January 2018 Newsletter
Renowned Oklahoma City mayor shares successes, insights at 2017 SNS Summit
With a focus on working regionally, Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) partners outlined progress over the last year at SNS’s annual summit, which began with an inspiring keynote address from Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, who is widely recognized as having led the city’s recent transformation.
Attended by more than 160 leaders and stakeholders, the summit showcased collaborative efforts to plan, create, and sustain communities by advancing important regional projects. The morning event was held at the Springs Preserve on Dec. 13.
Cornett, one of the most honored mayors in U.S. history, provided insights into how he worked with regional leaders to garner the support needed to usher in an aggressive transformation of the city’s core infrastructure. Funded with sales tax, largely on a “pay as you go” basis, these projects helped elevate the city’s status, attracting new businesses and residents, as well as the Oklahoma City Thunder, the city’s first professional sports team.
Among the transformational projects Cornett noted were infrastructure improvements that enhanced walkability and bikeability, an urban streetcar, and a 70-acre downtown park.
Following Cornett, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) President Len Jessup discussed the economic and health impacts the university’s new School of Medicine will have on Southern Nevada, and shared other collaborative initiatives UNLV has in the works. The medical school, which welcomed its first class during the fall of 2017, was a landmark effort advanced by regional partners.
The summit included several additional speakers and presentations, including:
- Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) Director of Planning Raymond Hess presented “On Board,” the region’s future transit plan, which is evaluating traditional transit options, new high-capacity alternatives such as light rail, and emerging technologies in transportation.
- Mike Mullin of Nevada HAND (Housing and Neighborhood Development) and Mike Pawlak of Clark County Social Services addressed the current status of regional housing issues, and highlighted how three nonprofits partnered to develop a $47 million project that includes 264 affordable apartments near Boulder Highway with a Boys & Girls Club, charter school, and easy access to jobs and shopping via the RTC transit system.
- Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani provided opening remarks, and Commissioner Larry Brown introduced Cornett.
The summit, originally scheduled for the morning of Oct. 2, 2017 at the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV, was postponed due to the tragedy the night before at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival.
New SNS Livable Centers Study pilot program to help develop vibrant, walkable community in Southern Nevada
Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) launched a pilot program in late 2017 to encourage local jurisdictions to plan and develop vibrant, walkable, and sustainable communities.
The SNS Livable Centers Study and resulting catalyst project – which will be implemented in partnership with a selected local jurisdiction – are intended to encourage walkability, strengthen connections between community activity centers, and support a strong and diverse economy.
The RTC will fund the completion of one pilot project in each of the next two years.
Jurisdictions were required to submit project proposals in December. A selection committee is in the process of reviewing proposals and is expected to identify the top submission in early February.
Livable Centers support the goals and strategies of the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), Access 2040, and are a strategy for achieving the vision and goals of the SNS regional plan. Similar programs underway in the Houston and Atlanta metropolitan regions serve as models for the SNS Livable Centers pilot program.
SNS helps convene stakeholders to discuss affordable housing
Nevada has an affordable housing problem.
State Sen. Julia Ratti (D-Sparks), who repeatedly heard about the shortage of affordable housing from her constituents, hopes to do something about the issue. Ratti is chairing a legislative committee tasked with conducting a study on affordable, supportive and workforce housing in Nevada.
In preparation for the committee’s 2018 meetings, SNS helped convene the region’s key housing stakeholders for a roundtable discussion with Ratti in late October. During the meeting, Ratti gained insight into Southern Nevada’s housing market, as well as where stakeholders felt momentum and opportunities existed.
The roundtable was comprised of stakeholders from across sectors, including private developers, nonprofit service providers, housing advocates, and state and local government representatives. Nevada HAND, Southern Nevada’s largest nonprofit affordable housing developer, helped facilitate the discussion.
The affordable housing study to be conducted by the committee will examine:
- The present and prospective need for affordable housing in Nevada
- Any impediments to the development of affordable housing
- Methods to increase the availability of affordable housing in rural, suburban and urban areas
While various efforts have been made to address Southern Nevada’s affordable housing shortage, the issue has worsened by many measures in recent years.
- In Clark County, there are more than 170,000 families who need affordable housing, but only 32,000 units available, according to the Nevada Housing Division.
