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More Midtown Activity & RTC RAPID to UNR

REreno reports that there is a Planning Commission meeting this Wednesday, March 6 at 6pm where one of the subjects to be discussed will be changes to the Midtown neighborhood plan.  This will be an important one in terms of what happens in the more residential area between Virginia and Plumas/Forest north of Mt Rose St. Virginia Street should focus on trying to get bigger developments that make the area look and feel and function more like an urban main street and less a collection of car dealers, motels, and strip malls. It’s a bit worrying how much the residents want to pull back from the TOD corridor plan. The area in question is a mixture of all kinds of different uses, has had apartments and multitenant houses for quite some time.  A drive down Plumas Street is a drive down a street littered with terribly quaint apartment buildings.

The very same Planning Commission meeting will also feature a presentation of the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan draft which is being shopped through the public input process. This presentation was given in the 2-27 City Council Meeting.

industrial-employees-per-acreI’m always looking at the transit component of the Regional Transportation Plan. The transit agency is looking at a “Financially Constrained Plan” where they are trying to focus on things the public has prioritized. A demonstration project will be implemented in 2013 with RTC RAPID service to UNR. The financial constraints are based on the revenue source for transit operations, which is purely sales tax based. The community wants RAPID service between Reno and Sparks and from UNR all the way down Virginia Street to the Mt Rose Highway, but that’s not something the RTC can afford given the funding constraints it faces for transit service. The extension of the RAPID line up to UNR makes a lot of sense due to the short distance and the thousands of additional riders that would be able to take advantage of the service.

One other transit-related demo project happening this year that’s worth a mention: Summer weekend service to Tahoe. Caught this one last month on the public open house agenda. It’s an interesting idea. You shouldn’t have to have a car to get to Tahoe, or drive a  car to Tahoe, especially knowing you’ll have to park. For those able to put aside paranoia of being stranded at Lake Tahoe carless, the bus makes perfect sense as a way to get up there, and it’s potentially good for Tahoe’s environment as well.

Peruse the draft 2035 RTP here.

RTC thinking of tinkering with the bus service

From the RTC’s website:

RTC RIDE Proposed Summer 2013 Service Change and Fare Concepts Open House

Thursday, February 21, 2013
7:00 am – 10:00am
3:00pm – 5:30pm

Proposed Service Change Concepts:
• Southern Route Realignment (Route 6, 9, 12, 56 & 57)
• Possible Extensions to Route 5 & 15
• Route 2 and New Pyramid Service
• North Valley Service Modification
• Lake Tahoe Weekend Summer Service

Proposed Fare Concepts:
• Overall Pricing

Reno Council Race–Issues to watch

reno-city-hallThere’s a primary election on June 12, and if you live in Reno and you vote, there will be a lot of choices on there, depending on what part of town you live in.  Wards 1, 3, and 5 all have a gaggle of candidates running, plus there is an at-large seat.  The City Council is a nonpartisan body, so the top two vote-getters for each seat will advance to the general election, where under current rules, each candidate will have to get a majority of citywide votes to win (which doesn’t make sense, and could change in time for the next election)

There are a lot of candidates running in this race – 27 in total.  Some of the candidates are very serious, with professional websites, big signs all over town, name recognition and all that.  Some of the candidates have put out only their resume.  Some just have their name on the list.  A few have put up their own websites with that 1997 look.  But there is one thing that matters in this race, as much as personality or name recognition or funding, and that is the issues.

The big thing about issues in a race like this is making sure that the issues the candidates are focused on are issues that they can do something about in the office they’re seeking.  A good example is education.  Since the school district is at the county level, and the university is at the state level, and the city isn’t exactly rolling in the dough these days, there’s not much the city council can do to improve the quality of education in the area.

On the other hand, the city isn’t exactly rolling in the dough these days.  What does the candidate plan to do about that?  Where are they on basic things like sidewalks, parks, and neighborhood identity?  The relationship between Reno and Washoe County is notoriously toxic.  How do they feel about that?  The Truckee Meadows has three police departments, multiple fire departments and districts.  How do they feel about consolidation?

Patrick Smith sent questions to all the candidates and posted their answers on his site.  Brian Duggan has put together a handy-dandy list of the candidates’ websites.  We’ll keep watching this race, and report on what we find.

