County Survey: Quality of Life Ranks High, Development and Affordable Housing Still Top Concerns

Washoe County Commission ChambersWashoe County recently released the results of its citizen survey. Unsurprisingly, Reno-area residents rank many factors high but growth and development are top concerns.

“Residents are very concerned about new development,” said county Budget Manager Mark Mathers. “Overall we thought the information is interesting (and) helpful…”

Washoe County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung.
Washoe County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung.

Commissioner Vaughn Hartung questioned parts of the survey results, saying that many residents complain about county services without realizing the services they’re complaining about should be directed to the cities of Reno or Sparks.

“I got a call from a guy the other day complaining about police services, and they were really complaining about Sparks Police services,” Hartung said.

Mathers said that county boundaries confuse the issue.

“I think that’s just an issue for any survey like this,” he said.

Hartung also said that newcomers to the area are frequently the top complainers.

“Some of the loudest to complain are the newest residents,” he said.

But Mathers countered that while about 30 percent of respondents were new residents, half were longer term residents of more than 20 years.

More than half of the respondents ranked quality of life as good, and 23 percent ranked it as excellent.

“In addition to rating the County as a place to live, respondents rated several aspects of community quality including Washoe County as a place to raise children and to retire, their neighborhood as a place to live, the overall image or reputation of Washoe County and its overall appearance,” according to the survey results.

But residents, less than a majority, do not want increased taxes or fees, such as a motor vehicle fee, for recreational and cultural facilities.

Washoe County Commissioner Kitty Jung.
Washoe County Commissioner Kitty Jung.

Commissioner Kitty Jung questioned who owned the responsibility to prepare the region for new development, citing the survey figure of 87 percent of respondents who are very concerned or somewhat concerned about the impact of new development on county services.

“If you build a bunch of strip malls, which frankly I think are completely out of style and I think (new residents) would agree, and nobody goes to them, we’re then stuck holding the bag vis-a-vis property tax (and) sales tax that we’re not realizing,” she said. “I would recommend regional planning, but I’m sure they don’t love us very much right now, so they don’t want to do anything, not that they’ve never done anything for us, to be frank.

“Maybe they should own it. What are they doing to look at the impacts of development…? I’m a little frustrated that we’ve never gone anywhere with this.”

The county is being sued by the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency (TMRPA) for a county bill that seeks greater representation on the TMRPRA board.

In all, close to 90 percent of respondents would recommend Washoe County as a good place to live, but they rank growth, road maintenance, and law-enforcement services as high and medium priorities.

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About Bob Conrad 802 Articles
Bob Conrad is proprietor and co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company (disclosure: client work includes projects funded by grants through UNR) and is an adjunct faculty member at Truckee Meadows Community College. He is a contributor to Reno Public Radio.