January 11, 2017

January 2017 Newsletter

Year in Review: SNS 2016 Accomplishments

team-photo2016 was a banner year for SNS – We staffed up, revamped our website, and even created our own board game. Highlighted below are a few of our accomplishments from the past year. For a full recap of accomplishments and activities, check out our 2016 SNS Accomplishments report [link].

Organizational Setup
Since assuming administrative responsibility for the Regional Plan, the RTC established the organizational structure for an SNS office of implementation. This included developing policies and procedures, defining roles and responsibilities, and hiring a capable staff to lead implementation efforts. The staff has been busy spearheading important community efforts and leading progress toward implementing the plan.

Community Engagement
SNS has continued to build on its awarding-winning public engagement efforts to engage new audiences and provide new opportunities for dialogue and partnership. Staff met individually with community leaders and officials, and presented to diverse audiences at conferences and community meetings. In total, SNS met with or presented to more than 40 organizations across Southern Nevada. Additionally, SNS enhanced its strategic communication efforts to better engage with the public and publicize local implementation progress by redesigning its website, launching a quarterly newsletter, and enhancing its social media presence. SNS staff also developed a placemaking board game in which participants were tasked with creating a complete community using the ideals and principles outlined in the SNS regional plan.

Leading and Facilitating
Over the course of the last year, SNS staff has convened key stakeholders and led several critical community-wide discussions on creating transit-oriented development (TOD) along public transit corridors, and developing a regional grants competiveness strategy to ensure the region is better equipped to secure federal funding. SNS also worked to facilitate collaboration across the region, helping connect partners across many different initiatives. A prime example of this is the nonprofit CEO bus tour SNS hosted in November with leaders from approximately 20 nonprofit organizations in Southern Nevada. The event strengthened dialogue between the nonprofit community and the RTC.

Supporting and Informing
SNS staff worked with regional partners to assist with local plans and initiatives that aligned with the SNS Regional Plan. SNS was engaged with the City of North Las Vegas in an initiative to revitalize the city’s urban core through innovative development of mixed-income housing, and supported the City of Henderson on its brownfields grant to examine distressed properties along the Boulder Highway Corridor. During 2015 and 2016, SNS supported the cities of Las Vegas and Henderson in their STAR Communities application for sustainability certifications. Both cities received four-STAR designations.

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What’s coming up in 2017?

2017-snsAfter dramatic progress and foundation building in 2016, the Southern Nevada Strong team is planning for 2017 to be even more energetic and impactful. We are focusing our team’s efforts on a few key priorities, while also planning for supportive activities for our partners and stakeholders.

During the next year, join us as we:

  • Advance transit-oriented development (TOD) by educating community leaders about TOD best practices from across the county, as the RTC anticipates capital investment in high-capacity transit. Staff will facilitate events to learn from mentor cities and host workshops to further the implementation of local TOD policy.
  • Increase coordination among community partners to access new funding from public and private sources. Staff will continue to convene key partners to ensure the region is ready to take advantage of open funding opportunities.
  • Encourage participation in the public process by presenting the Southern Nevada Strong vision across the community in an effort to better engage residents and incorporate their input in planning processes.
  • Continue tracking progress and sharing data to measure implementation progress. SNS staff will be updating performance metrics and is committed to serving as a resource for data and research for the community.

Learn more about how to get involved in any of these activities by contacting southernnevadastrong@rtcsnv.com.

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What is transit-oriented development?

tod A phrase you’ll hear often from the Southern Nevada Strong team and many of our regional partners in 2017 is “transit-oriented development (TOD).” We’ve spent much of the past year laying the foundation for an ongoing community-wide discussion on TOD, and in 2017, we will continue to lead the discussion and facilitate the effort with our partners.

TOD is a type of community development that incorporates a mix of residential and commercial buildings with walkable neighborhoods near public transit. When done well, TODs offer residents easy access to many types of activities, like employment, housing, restaurants, and shops. Because TODs create compact communities and increase walkability, they can also increase community connectedness.