Reno Council tells staff “Move Midtown District process forward”

In a unanimous vote today, the Reno City Council directed City staff to move forward with the process for creating a Midtown district.  A staff report identified a timeline for putting a master plan amendment before the Council by October of this year, ahead of the November elections when a majority of the current Council will change.

The motion to proceed included three key alterations to the staff report, which identified the Midtown plan area as bounded by Regency Way on the South, Liberty Street on the north, Humboldt Ave on the west and Holcomb Ave on the east.

The first was a question from Councilwoman Zadra about the western boundaries.  She wanted to know why the district would extend so far to the west when the main topics of discussion at the recent town hall had to do with the business district centered around South Virginia Street.  Staff responded that the point of including the whole area in the district is actually to recognize that it has two halves:  the business district and the residential district, and that the residential district may be impacted by the business district.  Therefore they’re planning to take that into account up front, to give the residential neighborhoods some benefits from this planning process.

The motion was amended to direct the staff to clearly state that there are two project areas:  Midtown business district, and Midtown residential district.

The second point was around being able to get a lot of the easier stuff done quicker than by October: increasing parking capacity by turning obsolete driveway cuts (currently red zones) into parking spots, adding trash cans, stepping up code enforcement.

The motion was amended to work on the business district first.

The third point had to do with the business mix.  Councilwoman Sferazza brought up the issue of adding tattoo parlors back on to the list of businesses for which no licenses would be issued, and Councilman Gustin redirected the conversation to a model of talking about “the mix of eclectic businesses” that this neighborhood needs, rather than singling out specific categories of businesses that won’t be allowed.

The motion was amended directing staff to consider the business mix.

Midtown Town Hall shows Reno people are really into Midtown

I had the privilege of attending the Midtown “Town Hall” meeting I blogged about earlier.  It attracted quite a crowd – it was standing room only in the council chambers.  I even got a few words in – in the interest of fixing the sidewalks, and creating shared parking lots.

Out in full force was the Midtown business community – the owners of Süp, Craft, Junkee, Hub Coffee, the Carter Brothers, many of the entrepreneurs who are opening up businesses in the new 701 S. Virginia project (former Del Mar Station), and lots more – too many to list.  The #1 concern on the part of the business owners was parking.  Parking, parking, parking.  Not unexpected, really.  Reno is a largely suburban city.  People are used to being able to roll up in their car, park right next to the business they’re going to visit, and stroll right in.  Suggestions from the businesses included painting over some of the red zones that are there to protect driveways that no longer exist, and creating some nose-in parking on those streets that could handle it – effectively doubling the parking capacity of streets which currently have parallel parking.

There was also consensus, however, on the idea of improving the pedestrian infrastructure: lots of people talked about the sidewalks as an impediment to their enjoyment of the area.  Folks were open to the idea of shared parking lots that people could use and walk to their destinations.  You can’t really have the latter without the former.  Following logically from that was the idea that it can be scary down Virginia Street after dark – even for big guys who can defend themselves.  More lighting was called for to alleviate that problem.

Policing was another issue that came up.  Some folks wanted to get bike cops patrolling the neighborhood.  An officer from RPD was there at the meeting to answer questions, including one question that I had about doing some foot patrols in the area.  He heard the feedback and mentioned that he would look into some ways to get some bike cops funded and/or try to get some officers out of their patrol cars, plus assigning some resources in the short-term to do some drug crime enforcement. 

Drug crime was a huge issue for the people who attended the meeting.  One man used motion lights, yelling and screaming, and a baseball bat to keep the drug dealers and users out of his alley – and it worked.  The officer present mentioned that businesses and residents should watch the surroundings and call the police if they see a pattern of drug or other street crime.  “Take back your neighborhood,” was the theme – based on the positive experience the West of Wells group has had doing just that.

One of the Carters spoke about the projects that they do in the neighborhood.  What he said was essentially (paraphrasing here):  “We don’t like to talk about doing projects, we just like to do projects.”  He then put up his company’s mission statement on the overhead, which is all about making the streets exciting places again – places that inspire passion and desire.

A surprising thing:  Councilwoman Jessica Sferazza mentioned that she’s hoping to get a “Neighborhood Overlay District”  plan for the area done by October of this year.  “Ambitious,” she called it, “but I think we can get it done.”

