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Neighbors win appeal against proposed Riviera Condominiums 


The Reno City  Council Wednesday voted in a 4-3 split to uphold the appeal of a Reno resident on behalf of her Riviera neighborhood who filed against the proposed Riviera Planned Community, arguing that the condominiums do not conform to the Reno City Master Plan. 

Riviera Resident Dalen O’Bryan appealed the Riviera Planned Community on behalf of the existing neighborhood near Riviera and Idlewild. 

Neighbors cited numerous issues with the Riviera project in the appeal, most of which dealt with the height of the proposed condominiums. Those issues included a lack of privacy for current residences, the shading of streets – which may cause winter ice build up and cause a safety issue – and the shading of gardens and solar panels of neighbors. 

Issues with a proposed “half underground” parking garage when dealing with a property immediately adjacent to the river were also mentioned, along with the fact that the proposed condo did not “fit” with the current neighborhood. 

The condo’s purpose of providing luxury living to single or partnered but childless individuals does not fit with the neighborhood’s current ambitions, O’Bryan said, as it is the “most highly coveted neighborhood in Reno” for parents and prospective parents due to its proximity to schools, the Riverwalk and parks. 

O’Bryan also voiced doubts the project would be able to provide the trees it had promised due to contradictory designs. 

According to O’Bryan, the condo project goes against the city’s master plan  which states that developments must be “consistent with the traditional orientation of structures found within the surrounding blocks.”

Unprofessional behavior was also cited as an issue for neighbors while discussing their concerns with the developers. 

According to O’Bryan, the architect of the project “threatened” the neighbors by saying that, if the condo project is denied, the landowner will build an apartment complex of “any kind to his liking”, that he “wouldn’t have to run it past any council at all,” and the neighborhood would have to deal with the “ever-changing tenants.”

“Which honestly sounds a bit classist if you ask me, especially since we’ve had no issue with the tenants of the two apartment complexes on the corners of Idlewild and Riviera,” O’Bryan said. “This project is a gross form of gentrification in an area that would proudly accept ADUs and conversions of existing and historical homes.” 

Mike Vicks with Monte Vista Consulting responded on behalf of the applicant, arguing that the property, which currently has a single primary residence on it, is zoned and has been zoned multifamily since the 1940s, and that the property by right can be developed into apartments. 

For this property, the multifamily zoning traditionally means that four individual residences can be built in the space; however, a density bonus was applied, allowing for five smaller units to be built on the property to encourage more density. 

The applicant argued that by subdividing it into condominiums, the project will “promote a higher quality of construction” as well as individual ownership. 

Vicks also said that they believe the project is consistent with the master plan, the project has an extra five feet of setback and that the design has been modified to be more compatible with the area. 

Other multifamily developments in the direct vicinity include two apartment complexes and a six-unit complex. 

Vicks presented a shade study which indicates solar panels would not be affected, and that all shading will remain on the condominium property. 

However, during public comment, it was pointed out by neighbors that the shade study was modeled during June, and during any other time of the year, when the sun moves further south, the shade will cover other residences and interfere with solar panels. 

During public comment, many neighbors spoke out against the project, and argued that the plan cannot meet requirements and is not consistent with the city’s master plan. Neighbors also said that the developers have made no attempt to connect with neighbors, and alleged that developers have not done a site visit. 

Councilmember Naomi Duerr agreed with neighbors, and Councilmember Jenny Brekhus determined that the project was not in compliance with existing code by proposing a build of three stories, when the allotted maximum could only be up to two and a half stories. 

Brekhus also said the building height exceeds 35 feet, and with it, a shading ordinance is triggered. 

Councilmembers Brekhus, Duerr, Meghan Ebert and Mayor Schieve voted in favor of the appeal, which denies the permit to the developers, while Councilmembers Devon Reece, Kathleen Taylor and Miguel Martinez voted against the appeal. 

ADA bathrooms to be installed at city parks

Council approved just over $1 million in grant funding to provide four new restrooms accessible by Americans with Disabilities Act standards in three city parks. 

The funds were earmarked for ADA park restroom facility upgrades by Nevada Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, as well as Congressman Mark Amodei. 

Councilmember Naomi Duerr said she was impressed with the relatively low cost of the replacements, at approximately $250,000 per restroom structure, and said she often receives complaints about park users unable to use restrooms during the colder months. 

“Even though that’s a lot of money, it’s relatively less than what I keep hearing in park construction,” Duerr said. “I’m impressed with the number – it’s lower than I expected, and I’m glad the structure will be removed and [the restrooms] will be year-round.”

The project sites, two at Idlewild Park, one at Huffaker Park, and one and Manzanita Park, were chosen because the bathrooms currently located at those subject sites are seasonal, made of metal and closed in the winter due to freezing temperatures. 

