Top headlines from the Board of County Commissioners Meeting

by | May 10, 2022

The following are highlights from today’s Washoe County Board of County Commissioners meeting:

  1. Amended allocations of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds approved: The Board of County Commissioners approved the amended allocations of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds through the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund and Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF). The amended funds will benefit several housing and homelessness services including the Safe Camp Capital project in a total amount of $4,693,132 (an increase of $193,132 over the $4,500,000 allocated and approved by the Board on July 20, 2021) for the purpose of providing project engineering services including design, bidding and permitting, construction surveying, construction observation, materials testing subconsultants and value engineering services; Our Place enhancements project in a total amount of $926,477 (an increase of $476,477 over the $450,000 allocated and approved by the Board on December 14, 2021); and the Our Place Community Garden Fencing project, in a total amount of $164,377 (an increase of $34,377 over the $130,000 allocated and approved by the Board on December 14, 2021).

Acting County Manager Dave Solaro noted, “There are a few items on this agenda where it appears like Washoe County is allocating millions of dollars toward the homelessness initiatives, that I wanted to address for the community. While there is a request for additional Rescue Plan Act funds for three programs associated with homelessness, that’s due to the increasing cost for construction related services for projects that have already been allocated by the board.” Solaro continued, “Today’s agenda calls for the award of the contracts for actual construction, which previously had been allocated by this board.”

  1. Board approves agreement for services to operate a Housing Stability Self-Help Desk: In the final allocation of the $6,564,663.20 grant from the U.S. Department of the Treasury for the Washoe Housing Assistance for COVID Relief Program, the board today approved an agreement for professional services between Washoe County and Washoe Legal Services to operate a Housing Stability Self-Help Desk at the Reno Justice Court, beginning May 11, 2022 to September 30, 2022. The purpose of the Self-Help Desk is to provide housing stability services to county residents facing eviction and other forms of housing instability. To meet these needs, the Housing Stability Self-Help Desk will provide services including assistance completing court-related forms related to eviction mediation, notarizing court paperwork, providing referrals and resources for legal advice and housing stability services, assist clients with applying for emergency rental assistance, and more. The grant requires that all Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA1) funds be expended by September 30, 2022.
  2. Board Votes to Approve Short Term Rental Ordinance Amendment: The Board of County Commissioners voted to adopt an ordinance amending Washoe County Code governing Short Term Rentals (STRs). Washoe County began permitting short-term rentals (STRs) in May 2021, with the Community Services Department approaching the summer season as a pilot to see what issues may arise and how the code might be amended to better serve resident/owners of STRs. Based on public meetings with residents and STR owners, the Community Services Department presented suggested revisions to the STR code at the January 25, 2022 Board of County Commissioners meeting, many of which were adopted today. Ordinance changes include modifying the maximum occupancy calculation, outlining minimum insurance requirements, excludes overflow parking spaces in condominium or multi-family complexes in the calculation of required parking spaces, and provides that a bear box is required in the Incline Village General Improvement District’s service territory following two confirmed trash violations.

Commissioner Hill, who represents the District where a majority of the county’s STRs are, said “I think we have a great opportunity this next year to have a full two years of the program, to then reevaluate and see where we are at. These changes are really necessary, and they provide some great next steps over the next year to make this code a better code for those who own STRs and our community.”

Commissioner Jung expressed of the STR ordinance amendment, stating, “This was a public safety issue, and especially when we found out that all of the Californians around the lake closed their short term rentals, we had no ability to close short term rentals because, legally, they did not exist in Washoe County; we had never created the code. I want to thank this commission and Commissioner Hill for preserving the safety, wellness, and protection for the people who are living, visiting or recreating up there.”

  1. Board contemplates the proposed repeal of existing Washoe County Code Chapter 95 governing parks and recreation and potential enactment of new ordinance – The Board heard today the introduction and first reading of the recommendation by the Washoe County Parks and Open Spaces division of the Community Services Department, governing parks and recreation, to recommend repealing the entire existing Chapter 95, and to enact a new ordinance that revises and replaces existing provisions. The proposed revised ordinance addresses powers and duties of the director, enforcement of the chapter, use of vehicles and non-motorized vehicles, domestic animals, and visitor conduct. The public hearing and second reading of the ordinance will be placed onto the agenda for the Board of County Commissioners meeting to take place May 24, 2022.

Commissioner Lucey noted, “There is a definite need for our rangers to have the ability to enforce the rules set forth by this board. As we continue to grow and as we see the evolution of sports equipment, we want you to be safe and aware of the community.” Lucey reiterated, “This in no way means we are saying you can’t take your ATV off to BLM and open space, we just want the public to be more cognizant about some of those uses on those trails.”

  1. Board approves District 3 Special Funds for Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space: Commissioner Jung recommended to allocate Special District Funds to support the Washoe County Community Services Department’s Regional Parks and Open Space department to fund two programs in recognition of Rancho San Rafael’s 40-year anniversary. The board approved today a $5,000 donation to the department to fund the professional production of a 20-minute mini-documentary video highlighting Rancho San Rafael’s history, and an additional $5,000 for the purpose of commissioning a local artist to create a pollinator themed sculpture for “The Hive” area in the center of the garden at Rancho San Rafael Park.
  2. Washoe County Senior Services Advisory Board Appointments: The Board of County Commissioners approved the recommended appointments to the Washoe County Senior Services Advisory Board of Thuy Tran for the remainder of the term ending March 31, 2023; appointed Mavis Kay Bonzer for remainder of the term ending October 31, 2024; appointed Konandaraman Venkataraman for the remainder of the term ending February 28, 2023; and appointed Jane Baudelair for the remainder of the term ending October 31, 2024.