Sferazza tried to get the participants to discuss what kinds of businesses – or “uses” might be a better word – should not be allowed in the area in the future.  New liquor stores, used car lots, and drive-throughs seemed to be the low-hanging fruit.  These discussions seemed to be based primarily on the experience in the Wells Ave neighborhood plan, which is something of a template for what they’re trying to accomplish on South Virginia Street. 

There was some talk of density – mostly with negative connotations.  Many people were opposed to density – but it never got clarified whether they were opposed to it in the single-family residential zones adjacent to Virginia Street specifically – or if they are opposed to it in general, to the extent that they would agitate against multifamily housing on Virginia Street.  It is understandable not to want your single-family neighborhood overrun by apartment buildings. 

It is another thing altogether to be opposed to apartment buildings going up along a commercial zone like Virginia Street.  If the apartments are unsubsidized, market rate, and non-age restricted, the potential is very good to increase desirable foot traffic and get more customers in the doors at businesses without the need for more parking.  This would increase the overall desirability of the neighborhood and actually drive up property values in the single-family zones.

All in all, Reno’s got a thing for Midtown.  What started as a project by a few business owners working together to create a district identity a few years ago has turned into a groundswell of support for this part of town that is growing in a down economy, not costing the taxpayers a dime doing it, and drawing in a lot of new people.  Midtown is the epicenter of Reno’s current neighborhood renaissance.  Building on a foundation laid by the Wells Ave neighborhood, if this current effort to channel some of the momentum into solving some of the structural issues succeeds, it will help Midtown to serve as a foundation for future neighborhood main street projects.

Why?  Because Reno has a bounty of great old neighborhood main streets that are all not currently realizing their full potential.  Each neighborhood that pushes the limits and improves itself, in the process helping refine our definition of the city government’s proper role, makes it that much easier for the neighborhoods that come next.  Maybe it’s just a pipe dream, but it sure is nice to imagine a future where all of Central Reno’s great old neighborhoods have been repaired and made livable and desirable again.  The city, healed.  Can you picture it?

Never Ender – The Little Shop That Could

In my continuation on MidTown places to check out, as I mentioned in the Classic Skate Shop article, the Never Ender boutique required a mention.  For one, the Classic Skate Shop exists neatly inside the store, and gives a stark contrast to what the Never Ender provides—-while the gals can peruse locally-made accessories and cute shirts, the guys they bring along can find a little respite checking out some skate gear.

Yet the Never Ender isn’t exclusively a “girlie shop,” either.  There’s a racks of just guys shirts from American Apparel and Threadless, shirts with some very unique prints and attitude.  I have a couple in my own collection, since I like weird and unique shirts anyway.  Trust me, you won’t find these shirt elsewhere in town.

Melanie Crane’s special shop started about six years ago when her daughter, Amber, put together the original Never Ender over on W. Liberty Street.  With a few changes and some presence online for a couple years, Melanie later opened at 26 Cheney Street a year ago on July 29, 2010.   Originally about half art gallery and half boutique, it isn’t too much different from what I gather, as they feature up-and-coming local artists,  art, and locally-made things, filled in with creations from California, Alaska, and even as far away as the U.K.—-just a little more focus on “wearables” and other gift-type items.  The store is open, bright, and chock-full of things to check out.

Melanie herself is from New Zealand originally, but has spent the last 25 years here in Reno.  She’s always wanted to have a contribution to the fashion world, as her family is also a part of it.  This store is her way of offering the latest and most interesting tidbits of fashion and art, as she undoubtedly has a good eye for.   With a background of foreign exchange, travel and transport, she’s been here and there, and picked up some skills and experience along the way to help her with the store.  From the first time I talked to Melanie, I’ve enjoyed her company.  Her sense of humor, helpfulness and natural connection with people make her as much a part of the inviting nature of the store as the store is itself.

I couldn’t really keep track of all of the unique things that she offers, from necklaces, bracelets, cards, clothing, decorations—-there’s a little bit of everything in there!  Not a local?  No problem.  You can go to the conveniently-placed link at the bottom of this article to their website, and check out their online store, too!

The Never Ender is another way to be able to spend a MidTown afternoon or weekend.  Since they’re right by The Hub, just down the street from the SÜP restaurant, Craft and other good MidTown specialties, be sure to stop by when you’re in the neighborhood.  If you don’t happen to be in this neighborhood, make it a point to come down!  There’s frequently art openings, Art Walks and all sorts of whimsical goings-on which usually include the Never Ender.

