Proposed Homeless Shelter Site Has Environmental Concerns

A proposed location for the new overflow homeless shelter is at 250 Sage Street. The property has a number of environmental concerns.
A proposed location for the new overflow homeless shelter is at 250 Sage Street. The property has a number of environmental concerns.

Previously identified sites for a permanent overflow homeless shelter are imperfect locations to house the new facility. That’s according to city staff who considered four possible parcels for the new shelter.

Staff are recommending that the city council select one of two courses of action: pick the site at 250 Sage Street that needs environmental clean-up, or find a new location.

The Sage Street location was previously used by the Southern Pacific Railroad, a towing company, a concrete construction firm, and an asphalt company.

A consultant’s memo to the city, after a visit to the site, found that it has an unused underground storage tank, a standpipe with unidentified sludge, an abandoned RV, drums containing waste oil, and storage tanks with waste oil and propane.

Staff said it,

“…recommends (Sage Street) as the only viable property based on previous direction from Council and discussions with associated stakeholders. Staff had previously recommended (this property) due to the feasibility of usage and to mitigate impacts to the river. Alternatively, staff recommends that Council give direction to identify new potential locations for a permanent overflow site.”

The Sage Street site also has a “fuel line running through (the) property which may disallow housing…” according to a city report.

Another property was removed from consideration because it is privately owned, and the owner is unwilling to sell. Another site is leased to the ReTRAC revenue bond and Waste Management may be interested in purchasing it.

The City Council is scheduled to hear more at its Wednesday meeting.

Sparks’ Response

Reno reached out to Washoe County and Sparks about other potential land for the new shelter. Sparks indicated that it does not have available parcels for the shelter, according to Assistant Community Services Director Armando Ornelas.

“While Sparks staff understand and support the need for a new overflow shelter, the City of Sparks owns virtually no property that isn’t presently used for, or anticipated to be needed for, city facilities,” he said. “As I noted … the one … ‘excess’ parcel the city owns … would not be suitable as it is burdened by an access easement for an adjoining privately owned parcel and is bordered on two sides by single-family residences.”

Previous Council Action

Courtesy of the City of Reno.

  • June 7, 2017 – Council directed staff to narrow the focus to these sites and to pursue a conversation with Washoe County and other partners on other possible sites. At this time a fourth location at the Terminus of East Commercial Row (APN 011-450-24) was removed from consideration as a possible location for the permanent overflow shelter.
  • June 15, 2016 – Council approved the Cooperative Agreement for Services related to the operation of the Community Assistance Center (CAC) and other homeless services among the City of Reno, Washoe County, and the City of Sparks. The Council also approved the Contract between the City of Reno and Volunteers of America, Greater Sacramento and Northern Nevada, for the operation of the Shelters at the CAC for July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2019.
  • Jan. 28, 2015 – Council approved the contract with Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada to operate a cold weather overflow shelter from Jan. 1, 2015 through March 31, 2015.
  • Sept. 10, 2008 – Council approved a Cooperative Agreement between the cities of Reno and Sparks and Washoe County for operations of the CAC-City of Reno lead agency.
  • Aug. 18, 2008 – Council accepted report regarding CAC operations and oversight.

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About Bob Conrad 823 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.