Top headlines from the Board of County Commissioners meeting  

by | Jul 11, 2023

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

1. Board votes to not move forward with cannabis consumption lounge code amendments: Assistant County Manager Dave Solaro presented a two-part question to the Board of County Commissioners: Do they want to direct staff to initiate code amendments to allow cannabis consumption lounges within unincorporated Washoe County, and if so, in what form the lounges might take. The Board voted 3-2 to not direct staff to move forward with creating an ordinance amending County Code to allow for consumption lounges in unincorporated Washoe County. Because they did not move past this first question, the second part of the question was not addressed by the Board.  

“I think the citizens of my area – District 2 – have not changed their views. I’m not opposed to this kind of thing, to adults acting responsibly, but I’m going to do what I like to do and stand with the constituents who will be affected by this,” Commissioner Mike Clark said. “They’ll be living there a lot longer than any of us will be up here serving on the dais.” 

Currently consumption of cannabis can only occur in private homes or on private property. The 2021 Nevada Legislature authorized cannabis consumption lounges, and the Cannabis Compliance Board awarded 40 state licenses to dispensaries in Nevada, only one of which is in unincorporated Washoe County. However, as the county does not have codes for permitting the lounges, they are currently still not allowed in Washoe County.

2. Board acknowledges workforce housing plan for Incline Village/Crystal Bay: The 2023 Washoe Tahoe Housing Partnership’s (WTHP) Housing Roadmap is intended to address workforce housing challenges in Incline Village and Crystal Bay.

The WTHP was formed in 2020 by a coalition of residents, non-profits, business owners, government representatives, educators, and other local leaders, and in 2021 the WTHP released a housing-needs study for the Incline Village / Crystal Bay area. A key finding was that an estimated 785 below-market housing units and 420 market rate units will be needed over the next five years to address housing shortages for local residents and employees in the Incline Village / Crystal Bay area.  

The 2023 WTHP housing roadmap, presented today by Tahoe Prosperity Center CEO Heidi Hill Drum, outlines a partnership framework and range of priority goals and actions to address these needs. The roadmap’s creation was a collaborative process funded by the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation, Reno Housing Authority, Offerdahl Foundation, and Washoe County. The Tahoe Prosperity Center served as project manager for development of the roadmap. 

In January 2023, the Board directed that the County’s FY 24 strategic plan include initiatives focused on increasing the availability of affordable housing in unincorporated Washoe County. This roadmap is a tool that will support those efforts in the Lake Tahoe region. 

The Board was asked to acknowledge the roadmap, and staff will return with a future agenda item seeking to assess and prioritize the roadmap’s recommendations as part of a broader discussion on the strategic plan initiative and the County’s overall efforts related to affordable housing. 

“I appreciate your optimism,” Commissioner Mariluz Garcia said, thanking Drum for the presentation. “I’m a firm believer that we should never turn our backs on exploring possibility and working with community partners to be innovative and think outside the box. This roadmap won’t solve the housing crisis that we’re facing, but the goals and priorities will create a path forward. And that’s our job to always be moving forward and not just quit and get stuck because it’s bad or tough or complicated. We appreciate reports like this, and I look forward to seeing it at an upcoming Board meeting.”

3. Board conducts first reading of ordinance related to permits and fees for dogs and cats: Animal Services Director Shyanne Schull presented amendments to update the County’s requirements and processes related to applications for a variance permit to keep more than three adult dogs or seven cats in the animal-congested areas of the county. It is anticipated that these amendments will reduce the number of households that would require a variance permit and streamline the department’s procedures for processing variance permit applications.

The ordinance also amends a section related to dangerous and vicious dog registration by changing the word “dangerous” to “vicious” in one sentence of the ordinance that was missed due to a clerical error in a previous update.  

4. Board approves ARPA funding for 16 projects: Washoe County Community Reinvestment Manager Gabrielle Enfield presented 16 projects to receive allocations from the county’s ARPA funds. Washoe County received approximately $91.5 million and has allocated 70 percent of those funds so far. Out of 74 projects previously approved, 39 were internal to Washoe County government departments, 32 were external, and three were administrative.

These grants represent investment in parks and recreation, innovative service delivery of public services, mental health, and arts and culture. Today’s approval included grants for: 

  • South Valleys Regional Park Expansion $2,000,000  
  • Future of Work Initiative to enhance technology, customer service, and workplace safety $2,000,000  
  • Kids Kottage Contract Services for emergency foster care bed placements $1,400,000  
  • Our Home (WellCare) Contract Services for Living Supports and Services Pilot Program extension for individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities $661,500  
  • Sun Valley Bike Park development and construction $500,000   
  • Medical Examiner Radiology Scanner $500,000  
  • Arts and Culture Project to support the development of regional art projects and programming $300,000  
  • COVID-Response Green Recovery Plan Implementation to support enhanced environmental and greenhouse gas reduction initiatives for Washoe County facilities and community initiatives $250,000  
  • Behavioral Health Crisis Response Plan implementation and Behavioral Health Summit hosting costs in support of improving regional behavioral health response times and services $125,000  
  • Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan $100,000  
  • Alternative Sentencing Pilot Program for Support in Treatment, Accountability and Recovery (STAR) Participants to provide neuromodulation treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health concerns that potentially contribute to relapse in substance use disorder $100,000  
  • Innovative Senior Projects $100,000  
  • Health District Lobby Demolition $30,000  
  • District Court Panic Button System Replacement $28,935  
  • Alternative Sentencing In-Car Mobile Wi-Fi Units $20,000  
  • Regional Mental Health Meeting Facilitation Costs $4,200 

“I like how you described how hard you worked to really narrow down the needs of the different departments and make sure that they met the qualifications for this federal funding,” Chair Alexis Hill said. “We ensure that we’re really being specific with our asks and we’re being accountable as well and ensuring we can show the taxpayers how we spent these monies.”

5. Volunteers appointed to boards and commissions: The Board approved the appointments of six volunteers to boards that guide and advise various county departments.

6. Chair Hill allocates Special District Funds for various nonprofit and government entities: The Board voted to approve allocations from the District 1 Funds, proposed by Chair Alexis Hill. These include:

  • $25,000 to Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Management Association to support their efforts to integrate a North Lake Tahoe Airport Shuttle into the community 
  • $10,000 to Edward C. Reed High School for its upcoming turf replacement project 
  • $5,500 to Truckee Meadows Tomorrow to support its annual Community Progress Report, and to support its Poverty, Homelessness and Housing Dashboard 
  • $5,000 to Sky Tavern to support their upcoming 2024 season of the Junior Ski Program 
  • $5,000 to the Tahoe Fund to support Phase Two of its parking enforcement study 
  • $1,800 to Jewish Nevada for its upcoming Jewish Cultural Festival, Milk & Honey 
  • $1,000 to the Albee Aryel Foundation to provide disadvantaged students with access to higher education 
  • $1,000 to Latino Arte and Culture to retroactively support its bilingual play LGBTQIA+ Latinx performance at Reno Little Theater 
  • $1,000 to Nevada Indoor Tennis and Pickleball to promote strong year-round programs and physical activity for youth and adult players 
  • $5,000 to the Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism to fund the purchase of supplies for their summer cleanup initiative