January 11, 2017

January 2017 Newsletter

Look Ahead: What’s coming up in 2017?

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Following a year of progress and foundation building in 2016, the Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) team is planning for an energetic and impactful 2017. SNS will continue to build upon the momentum of the last year by focusing on:

  • Advancing 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.
  • Increasing 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.
  • Encouraging 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.
  • Continuing to track progress and share 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.

For a full recap of 2016 accomplishments, check out our 2016 SNS Accomplishments report, which details community engagement activities, facilitating workshops and discussions, and supporting the efforts of SNS regional partners.

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SNS implementation spotlight: Transit-oriented development

Transit Oriented DevelopmentA 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 coordinate and facilitate this discussion 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 can 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 governments, 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.

For more information about TOD visit https://www.transit.dot.gov/TOD.

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Las Vegas considers zoning overhaul to further boost downtown development

Las Vegas - Fremont StThe 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 spur mixed-use development.

Lisa Wise, whose California-based consulting firm has worked with cities to implement urban-form zoning, presented on how cities such as Denver, Nashville, and Austin have benefited by adopting urban-form zoning. When implemented correctly, Wise said urban-form zoning can provide for greater design and development flexibility and encourage walkable, mixed-use development. It can also make the development and permitting processes more efficient and predictable for developers.

Urban-form zoning focuses on physical form and the location of buildings, more so than the uses inside buildings. It may permit retail businesses to be located in the same neighborhood as housing but require buildings to be situated close to the street, resulting in sidewalks lined with vibrant mixed-used buildings rather than parking lots.

Conventional zoning has traditionally been used in the region and focuses on separating building uses by regulating how buildings can and cannot be used. Conventional zoning, for example, has historically mandated that housing be developed in residential districts and businesses be located in commercial districts.

At the joint meeting, Tom Perrigo, the City of Las Vegas’ planning director, said 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 amongst the 12 distinct downtown districts.

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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News Beyond the Valley

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 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.