"Reimagine Reno" Master Plan Forecasts Next 20 Years

Aug 1, 2017

After two years of discussions, debates and drafts, the city of Reno is close to finalizing a new 20-year master plan. But what does that mean for the city and its residents?

Reno Public Radio’s Noah Glick checks in on the project, which has been dubbed “Reimagine Reno.”

Dozens of residents gather alongside officials and hired consultants to discuss the final components of the new master plan.

Sienna Reid is a senior planner for the city. She says the vision came directly from public input.

“The community would like to see the city become a base for outdoor recreation opportunities, an arts and culture center, and then kind of tied for third, a university town and technology center,” she says.

To help get there, the city of Reno hired consultants from Denver, including Darcie White. She says Reno’s history as a gaming town presents a unique challenge moving forward.

“What we heard from the community is, ‘We don’t necessarily want gambling to go away,’ and the plan certainly doesn’t suggest that,” she says. “But what we are recognizing is that the city’s maturing. You’ve got a changing population who has different wants and needs and expectations.”

More than 6,000 people took part in the initial vision phase, which began two years ago.

Fred Tholke is a lifelong Reno resident and retired utilities planner. He says he’s never seen this kind of outreach from the city. But he’s cautiously optimistic and wants to see that real progress will be made.

“In my own career, I’ve seen too many projects like this that, you know, people get real excited about it in the beginning, and then they start to lose track of them over time,” he says.

To keep track, officials developed a detailed implementation plan. It breaks down the city’s vision into eight key strategies—from developing a resilient economy and thriving downtown to managing growth and connecting the region. Each section has more than a dozen action items, complete with responsible agencies, timing and required resources.

ReImagine Reno Implementation Plan by KUNR Reno Public Radio on Scribd

Reno City Coucilwoman Naomi Duerr says it basically serves as a way to set ideas in motion.

“We are at the point where the global, sort of general concepts are translated into specific policies,” she says. “We say we want more art in our city, or we want higher quality of life, or that we love the outdoor spaces. How do we translate that into action?”

The implementation plan also outlines several priorities for the city. Those include beefing up affordable housing options, updating the annexation code and pursuing additional funding opportunities, among others.

Here’s Councilwoman Duerr.

“Well, one of the big issues that the city council’s been focusing on, of course, is basically reimagining our downtown, and dealing with blight and dealing with homelessness,” she says.

Officials and residents alike see the need to prioritize affordable housing. Reno resident Ruth Stacy works with ACTIONN, a local group that advocates for the homeless community.

“You’ve got to have workforce housing, so people like you and I can still afford a place to live and some hope of buying a home eventually,” she says. “So that means that the whole idea of a home is going to have to change to where, maybe you live in an apartment building or you live in a condominium.”

The master plan does offer recommendations on how to tackle affordable housing. Some suggestions include reducing or waiving city fees to incentivize construction, and identifying city-owned properties that could be converted into housing.

Stacy says this entire master plan process offers Reno a new direction, and a way for the city to dust off its old image.

“It’s been a poor little ol’ town really in my opinion, and it was sort of a sad town to me,” she says. “But I’ve got hope.”

Last week, the Reno City Council and Planning Commission unanimously voted to adopt the final two sections of the master plan, with some edits. The goal is to have this plan ready for action by early November.

This month, community meetings will be held in each city ward to go over the plan. And officials are taking feedback through August 25.

An online survey and an updated land use map can be found at the Reimagine Reno website.

ReImagine Reno Master Plan (Full) by KUNR Reno Public Radio on Scribd