives improvements. If the development stops, there will be no incentive to address the problems.  Growth has to proceed infrastructure.” (VH)
  • “Stormwater volume is an issue. Flood prevention is a $100M problem just in her ward.” (ND)
  • “Parks are a challenge. She has just met with another developer who wants to climb up the hillside.”  She wants a wide swath of parkland in the south hills.  “South Valley residents feel betrayed at loss of access to open space.” (ND)
  • “Urban development is going to encroach on the South Valleys and the residents will need to adjust. We will need to hear their concerns and try to compromise.”  (MB)
  • “There’s a question of connectivity from South Meadows toward Storey County. Blockchain just bought 60,000 acres.” (ND)
  • “Infrastructure planning is key. Property tax formula is broken.  Roads in Nevada are a nightmare.  Sewer capacity is the principal limit on growth.  We’re at capacity right now.” (CB)
  • “When we approve everything, nothing gets built (infrastructure).” (JB)
  • “We could have done Verdi right 6 years ago, but now we can’t fix it.” (JB)
  • “We may need a moratorium in the North Valleys.” (JB)
  • “The index fuel tax is a convenient funding source until the voters revolt.” (JB)
  • “We need to bounce back and go back to the data. Reno’s roads are falling apart and there will be a revolution.”  (JB)
  • “We will want to be able to get around without a car. I’m concerned about air quality.” (DA)
  • “The sewer plant is going to stop growth. More development can not be approved without expanding capacity.  Infill is the cheapest and easiest way to grow, but sewer pipes and treatment are inadequate.  Are we planning to be like Las Vegas?  Are we planning for 2 million population?” (EL)
  • “We need to shut off growth in the North Valleys.” (PM)
  • “We need to consider which projects will really come to fruition. A developer will come through with a big project that will never happen and use up all the Oxygen.” (JB)
  • “Sewer capacity is at the top of the list. Staff, how do we fix it since most of our growth will occur in the North?” (MB)
  • “We’ll see legislation (state) regarding area growth.” (MB)
  • “We dropped the ball years ago on transit. We should have a train going out the East Truckee Meadows Canyon.” (VH)
  • “We should have the developers put in the sewer system the way it is done in other cities. I know developers who would do it.” (JH)
  • “TMWA is forecasting that the effects of climate change will require the need for four more reservoirs the size of Boca due to warmer, drier weather.” (DB)
  • “Are we too invested in cars with a single passenger? We should be anticipating the arrival of autonomous vehicles and new transportation technology.” (DB)
  • “Hotels are the single biggest water users.” (VH)
  • “We have a lot more geothermal power opportunity than we’re using.” (ND)
  • “We can get to about 680k population with the current zoning with the addition of 90,000 dwelling units.” (JS)
  • “The 20-yr consensus plan is to add 109,000 population (451,000 to 560,000) by 2038. This will require 42,000 more dwelling units.  There are already 70,000 dwelling units approved but not completely built.” (JS)
  • “We could reduce congestion if we built live-work-play communities which would not require commuting.” (MB)
  • “If we’re assuming most of the growth will come in the North, we need to figure out what to do about closed basins.” (MB)
  • “The city’s tree initiative should be included in the big master plan to address climate change.” (ND)
  • “We need to remap the flood areas in the region. We’re working with dishonest data.” (JB)
  • “Incorporate public opinion as we go forward with development. Unincorporated Washoe County residents don’t want suburbia invading them.  A lot of residents are attending meetings to protest.  They are putting a stake in the ground to defend their quality of life.  Incomes are slipping in the unincorporated county.  Recently, a developer sued an HOA in the unincorporated county.” (ND)
  • “The urban density growth needs to come to the unincorporated county and the long time residents will just have to adjust to it.” (MB)
  • “The Governors Office of Economic Development (GOED) is pushing growth in Northern Nevada.” (??)
  • “Air quality is barely compliant with minimal Federal standards. The local agency makes an effort to make the data look good.” (JS)

Jeremy Smith presented his “hexagon map” showing factors that facilitate growth in the county.  This includes transportation, sewer capacity, and other factors.  You can find growth maps on their website.

>>>>> Next meeting will be September 24, 2018


My “take-aways” …

  1. We don’t need any new development plans for the next 20 years. We have already approved 70,000 new dwelling units when only 42,000 are needed to meet the requirements of the growth plan till 2038.
  2. Sewer plumbing and treatment capacity is at it’s limit. It won’t support further growth at this point.
  3. Commissioners Berkbigler and Hartung are the champions for continued growth consistent with the GOED even if it is unpopular.
  4. There seems to be a growing sentiment that development in the North Valleys can’t proceed until issues are addressed.