Never Ender is located:

26 Cheney Street (with Classic Skate Shop)
Website: Never Ender
Facebook: Never Ender Reno

Classic Skate Shop – The Biggest Little Skate Shop in Reno

It’s no secret, really, I love MidTown Reno.   What is MidTown, you ask?  Roughly between California Ave to Plumb Lane, between Forest Street and Wells Avenue.   There’s places to eat, drink, shop, and hang out.   It’s a real neighborhood, and has everything from trashy to quasi-upscale.  With a little help, even more great tenants moving in, some sidewalk re-doing and some lights, it’s Reno’s most bustling place for local, new business.   I can’t wait to see what happens to it in the next few years—-it is going to be a model of what Reno can be.

So what makes MidTown?  MidTown, like most places, is uniquely the sum of its parts.

One of its parts, is the Classic Skate Shop, tucked neatly in the back of the Never Ender boutique on Cheney Street.   Situated just doors down from The Hub Coffee Company, I had never gone into the Never Ender because I heard it was a “chick store.”  No sooner did I enter in there and discover I was wrong, I eventually explored further and found Eric Lantto sitting in his skate shop.  Introductions and appreciation from my end turned into a long conversation, and lo, what went from a little exploration on my part turned into a great appreciation for a laid-back, business-savvy and cool guy.

Open since December of last year, on the wall are tiled pictures of skaters old and new inside this tiny shop, and when I say tiny, I mean it.  Use of space is remarkable.   It has no shortage of products, mind you, if you’re an active skateboarder, everything is there that you need:  decks, trucks, bearings, wheels, stickers, shirts, hats and more.   No bigger than a bedroom, Eric’s approach to his skate shop is to not be a “fashion shop” for skater lifestyle (hence, he doesn’t want to deal with bulky inventory such as shoes), but to be a shop where a skateboarder can come and buy gear to…skateboard.

Eric started skating in roughly 1984, and growing up in Fallon, his hobby wasn’t always an easy thing to do.  With no skate parks, friends would build ramps, word would get out, and soon skaters from farther away (even Gardnerville and Lake Tahoe) would stop by.   As Eric grew, he realized he’d always be intrinsically involved with skateboarding, and eventually landed in the business side of it.   He’d do everything from punk-style fliers for local skate contests for sponsorships to reviewing videos and working for outfits like Fish Lips, Gold Wing/Entity Skateboards, DC Shoes, and currently, Street League, where he helps as a stage director when his skaters need to be involved with events covered by ESPN.

The uniqueness and vibe from Eric’s shop is evident, even for non-skaters like myself.   A lot of it has to do with Eric’s cool approach, but his knowledge and clean shop, filled with only the brands and lines he backs 100%, speak for themselves.   He’ll size up and match parts to beginners, building their first skateboard from scratch, or just sell the parts more experienced skaters need to keep them rolling forward.   As Eric says, “There are no rules to skateboarding.”

Eric loves what he does, and does what he loves involving skateboarding.  When I stopped in to talk to him the other day for this article, one thing he said hit me:  “This has never been a job for me.”   No wonder he loves it, and hence, is very good at it.  With a second store in his hometown of Fallon first open in May of 2009, he makes the commute quite frequently between here and Reno, and really enjoys having the smaller stores.  With a quickly growing clientele as word gets around, local skaters have a rock-solid local choice of where to go for the stuff they need.

I enjoyed talking with Eric, and am growing to be friends with a great guy, yet another reason why I can’t speak enough about MidTown Reno.  These shops, restaurants, coffee places and bars are owned by some of the best of Reno, what makes Reno….Reno.   Fun, quirky, different, and totally different than downtown proper or whatever strip mall might be in the area.   Next time, I’ll be talking about the Never Ender where Classic Skate Shop is located, because you really can’t have one without the other!

Classic Skate Shop is located…

In Reno:

26 Cheney St, inside Never Ender, south of Maytan Music, west of The Hub
775-348-9440    Facebook: Classic Skate Shop

In Fallon:

Their new location will be:  270 S. Main Street, inside Hazel’s Fashion

Suspected Sparks Rapist At Large

After allegedly raping a 17-year-old girl at a party in which he provided alcohol, 23-year-old homeless man Marquis Dewitt would be much better in the hands of the police, it seems.

“Dewitt is described as a light skinned black male adult standing 6’3″ and weighing 200lbs. He has black hair, brown eyes and a piercing through his right nostril and the left side of his lower lip. Dewitt also has a tattoo of a rose on his right arm.

