October 2016 Newsletter

Annual SNS summit gathers 130 community leaders

SNS SummitMore than 130 stakeholders gathered on Sept. 26 for the 2016 Southern Nevada Strong annual summit to discuss the past year’s successes in creating complete communities through public, private and non-profit partnerships.

This year, the SNS summit featured partners who are making strides in our community to implement our valley’s first federally recognized regional plan. Debra March, SNS steering committee chair and City of Henderson councilwoman, and Tina Quigley, general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), kicked off the half-day event at the Springs Preserve.

The director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Steve Hill, launched into an overarching discussion of the region’s economic development plans, sharing the events that led to securing deals with electric vehicle startup Faraday Future. City of North Las Vegas Assistant City Manager Ryann Juden and Land Development Associates owner David Brown co-presented on the inception of APEX Industrial Park and economic recovery of the North Las Vegas.

Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) Chief Health Officer Dr. Joseph Iser and Three Square Chief Operating Officer Dan Williams addressed access to health care and healthy food in the region. Dr. Iser shared an overview of the new Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), identifying SNHD’s priorities to build a healthy community, while Williams touched on Three Square’s work to eliminate food deserts across the valley.

The theme of “access” continued with the third discussion between Mike Janssen, deputy director of public works for the City of Las Vegas, and Erin Breen, executive director of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ (UNLV) Vulnerable Users Project. The two highlighted the current work being done in downtown Las Vegas to increase biking and walking with the addition of 47 new bike lanes, 89 miles of enhanced bike facilities and 23 miles of new multi-use trails.

City of Henderson Director of Community Development Stephanie Garcia-Vause and Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) Regional Planning Manager Rae Lathrop detailed the development of the SNS Regional Plan and discussed its transition to the RTC for implementation. The City of Henderson is in the process of developing its own comprehensive plan, Henderson Strong, to maintain the principles developed in SNS.

Keynote speaker Charles Montgomery, award-winning author of Happy City, Transforming our Lives through Urban Design, concluded the summit with an in-depth look at how city and neighborhood designs have profound effects on the community’s health and happiness. He provided a frank assessment of some of the obstacles the region faces, such as the tendency to sprawl neighborhoods outside of the community core. Montgomery, who has advised urban planners and policymakers across North America and the United Kingdom, cited a variety of research that has found that people are happier in walkable, accessible communities.

Thank you to all who attended this year’s summit and all of our partners who continue to implement SNS strategies that better the livelihood of the entire region. More photos from the event are available here.



RTC Bike Share launches in downtown Las Vegas

Bike ShareLas Vegas became the latest city to bring bike share to its community, further enhancing transportation options for residents and the world-class experience for millions of visitors. The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) launched RTC Bike Share, the valley’s first public bike share system in downtown Las Vegas, on Sept. 30.

RTC Bike Share provides a convenient and easy-to-use transportation alternative to short trips in the downtown area where users can check out a bike from one station and return it to another station near their final destination. With 21 stations at popular downtown locations and 180 bikes available 24 hours a day, bike share program stands to increase transportation choice – one of the main goals of the SNS Regional Plan – throughout the area.

Priced at $4 for a 30-minute ride, $8 for a 24-hour pass and $20 for a 30-day membership, RTC Bike Share is an inexpensive way to make trips that are too long to walk, but too short to drive. As part of the 24-hour pass and 30-day membership, users can check out a bike for 30 minutes at a time, for as many trips as their pass duration allows, without being charged an extra fee.

The program complements downtown Las Vegas’ dedicated green bike lanes and is the latest addition to the RTC’s current cycling initiatives, including the state-of-the-art bike center at the Bonneville Transit Center and hundreds of miles of bike routes throughout the valley. The system also supports Southern Nevada Strong’s goal of increasing transportation choices for the region’s residents and visitors.

For more information on RTC Bike Share, visit bikeshare.rtcsnv.com and download the BCycle app in the App Store and Google Play.



Help shape the new Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan

Public comment period open until Nov. 15

Regional Bike & PedThe Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) is seeking feedback on the draft Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. Visit www.rtcsnv.com/bikeped to check out where new bike facilities are proposed, participate in an online mapping activity and survey, and share your ideas.

The public comment period is open through Nov. 15.

