Carson City roads a lengthy topic at city officials’ retreat
The Board of Supervisors and Carson City department heads held their annual planning workshop Thursday to discuss issues facing the city and goals for the next few years.
Affordable housing, extended-stay motels, hemp cultivation, road maintenance, and other topics were on the agenda.
The lengthiest discussion concerned roads and a proposal to institute a policy that interior-only roads in new developments remain private and maintained by a homeowners association rather than public roads maintained by the city.
“Are we going after the right problem here?” said Mark Turner, a local developer, whose most recent project, Silver View Townhomes, was approved by the Planning Commission with private streets.
The discussion turned to ideas to beef up the city’s roads maintenance work, which relies on the gas tax and is underfunded like many municipalities across the country.
One idea is a transportation utility fee like a stormwater or sewer fee. A hypothetical example given was a $20 monthly fee, which would generate an additional $400,000 monthly for street work.
Other ideas included a matching fund in which the city would match funds raised by neighborhood homeowners for road repairs as well as redoing the gas indexing ballot question, which failed in 2016.
No action was taken during the meeting and all ideas talked about were for discussion only.
The city has $300,000 from the sale of property on Brown Street to spend on housing gaps.
Nicki Aaker, Carson City Health and Human Services director, said she does not recommend establishing a city housing authority but to continue working with Nevada Rural Housing Authority, which administers a housing voucher program for rural Nevada as well as develops housing projects.
Instead, she proposed two other ideas, one to partner with Spirit of Hope, a local nonprofit, to provide housing for low-income individuals being discharged from the hospital, or another to assist seniors under threat of losing their homes.
Tied to that are extended stay motels, which the city has been inspecting for the last several years to overhaul them.
“We’ve seen some pretty horrific conditions in these motel rooms,” said Lee Plemel, director, Community Development, which oversees code enforcement.
The motel room rentals are usually less costly than apartments, which are hard to find anyway.
Rehabilitating the properties has taken longer than expected. Inspections are time-consuming as are civil citations against the properties. Several motels have changed ownership, dragging out any actions against them.
So the city is considering changing the transient lodging tax to remove the exemption for stays over 28 days, which Dan Yu, assistant district attorney, said was possible.
“We think we’re on solid ground that if you want to remove that exemption you could do it,” said Yu.
Other ideas included requiring the motels to provide services such as cleaning and linens associated with lodging properties, or converting the properties to residential code, which would precipitate massive work or demolition.
Supervisors this month started the process to place a moratorium on hemp cultivation while the city drafts policy and municipal code to regulate the crop. At the same time, the city is involved in a lawsuit filed by Tahoe Hemp LLC, which wants to grow hemp on open space property known as Buzzy’s Ranch.
Lyndsey Boyer, senior natural resource specialist, gave a presentation on the crop.
One problem with hemp cultivation is the crop’s odor so the group discussed possible regulations including requiring the crop to be grown under roof and in restricted zoning.
“Odor is not the only issue we need to address,” said Supervisor Brad Bonkowski. “For zoning my preference is in general industrial, basically the same regulations we have for marijuana.”
In the afternoon, the workshop focused on a long list of goals for the next five years, many of which involved internal city operations such as employee training and succession planning.
Major capital improvement goals included construction of a new fire station with an emergency operations center as well as considering expanding the existing or building a new juvenile justice facility.
A complete list of those goals as well as the materials presented at the workshop are available online at https://www.carson.org/government/meeting-information/agendas/board-of-supervisors-agendas-with-supporting-materials/2020-agendas-with-supporting-materials/02-27-20-special-workshop.