Most of the local momentum pertaining to TOD stems from the potential deployment of light rail along Maryland Parkway, an SNS Opportunity Site. TOD also supports the SNS Regional Plan’s vision for increasing density and walkability throughout Southern Nevada.

In the coming year, the SNS team will be working with local developers, planners, business owners, and community members to identify areas throughout the valley where TOD can be implemented and enhance the quality of life for Southern Nevadans.

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Las Vegas considers zoning overhaul to further boost downtown development

Vision-2045The City of Las Vegas took another step toward creating a more vibrant and walkable downtown last month when officials gathered to discuss a potential zoning overhaul for the city’s urban core. At a joint Las Vegas City Council and Planning Commission meeting held on Dec. 6, officials received a presentation on urban-form zoning and its ability to create proper urban form and spur mixed-use development.

Urban-form zoning, also referred to as form-based code, is land development regulation that focuses on the physical forms of buildings and the relationships between building facades and the public realm (which includes sidewalks, bike paths, and open spaces).

When implemented correctly, urban-form zoning provides for greater design and development flexibility and also encourages walkable, mixed-use development. It can also make the development and permitting processes more efficient and predictable for developers. In recent years, urban-form zoning has been adopted in cities across the county, including Denver, Nashville, Los Angeles, Miami, and Austin.

Tom Perrigo, the City of Las Vegas’s planning director, believes that adopting urban-form zoning  is the next step in reaching the vision laid out in the city’s revamped downtown master plan, which calls for 10 dense, interconnected, mixed-use hubs, each with distinct identities.

Having received approval from the council and commission to move forward with preparing an urban-form zoning code, the city’s planning department will be convening work groups with downtown stakeholders throughout 2017.

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City of Henderson to roll out ‘Henderson Strong’ comprehensive plan update at community open house events

henderson-strongThe City of Henderson is hosting two open houses in January to allow residents to learn more about and review its updated comprehensive plan, Henderson Strong, which builds a foundation for long-term economic success and community livelihood. The events will be held:

The open houses will feature various maps for proposed land use updates, as well as informational stations on topics including healthy and livable communities, vibrant and resilient economy, transportation, implementing the vision, and key priority areas. There will also be activities for children.

Henderson staff spent the past 18 months gathering public input on priorities, goals, and implementation strategies, and crafting the plan.

Local governments are required by state law to have an updated and reflective comprehensive plan. Henderson’s updated plan was prompted by the significant demographic and economic changes it has experienced since its last comprehensive plan was adopted in 2006, as well as a projected population growth that is estimated to add an additional 100,000 residents to the community over the next 20 years.

Henderson Strong utilizes research and strategies vetted through the Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) Regional Plan, but on a local level and in ways that work for Henderson’s unique community needs.

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Beyond the Valley: Seattle’s bet on transit-oriented development, Atlanta’s transformation of abandoned railroad track, the benefits of separated bike lanes, and more!

protected bike laneHere are a handful of stories from around the country and Canada that have captured our attention recently. Each article highlights how innovative, forward-thinking regional planning and policy can result in tangible community impacts.

Why protected bike lanes save lives A new study shows that cities with separated bicycling infrastructure saw big safety improvements and higher bike ridership numbers.

Battling Inequality, Seattle Bets on Transit-Oriented Housing A new regional revolving loan fund established by a coalition of public, private, and nonprofit partners will support affordable homes close to bus and rail corridors throughout the Puget Sound area.

How an old loop of railroads is changing the face of a city (video) Urban planner Ryan Gravel shares the story of how his hometown of Atlanta, Ga. rallied to build a massive urban park that will transform an abandoned railroad track into 22 miles of public green space called the Atlanta BeltLine. The places we live aren’t inevitable, he says — and if we want something different, we need to speak up.

Vancouver’s Multi-Modal Success Story (video) Perhaps one of the best transportation stories of 2016 comes from Vancouver, B.C., where 50 percent of all trips are taken via sustainable modes (bicycling, walking, transit), and 10 percent of all work commuters now ride bikes to work. Here’s how they did it.