Upcoming City Countil Meeting Tidbits

by Mike Van Houten / Nov 17, 2015

Things to pay attention to in the next Reno City Council meeting.

Onsite Digital Displays

1. On-Premise Digital Display - It looks like the city council will adopt ordinances for on-site digital displays. This includes locations and types, restrictions along the Truckee River, and more.

ReTRAC Cover Ideas

2. Presentation on Most Popular ReTRAC Plan to Council, and possible action moving forward involving the Nevada Museum of Art. Recently, there is a resurgence of interest, as described in the Staff Report, in the covers once again, both by the surrounding properties (Montage, Whitney Peak, Eldorado). Public input was gathered at a DICE event at the Nevada Museum of Art, a special Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board meeting was held, the Regional Alliance for Downtown talked about it, and local properties got involved, and amazingly, all came to a consensus on what to do with the ReTRAC covers. If you aren't familiar or are new to the city, the ReTRAC covers are the train trench covers spanning the area between Virginia Street and West Street. Sierra Street cuts through the middle of the two covers. The consensus is, it would best serve downtown to resemble the La Rambla Plaza in Barcelona, Spain. See pic below:

Areas of Consensus:

1. Plant trees along the north and south sides of the cover, and plant grass, shrubs and planters where applicable.

2. Install twinkle lights on the trees.

3. Add lighting along the trench for night activities, while minimizing impact on residents neighboring the trench covers.

4. Create permanent infrastructure for shade.

5. Include art elements, especially sculptures.

6. Consider historic elements.

7. Create a dog park on the west cover

8. Explore use of distinctive pavement treatments

9. Explore use of parklets for temporary seating.

10. Create opportunities for retail

11. Explore feasibility of abandoning Commercial Row between Arlington and Sierra

After presenting to the council, the next step is to have a charette at the Nevada Museum of Art and come back to the council with a final plan. The process is primarily being funded by a private party. There are several grants that provide significant community support when it comes to projects such as this, particularly when it involves art.

Lost City Farm

The City Council may approve some staff time to explore city-owned parcels and see if any are a fit for Lost City Farms, which is losing its Midtown home on Center Street and Moran, due to increased interest in developing the large lot.

Motels on the Agenda

You might remember my report on this RAAB Meeting, where standards for downtown motels were discussed, which morphed into a much larger, deeper discussion about some of the core issues surrounding extended-stay housing in basic motel rooms retrofitted with a refrigerator.

Two items on the city council agenda should be interesting extensions of that discussion. One, brought forth my councilwoman Jardon, and discussed in that RAAB meeting, would be exploring the potential of retrofitting downtown rentals with kitchenettes to provide quality low income housing, and the other relates to reviewing the lodger's tax, taking into consideration motel occupancy, blight conditions, etc.

Gotta Pee!

Also on the agenda is to have city staff identify possible bus stop locations for public restrooms.

Staff Reports - Warning - it's 536 pages.

City Council Meeting 11-18-15 Agenda

Post your comments
  • November 17, 2015 - 7:56:32 PM

    I'm glad the nearby properties are into the idea of a "Las Ramblas" style path along the trench. One priority the city council should try to adopt is covering the remainder of the trench out to Keystone, one block at a time if necessary, with gaps in between if necessary, and figuring out ways to work with properties along the trench to make it happen when there would be a clear benefit to doing so. One great example is the Sands Regency. Turning Commercial Row into a nice, parklike atmosphere by using the train trench space and abandonment if necessary would likely be a catalyst for more investment in the area.

  • November 18, 2015 - 7:20:27 AM

    "The consensus is, it would best serve downtown to resemble the La Rambla Plaza in Barcelona, Spain." While they're at it why don't they turn Virginia Lake into Central Park.

  • November 19, 2015 - 4:41:53 PM

    Sara Lee, I have to say, I think having an aspiration for the area is not a bad thing. Roll your eyes all you want, but the goal of turning that public space into a nice one, in the hands of a united adjacent property owners, is a good and achievable goal. Reno will be rough around the edges for a long time to come, but journeys begin with a step.

  • November 20, 2015 - 7:49:40 AM

    Ever been to Barcelona, Ken?

  • November 20, 2015 - 8:09:46 AM

    I have not been to Spain, unfortunately, but I have seen photos of said plaza, and I think the goal here is not to replicate the plaza but simply to install trees, landscaping, etched or patterned concrete, places to set, structure for shade, maybe an opportunity for retail, and lots of art. This isn't a foreign concept to Reno, they've been installing quite of a bit of large scale sculpture art lately, and I think it's a great, attainable goal for an often-unused public space in the heart of downtown.

  • November 20, 2015 - 9:22:10 AM

    Instead of invoking the name of one of the greatest plazas in the world, maybe it'd be a better idea to say the city of Reno is looking into dumping more Burning Man art in a desolate stretch of concrete downtown. And that they'd like to plant more trees that they also won't be able to properly care for in a drought region. Now that's something I feel like the City Council and their casino interests downtown might be able to pull off if they really pull together!

  • November 20, 2015 - 10:13:15 AM

    Yes, Sara Lee, I have been to Barcelona. I think that there is a good deal of potential with the trench, covered, to create a series of plazas connected via a pathway to connect central downtown to the west end of downtown. Do we need more investment and more development in Reno to get to a place where it's got more cachet? Yes. Are the covers that have been built presently a disgrace to the city by dint of being unfinished? Yes. Will improving them help the area? I'm gonna go ahead and say, yes. Agree that Barcelona and Reno is apples and oranges and that's a very generous analogy, but there's an opportunity to make a long-overdue improvement in that area and I'm fully in support.

  • November 20, 2015 - 10:22:15 AM

    Also, Sara Lee, say what you will about Reno, and I know you will, but Reno has done a good job maintaining the improved public spaces under its purview downtown, and throughout the city. If we get to the point where we can't water trees, we'll have more important things to debate than whether to make improvements to this plaza.