MidtownsignThis is a call to action.  The Reno Planning Commission has approved a plan to drastically reduce the allowed residential zoning density within the “Midtown Residential District”, generally the part of Midtown west of SVA.  Their recommendations will be heard by the Reno City Council in early October, and it is critical that you contact you Council representative and voice your opposition to this revision.

Reno established the South Virginia Transit Oriented District (TOD) to promote the development of urban scale improvements along the South Virginia Street corridor.  The TOD was sort of pushed through at a time when Federal Recovery dollars were available for shovel ready projects, and the physical improvements have been impressive.  But a lot of planning considerations got thrown under the bus in the process.

The Midtown District is the northern section of the TOD.  It inherited zoning intensities generally based on the pre-existing zoning.  In some areas, this was MF30 (30 units per acre).  In other areas, it is more prescriptive and allows up to MF45.  In reality, lot sizes, setbacks, and height restrictions make developing a standard 50’x140′ lot to over MF30 (4 units per lot) is almost impossible.  The current proposal is to take the Midtown Residential section of the plan down to MF21 – 3 units per lot.  The current prescriptive zoning allows up to MF45.

Urban Planning 101 – People will walk 1/4 mile (3 blocks) to utilize effective  public transportation.  So anything within 1320′ (I looked it up) of SVA should have zoning densities that support the TOD.  Can anyone explain to me why 75% of the proposed Midtown Residential district is within 1/4 mile of world class public transportation and is proposed to be down zoned to suburban standards?

Urban Planning 201 – Comprehensive planning is not a team sport.  I applaud Reno’s Panning Department for involving the “community” in gathering input for revisions to the Midtown Plan.  But nowhere did I expect them to cave in to the “demands” of the community activists over sound long range planning concerns.  And then the Planning Commission also took the easy way out and rubber stamped the Plan with all its gaping flaws.  Who is the keeper of the vision, and why are they not being heard from?

Urban Planning 301 –  Reno has a long term vision to allow the South Virginia Corridor to develop into a Transit Oriented Development, and it is working well so far especially in the Midtown district.  TODs need density, and some “well meaning” residents in the Midtown District like what they have – they don’t want to allow the densification supporting the TOD to go forward at the expense of their little paradises.  The owners occupants driving this proposal represent less than 20% of the properties in the district – one that is over 90% renter occupied.  They do NOT represent the majority of real stakeholders (renters) in the overreaching planning goal to create and sustain a thriving Midtown.

This one is important.  Please contact your Council member to voice your opinions on this issue.  Let’s move Reno forward for once.