He is homeless and is said to flop at various homes throughout the city of Sparks.

Dewitt does not have a car but gets around town riding a tan BMX style bicycle. He is said to frequent the following areas in Sparks: Burgess Park, the 7-11 on Baring Blvd, Reed High School, the 800 block of E. York, 1000 block of Baywood Drive and the 1100 block of La Quinta.”

Have you seen him? Call Sparks Police Department at 775-353-2231, Sparks Detectives at 775-353-2225, Detective Steve Fiore at 775-353-2241 ext. 504 or Secret Witness at 775-322-4900 — they’d be glad you did.

(portions of story courtesy KOLO)

All Reno Radio Takes a New Spin

David Hadel, the man behind All Reno Radio, at Earth Day 2011. Courtesy David Hadel

David Hadel, the man behind All Reno Radio, at Earth Day 2011. Courtesy David Hadel

I’m sure you’ve heard the old saw: “Give something to a busy man and he’ll finish it?”

A couple days ago, David sat down with Kyle and me over at The Hub and we talked about All Reno Radio and a few other things.  David is a very busy man, doing a lot of things, but now he’s primarily the man behind All Reno Radio.

Initially All Reno Radio was started by local raconteur and entrepreneur Clint Jolly with some help from David Hadel and a mutual friend of theirs named Chris. The idea was that they interviewed local bands and promoted local shows. If you’ve been following the site, there’s not been an update since March and the excellent post about Discology. Why? “Clint’s transferred everything to me since I was going a 1000 miles a minute.  Clint is out of it now.  Originally, I just started contacting bands and started doing it because I liked doing it.  I grew up in this scene and I like it.” So now, David has been running the site completely on his own- a one-man band doing the entire thing. He’s taken some time to get things back on track, and now he’s going to start doing All Reno Radio on a consistent basis.

The focus with All Reno Radio is like it was: to put a spotlight on bands in Reno and give them a chance to promote their shows.  David has done all kinds of guerrilla marketing for the site  from stickers to t-shirts and he’s getting all kinds of people interested in the site and his podcast.  “I’m trying to make everything incredibly local….It’s been something fun to do for me.”  And that’s just the least of his plans- he wants to open a record store, and he wants to record local artists, and even press vinyl.  He’s writing novels and screenplays, playing music in various bands, and doing All Reno Radio.  And, he wants people to go out and check out local bands live: “I try to drag out my friends to go to shows.  There’s a lot of great local bands and people need to go out and see them.”

Being a one man band has slowed him down, but not too much. Dave is in the process of updating and interviewing local bands, so look for him! If you want to know more about All Reno Radio, check out the website at: http://allrenoradio.com/ and his Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/allrenoradio “There’s so much great music that can be discovered here and I want to help it.  People just don’t know about it, but I want to let them know about it.”

The Worst Little Podcast In The World

“Radio-talk locally personified.”   Seriously, they’re all idiots.  The sad thing is, they’re good at what they do, and I personally love them.

Reverend Rory Dowd (yeah, he’s really a bona-fide man of the collar: dog, ring-around-the, etc.) has been around for years, from spreading his woeful vitriol via Java Jungle poetry nights to the (shudder) Zephyr Lounge, he now appears at Jub Jub’s Thirst Parlor doing the “Dirty Spelling Bee,”  and other cockamamie stuff.

This, though, is his latest and (by my account) greatest venture yet, The Worst Little Podcast In The World.  With friends, such as Rick from Dogwater Studios, broadcasting from deep Sparks, they take on Reno, weird conversation, offensive musings, music, news, and whatever the hell else they want.   Sometimes sober (not often, you can hear drinks of all sorts being popped open on set) and sometimes sobering, a lovely way to listen to the (anti-)intelligence of Reno et al.  They’re damn good at being bad.

If you like to just listen to awesome, funny and mindless chatter with local guests, featuring a Reno-style of crass, dirty humor mixed with a wonderful inclusion into our lovely town, look no further than a NSFW podcast from The Worst Little Podcast In The World.

http://www.worstlittlepodcast.com/ ; or you can find them off to the right on our “Local Specialties” list in case hyperlinks baffle you—at the very bottom (where they belong).

(image above stolen without permission from WLP, and we don’t apologize for it, in fact we may use it inappropriately)