“This will allow us to provide year-round ADA access at some of our highest use park sites,” Management Analyst Karina Mercier said. 

The existing restroom buildings will be removed and replaced with single-user restrooms. 

Existing Manzanita Park restroom. City of Reno image.
Existing Manzanita Park restroom. City of Reno image.

Fire Department discussion devolves into arguments 

During discussions regarding the proposed new Reno Fire Department central station, councilmember statements devolved into arguments about alleged retaliations and “conspiracy theories.” 

The new Reno Fire Department station will be located at 455 E. Second Street, after the Reno Police Department moves to its new public safety center at 911 Kuenzli St. in July 2024. 

The proposed facility will be three to four stories, 65,000 sqft, with six apparatus bays, two ambulance pays and around 80 parking spaces, to be completed in 2027. 

The first phase of the project includes preliminary designs of the facility as well as demolition of the existing police station, which will take six to eight months once RPD relocates.  

Duerr said one thing she did not see in the project scope was the necessary historical analysis due to the fact that the building is 70-years-old, and is a City of Reno property. 

“There needs to be a historical analysis so that it is captured, very much like what we did with the Virginia Street Bridge,” Duerr said. “Whether it’s pictures or whatever it takes to understand this building, and then maybe make a presentation for the atrium of the new Public Safety Center.” 

Senior Civil Engineer Justin George said that they would be going through all the proper steps to make sure all appropriate steps are taken. 

Brekhus said she was “very concerned” about the project and how it would be paid for. 

Councilmember Reese said he wanted the public to understand that, “We’re fine, the sky is not falling, there’s no conspiracy theory,” in relation to the city’s budget. 

Brekhus went on to say that taking on debt for this project is going to be “very risky,” and will not be good fiscal management. 

“Think of this very seriously, because none of you – three of you at this table have never sat through a budget period before, and none of you have sat with a resolution for layoffs in front of you. But I have.” 

Brekhus also said that the demolitions and “leveling” in Downtown Reno are adding up to a “disinvested downtown” and compared the downtown to Detroit and Beirut, adding that she had never been to either, but that “we have a lot of level ground.” 

“It just signals to anyone who comes to town that there’s no investment,” Brekhus said. 

Brekhus said that the demolition should be held off until all funding for the new building has been secured. 

Brekhus then went on to say that the City Manager had specifically barred her from meeting with the finance director in what she views as a retaliatory measure. 

“He has blocked me from having input and it’s retaliatory as I’ve mentioned before due to my job evaluation,” Brekhus said. 

Reese stopped her, and asked her to stick to the topic at hand. 

“I don’t believe anyone is retaliating against you,” Reese said. 

“That’s your opinion,” Brekhus said. 

“I do have an opinion and my opinion is that you should not disparage people unnecessarily in this context,” Reese said. “Please stick to the agenda item.”

Brekhus then accused Reese of “abusing his power” as chair, and Reese said Brekhus needed to stick to the agenda to avoid an open meeting law violation. 

“I’m not worried about that,” Brekhus said. 

Council approved a consultancy agreement with Dowl, LLC for the schematic design and demolition administration in an amount not to exceed $419,029. 

Dowl was chosen from the city’s two-year pre-qualified list of consultants. 

Council also approved a consultancy agreement with TSK Architects for the architectural schematic design in an amount not to exceed $404,300. TSK was also chosen from the city’s two-year pre-qualified list of consultants. 

The motion was approved with Brekhus voting against. 

$28 million in ARPA funding allocated to current, new projects 

As a part of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, the City of Reno received $51.5 million from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funding. 

Since the city accepted that funding, $23.4 million has been dispersed across seven categories, with $28 million left to be allocated

All funds must be allocated by Dec. 31, 2024 and spent by Dec. 31, 2026. 

$1.47 million was approved to balance previously approved projects including investing in remote work technology for city employees, two projects at Idlewild Park, a project at Dorothy McAlinden/Mayor’s Park, and an HVAC project at the California Building. 

The remaining $26.6 was approved to the new project, which were spread across five of the seven categories: Access to Healthcare, Affordable Housing, Community Programs, Pandemic Response, and Parks and Recreation, with the latter receiving the most funding at $10.2 million. 

The second highest distribution category is Pandemic Response at $9 million. 

Councilmembers Brekhus and Ebert voted against the distribution, citing issues with the fact that no funding was allocated to Northern Nevada Hopes,  
The full list of projects can be viewed in this presentation.

Kelsey Penrose
Kelsey Penrose
Kelsey Penrose is a proud Native Nevadan whose work in journalism and publishing can be found throughout the Sierra region. She received degrees in English Literature and Anthropology from Arizona State University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing with the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe. She is an avid supporter of high desert agriculture and rescue dogs.




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