- Las Vegas has the biggest shortage of affordable and available rental homes for households classified as “extremely low income” (ELI) – only 12 affordable rental units are available for every 100 ELI households, according to a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The national average is 35.
- Approximately 43 percent of Clark County homeowners and renters spend 30 percent or more of their household income on housing-related expenses.
Ensuring diverse housing types for all preferences and income levels in Southern Nevada is a critical component of the complete communities envisioned in the SNS regional plan. The plan includes strategies and recommendations for ensuring an adequate supply of housing with a range of price, density, ownership and building types.
Boulder Pines Family Apartments is an affordable housing development offering a range of amenities for residents providing a range of family and community services on site.
Click to learn more about the housing goals outlined in the SNS regional plan.
Community partners join SNHD to make healthy choices easier in Southern Nevada
Between 2010 and 2017, the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) was awarded more than $25 million in competitive grant funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to work with community partners to make healthier choices more accessible.
During that same time period, Clark County saw significant improvements in several key chronic disease-associated risk factors:
- The percentage of adults who report eating little or no vegetables decreased from 27.2 percent in 2011 to 19.2 percent in 2015
- Decreases in the percent of overweight and obese Clark County School District (CCSD) students were observed among all genders, ages, and race/ethnic subgroups measured
- Smoking rates among Clark County high school students declined from 7.8 percent in 2013 to 5.9 percent in 2015
- The percentage of adults in Nevada with diabetes who reported attending a diabetes self-management class increased by approximately 25 percent from 2011 to 2015
- Daily consumption of soda by high school students declined from 2013 to 2015
- The percentage of youth meeting physical activity guidelines increased from 22.4 percent to 27.1 percent between 2013 and 2015
Supporting access to healthcare, healthy food, and healthy lifestyles is a target in the Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) Regional Plan.
Of the $25 million in grants awarded to SNHD, more than 75 percent was distributed to community partners in an effort to maximize the collective impact of the funding to improve health while also creating and sustaining jobs in the community. With the grant funding, multiple voluntary policy and environmental changes were implemented across the valley.
Efforts in Clark County focused on increasing access to smoke-free or tobacco-free environments, increasing access to environments with healthy food or beverage options, increasing access to opportunities for physical activity, and increasing referrals from clinical settings to community-based chronic disease education and self-management resources.
Click to view a SNHD fact sheet with additional details on efforts undertaken by partners and the recent community-wide health improvements.
25 Years of Transit in Southern Nevada
Last month, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) celebrated its 25th anniversary as the transit agency for the Las Vegas Valley.
“We have achieved a lot of milestones in our 25 years, but I am even more excited for the next 25 years given the unbelievable advancements in technology that will transform transportation, and transit, as we know it,” said Tina Quigley, RTC general manager.
Considered one of the younger transit systems in the country, the RTC has grown to include 39 routes with 3,380 bus stops, provides more than 64 million passenger trips each year and is ranked as the 15th busiest bus system in the nation by the National Transit Database. The following are several examples of how much the system has grown over the last 25 years:
- 1992: 21, short, indirect routes
- Now: 39 routes in primarily straight grid lines along major arterials across the valley
- 1992: 19.4 million passenger trips per year
- Now: 64 million passenger trips per year
- 1992: 574,000 service hours per year
- Now: 1,685,000 service hours per year (nearly triple the amount from 1992)
- 1992: One frequent service route and one 24-hour route
- Now: Nine frequent service routes and 13 24-hour routes
In recent years, the RTC has added three new residential routes to meet increased demand for transit services in fast growing areas of the valley. In addition, the RTC recently launched four Golden Knights Express routes for the 2017 – 2018 Vegas Golden Knights inaugural season that each provide non-stop service from various locations across the valley to T-Mobile Arena.
The RTC has also made a commitment to leveraging technology to improve the customer experience. In late 2016, the agency introduced rideRTC, a smartphone ticketing and trip planning app, and debuted free Wi-Fi on all of its fixed-route vehicles. Most recently, the RTC partnered with AAA, Keolis and the City of Las Vegas to launch the first driverless shuttle that runs in mixed traffic along a 0.6 mile route in downtown Las Vegas.
Looking to the future, the RTC is working with the community to develop a comprehensive transit plan for Southern Nevada called On Board. This visionary plan will identify how enhancements to the current bus system, new high capacity transit services and emerging transit technologies can improve future mobility and accessibility for the region’s residents and visitors.