The RTC is updating the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan with support from the Southern Nevada Health District through a Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The plan aims to prioritize bicycle and pedestrian facilities for the regional transportation system, as well as identify policies and programs to comprehensively support the network.

The plan addresses a major goal of the Southern Nevada Strong Regional Plan: to increase transportation choices for residents and visitors.



Opportunity Site Highlight: Las Vegas Medical District

Opportunity SitesThe prognosis is looking good for the Las Vegas Medical District (LVMD).

Several recent actions have built significant momentum in the downtown district – one of four “Opportunity Sites” in the Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) regional plan – and stand to transform it into one of the Southwest’s premier academic medical districts, as well as a key economic diversifier in the region.

Opp-SitesInitially established in 1997 by the City of Las Vegas in an attempt to cluster medical services around University Medical Center (UMC) and expand medical care in Southern Nevada, LVMD saw little development during the 2000s due to market conditions and economic challenges.

However, early this decade, the city set its sights on revitalizing the stagnant district.

The medical district featured prominently in the city’s 2013 economic development strategy.  And in December of 2015, the Las Vegas City Council approved an updated master plan for the area, marking the beginning of a new chapter for the medical district. The updated plan expanded its boundaries and called for aesthetic enhancements, greater density, and mixed-use development.

Six months later, the Clark County Commission formally transferred more than nine acres of land in the district to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) for its new medical school. When it opens (it’s on track to welcome its first class in fall 2017 after receiving preliminary accreditation last week), the UNLV School of Medicine will be the region’s first public medical school.

Collectively, the new master plan and medical school have the potential to catalyze new development and help the medical district transform from an “Opportunity Site” to a vibrant community hub.

Opportunity Sites - MapWhen creating parts of the new LVMD master plan, the City of Las Vegas drew from the SNS Regional Plan. Examples include applying a “complete streets” approach to create pedestrian-friendly multi-modal connectors, enhancing parking, developing mixed-use residential and commercial spaces, and creating more housing options.

An economic development study of the expanded district during the master planning process found that by 2030, the LVMD and UNLV School of Medicine had the potential to generate:

  • A combined regional impact of $3.6 billion
  • More than 24,000 jobs
  • Government revenue of $181 million

On the healthcare front, officials at the UNLV School of Medicine expect the medical school to improve access to high-quality healthcare in Southern Nevada, increase the number of medical specialists, develop high-level specialty care, and cultivate research dollars and technological advances, all of which are goals spelled out in the SNS Regional Plan.

Currently, the City of Las Vegas is convening a LVMD planning committee, comprised on various stakeholders, to analyze zoning and land-use in the district and recommend necessary changes.

Click here for information on LVMD, and here for the SNS “Opportunity Site” strategy for the medical district.



Beyond Our Valley: A new type of collaboration can shape the future of transportation

What does the future of transportation look like? Is it public transit? Ride sharing? Or perhaps, a perfect mix of both?

The Stanford Social Innovation Review and a host of media outlets covered Ride KC: Bridj, a new collaboration between the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), Ford Motor Company, and ride-sharing service platform Bridj. This first-of-its-kind public-private partnership brings together a transit authority, a major U.S. automaker, and an urban technology startup company to enhance existing mass transit by improving accessibility and creating greater transportation flexibility for residents of the Kansas City metro area.

The one-year pilot program gives riders the ability to request pickups from 14-seat vans that offer more flexible stops than traditional bus routes. The vans – provided by Ford and driven by KCATA union employees – currently run during weekday rush hours in select neighborhoods. However, because the Bridj app determines where “pop-up stops” are located based on user input, officials hope it can make public transportation more convenient for consumers.

At $1.50, the average ride costs the same as a standard city bus fare, according to KCATA.

Kansas City initially approached Bridj about a potential partnership in hopes of offering more flexible options for public transportation, especially those underserved by traditional fixed routes. Ride KC: Bridj is just one example of public transportation agencies partnering with or leveraging ride-sharing services in pilot programs aimed at expanding transportation choice.

While high-capacity transportation infrastructure remains a priority for Southern Nevada, it is also important for our community to respond and adapt to current technologies that will improve mobility for all residents and visitors in Southern Nevada.

The SNS Regional Plan notes that a transportation network that responds to the needs of our community and generates opportunities for economic and physical growth that improves overall access is vital. But where does technology play a role? Tell us on our Facebook page.