The Reno City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve a $4.5 million settlement with dozens of plaintiffs affected by the 2017 flooding of Swan Lake in the North Valleys.
The City of Reno announced last month in an after-hours press release that it would settle the lawsuits, which allege negligence on the part of the city for allowing development in flood-prone areas.
In February, plaintiffs were awarded more than $750,000 in damages from the Second Judicial District Court. The city attorney’s office was also fined for failing to admit to facts in the case.
The $4.5 million will settle all claims in all cases.
When the City of Reno made its April announcement concerning the settlement, it also used the opportunity to plug Earth Day and environmental justice:
“This global settlement is a significant step forward for proper stewardship of our delicate ecosystem in the North Valleys and underscores the importance of our ongoing efforts regarding sustainability in the Biggest Little City. We’re committed to protecting all of our citizens and our environment, and it’s fitting that we arrived at this agreement on Earth Day. The fight for economic and environmental justice never ends and we will move forward together, as a community,” the statement read in part.
Prior to the vote to approve the settlement, council members heard public comment from Tammy Holt of the Lemmon Valley-Swan Lake Recovery Committee.
“I am saying that it’s about time that the City of Reno council finally approve this minimal payment of $4.5 million for all of the residents after the 2017 flood,” Holt said. “What I am upset about is the fact that it is the same amount of settlement that was originally given to the city back in 2019 in September.”
Holt said in her public comment that the price of building materials has skyrocketed, and the settlement should have included interest during the period from 2019 until now. She added that some people in the Swan Lake area have been out of their homes since 2017.
“And to be held off for this period of time—to not be able to get on with their lives—is absolutely disgusting, rude and anything else you can think of in the vocabulary,” Holt said. “Now it’s time for the City of Reno to get their act together and to actually represent the people, not special interests, not developers—especially in the North Valleys.”
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.