RefractionI’m the chairman of my HOA’s Architectural Review Committee.  I review issues big and small, but my overriding mission is to find ways for our homeowners to achieve what they want to build under our rules and regulations.  Getting to Yes.

Dealing with Reno’s Planning Department has become a study of Getting to No.  The Zoning Code is a frigging mess, and Planning is quick to point out why you can’t do things and slow to point out why you can.  They are creating adversarial relationships with the design and development communities when we should all be working together for the betterment of our City.  If you want to totally geek out, take a look at the discrepancies between Tables 18.08.26 and 18.12.15 – what IS the residential landscape requirement in a MU Zone?  It is crystal clear to me that it is 10% based on the Mixed Use table, yet Planning insists it is 20%.  You can’t have an effective code that is based on “Mother May I”.

I don’t want to air dirty laundry (sure glad THAT wasn’t my lead image!) on current projects, but I do want to state for the record what is happening due to the antagonistic relationship Planning has established.  I have more units under development in Sparks right now than in Reno.  My Midtown developer clients are moving their money to Sparks.  Sparks has very clear planning requirements in their TOD (Google “sparks tod”), are gracious and helpful.  Little things like codifying that parking requirements round down instead of up (Reno – a 2 bedroom SFR in Midtown in a Transit Corridor has a HIGHER parking requirement than a similar unit in Somersett!).  That’s OK I suppose, it’s in the Code, but is killing infill development it the Transit Corridors.

I don’t mean to rant, but people always ask me “where’s next?”.  Reno is pathologically reinforcing that “next” is Sparks and Victorian Square.  The development center of gravity is definitely moving East, the E 4th Street Transit Corridor improvements start in a couple of months and will make getting to Downtown Sparks as fast and easy as getting to Midtown.  Midtown Transit Corridor Improvements are sliding into 2018 or later, if the business owners – RTC – Complete Streets folks can’t start agreeing on a plan.

Reno can’t afford to think it is the only game in town anymore, or we will continue to lose any development momentum we have going.  It needs to proactively help us in the industry getting Yes.

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