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Council Approves New Downtown Business District

By Bob Conrad
Downtown Reno and views of the Truckee River. Image: Ty O'Neil.
Downtown Reno and views of the Truckee River. Image: Ty O'Neil.

Downtown Reno and views of the Truckee River. Image: Ty O’Neil.

Reno’s debated and beleaguered downtown has a new business improvement district (BID).

The expanded geographic area encompasses more property owners who will pay assessed fees in order to get more services aimed to improve the downtown core.

The Reno City Council today approved  the new district. Mayor Hillary Schieve called it an historic moment.

“I keep saying you won’t recognize downtown in three years,” she said. “We have to do something. Today, it is finally happening.”

Most spoke in favor of the BID during public comment, including casino workers and owners. Homelessness was often noted in today’s discussion as a chief concern downtown.

Reno Police Chief Jason Soto said that the BID will free up law enforcement resources while allowing for more services to address homelessness.

“It does free up resources,” he said. “This is a community-wide issue in terms of resources for people who need resources. This is a step in the right direction in terms of making our community safer.”

Concern was expressed about how the money coming into the BID was going to be spent.

david bobzien

Councilman David Bobzien

“This is a complicated animal, so we have to go that extra mile to ensure our residents are getting their money’s worth at the end of the day,” Councilman David Bobzien forewarned.

Some protested the new district, citing increased fees. City staff said, however, that many property owners, including downtown residents, will see a decrease from the current special assessment district fees.

“We have been promised we will live in the land of puppy dogs, rainbows, and unicorns where everything will be free, and nobody will have to pay for anything,” said downtown resident Norm Robins. “I’ve heard a lot of stories like this in my 81 years. They rarely pan out as promised.”

Nonprofits and churches may be on the hook for more cash. Living Stones was in favor of the BID, but the International Community of Christ wrote a letter in support of the BID but against the assessment fee.

City staff indicated that churches may not be taxed, but they could be assessed. Entities with hardships could apply for relief.

The city is contributing $250,000 to the BID but expects that those dollars will result in a $3 million return on investment.

Council unanimously passed measures supporting the BID.



J Frakes March 4, 2018 - 10:27 am

Once again, the Reno City Council has voted to take more from the residents of Reno, without a gaurantee of anything solid. Raising fees on people and businesses already suffering from the Council’s last round of votes is appalling.
And of course, the illustrious Mayor of Reno is pleased by this decision, because she won’t be affected by the raise in assessment fees, and she is already ecstatic over the RSCVA’s decision to hand over the control of it’s facilities to an outside agency.
The homeless population in Reno is about to increase, due to the poor decisions of Reno’s elite, who just voted to screw over more poor people here. Reno is doomed.

Elaine Hoem February 28, 2018 - 7:41 pm

We need more housing. These projects sound ok and the problem is where the people currently living there are going to go. It seems to me that development has to go hand in hand with housing for those marginalized in our city.

Tom Lane March 1, 2018 - 2:06 pm

Absolutely. I’m in Rio Rancho, New Mexico for a few days (across the Rio Grande river from Albuquerque) and there’s plenty of housing and it’s cheap (starting at $615 a month). As a result there’s no homelessness in Rio Rancho. Albuquerque has a homeless issue because it’s larger, but it’s not that expensive to rent there either. Dennis Treadaway (FPI Management) does not dominate the two cities like he does in Reno and Sacramento. It’s time for rent controls in Reno to keep Dennis Treadaway from raising his rents any further.

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