One year going on two wheels: RTC Bike Share celebrates its first birthday
Southern Nevada’s first bike share system celebrated its inaugural birthday this past November with a celebration at the Downtown Container Park. The birthday festivities included music and entertainment, food, a raffle, and a community bike ride.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman opened the event by recalling the excitement around the launch of the bike share system a year prior and highlighted what the city has done to encourage bicycling in the downtown area, such as the dedicated green bike lanes.
Check out the video above for highlights of the celebration.
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) launched bike share in downtown Las Vegas in November 2016 with 21 stations and 180 bikes.
BY THE NUMBERS: Bike Share’s first year of operation
- More than 9,000 passes sold
- More than 18,000 trips
- Nearly 60,000 miles traveled
- More than 2 million calories burned during rides
- As many as 56,000 lbs. of carbon monoxide prevented
Due to its continued success and to best serve customers, the RTC is evaluating potential new locations for Bike Share stations within downtown Las Vegas.
For more information on RTC Bike Share, visit bikeshare.rtcsnv.com.
Local United Way launches comprehensive community data digital tool
United Way of Southern Nevada (UWSN) recently launched Community Connect, a new online information hub that brings together community stories, data, programs, and other resources to help determine our community’s biggest issues and focus advocacy efforts effectively. The first digital tool of its kind, Community Connect is a free, publicly available resource that allows users to access up-to-date community indicators, compare local information by zip code and quickly create reports and visuals that can be shared.
“We understand how challenging it can be to understand community needs, access information and compile reports, so we created Community Connect,” said Elaina Mulé, UWSN Vice President, Collective Impact and Social Innovation. “This important community tool helps to identify Southern Nevada’s toughest problems so we can provide resources where they are needed most.”
Community Connect puts all the information visitors need at their fingertips, providing an easy-to-use online tool with information aggregated from more than 30 local and national sources, all in one place. Visitors can quickly create up-to-date reports, publications and infographics that help provide insight into how issues impact day-to-day life in Southern Nevada. The hub’s Community Stories section connects visitors to real stories from people who’ve received help and organizations who are giving help, and provides them the opportunity to add their own voice.
To learn more, please visit CommunityConnect.uwsn.org. To schedule an onsite Community Connect Training Session, please contact Laurie Mann, UWSN Senior Marketing Director at 702-892-2362 or LaurieM@uwsn.org. To view the site tour, click here: http://bit.ly/UWSN_CCdemo.
News Beyond the Valley
Here are a handful of stories that have caught our attention recently. Each article highlights how innovative, forward-thinking regional planning and policy can have tangible community impacts.
No Longer New York City’s ‘Boulevard of Death’ The 300-foot wide Queens Boulevard has been known as the “Boulevard of Death.” Since 1990, it has claimed 186 lives, 74 percent being pedestrians, including 18 in 1997 alone. A series of safety improvements have brought fatalities to zero since 2014.
Detroit becomes latest city to remove an expressway that segregated a community After years of study and debate, the Michigan Department of Transportation is moving ahead with plans to rip out Detroit’s I-375 expressway and restore a surface street there, with landscaped medians, bicycle lanes and other amenities. The commitment to remove I-375 puts Detroit firmly in the ranks of cities trying to undo the damage done a half-century ago by ramming high-speed freeways through urban neighborhoods.
Road signs suck. What if we got rid of them all? (with video) Some cities in Europe are undergoing a fascinating transformation: they’re getting rid of all of their road signs. That’s thanks to a design concept called “shared space,” where urban planners drastically lessen the presence of traffic lights, signs, and barriers, encouraging all forms of transportation to share the road.
Solar Energy Prices Continue to Plunge While Coal Prices Climb Higher Costs for solar power and other forms of renewable energy continue to dip. Falling prices can be attributed to more efficient technology and auction practices, which ensure the lowest-possible price for building.
Where It Pays to Drive Electric Buying an electric vehicle (EV) has long been pitched as being about saving something — the planet, your lungs, your children’s future, etc. But a new report emphasizes how EVs can drive consumer savings. EVs aren’t just more environmentally friendly than cars with internal combustion engines, they also cost a lot less to drive.