January 2020 – SNS Newsletter

BIG MOVES

 

On Board transportation plan includes ‘8 Big Mobility Moves’ for Southern Nevada

Passengers boarding an RTC bus on the Las Vegas Strip. (Photo credit: RTC of Southern Nevada)

Hundreds of miles of high capacity transit and expanded public transportation service better connecting Southern Nevadans to major destinations in the region could be on tap in the coming two decades if the recommendations in the On Board Regional Mobility Plan are fully implemented.

The plan, which is in the process of being finalized, identifies a vision to address the region’s changing mobility needs, brought on by rapid and sustained growth and technological advancement.

Earlier this month, the RTC of Southern Nevada released a summary of On Board’s eight strategy recommendations – referred to as “Big Mobility Moves” in the plan – for public review.

Click here for a summary of On Board’s draft strategy recommendations.

The plan’s “Big Mobility Moves” aim to make transportation more convenient, safe, and reliable for all users, while strengthening the regional economy and preparing the transportation system for continued growth over the next 20 years.

Among the recommendations include investing in high capacity transit, leveraging emerging technology, and growing the RTC’s service area and expanding specialized services so that the entire Las Vegas valley has access to transportation.

The RTC is currently seeking community input on the “Big Mobility Moves” via a short survey.

“Our community has provided extensive input to help create our valley’s future transportation plan,” said MJ Maynard, the RTC’s chief executive officer. “Now we’re inviting everyone – regardless of transportation preference – to take a look at the recommendations we’ve developed and tell us what you think.”

The development of On Board and its recommendations has spanned nearly three years, and was created with substantial community engagement, data analysis, and applied expertise from local and national experts.

Upwards of 20,000 community members provided input during the development of the plan, according to the RTC.

On Board identifies solutions that work for Southern Nevada and Southern Nevadans,” said Craig Raborn, RTC’s planning director. “This includes future high capacity transit lines, an expanded bus network, and more transportation options through new technologies and services.”

If implemented fully, the region would see approximately 200 miles of high capacity transit – either light rail, bus rapid transit, or rapid bus – on 18 different routes over the next two decades.

The RTC’s service area would also grow, expanding access to more residents, jobs, and community amenities.

The plan also goes beyond existing programs and services, recommending more frequent service for longer hours in many areas, as well as exploring new approaches, such as on-demand services and partnerships with companies like Uber and Lyft to improve access to major destinations and employment hubs to the entire community.


On Board service zones and proposed Southern Nevada high-
capacity transit system. (Graphic courtesy of RTC of Southern Nevada)

On Board’s goal is to expand transit service so that 75 percent of the region’s residents are within a half mile of bus service, and 100 percent of the region will have access to some type of public transportation service,” Raborn said.

In the coming months, the RTC will be putting the finishing touches on the plan – prioritizing projects and identifying potential funding sources – with input from local agencies, stakeholders, and the public.

Through the On Board survey, respondents have the opportunity to rate the importance of the eight categories of transportation improvements within the plan.

During the survey period, which will conclude March 31, participants will be entered into bi-weekly drawings for Vegas Golden Knights tickets.

On Board’s recommendations align with the Southern Nevada Strong Regional Plan, which calls for the region to increase transportation choice by developing a modern transit system with high capacity transit and investing in bicycle and pedestrian facilities, among other strategies.

For more information on the On Board mobility plan, to take the survey, or find out where to connect with the RTC in the community, visit www.OnBoardSNV.com.

The final plan is expected to be completed in early 2020.


Restored neon, shade trees among extensive enhancements coming to Fremont East

Streetscape improvements and placemaking enhancements are underway
along Fremont Street east of Las Vegas Blvd. to transform the area into a
thriving central business corridor. (Photo credit: Eater Las Vegas)

The Fremont East District in downtown Las Vegas will soon be aglow with restored neon signage, reminiscent of the heyday of the city’s downtown streetscapes in the 1950s and 60s.

Accompanying street improvements and placemaking enhancements are already underway on Fremont Street east of Las Vegas Blvd., the result of public-private partnerships between the City of Las Vegas and businesses in the Fremont East District.

The investment aims to spark new life and commercial activity to the stretch of Fremont between Las Vegas Boulevard and 14th Street, known locally as Fremont East.

The public improvements, which are being funded through Fuel Revenue Indexing (FRI) funds, will include widening sidewalks, restoring neon signage, shade trees, new street lighting, and other infrastructure upgrades.

To provide additional shading, a key element for attracting new business, according to the city’s Executive Director of Community Development Tom Perrigo, the city is planting 115 shade trees along Fremont East.

The trees will provide pedestrians new refuge from direct sun and hot summer temperatures, as well as increase downtown’s urban tree canopy coverage, helping reduce the urban heat island effect.

The city is also planning to bring a distinct identity and vibrancy back to Fremont East by re-illuminating the streetscape with restored neon signage.

In 2018, the Las Vegas Centennial Commission awarded the city an $800,000 grant for the restoration of neon signage in the Fremont East District. The grant will allow the city to work with property owners to restore old neon signs that are in disrepair.

The city has also sourced signage that was previously a part of the district and will work with the Neon Museum to restore and reinstall old signage throughout the corridor, according to Brad Jerbic, a city attorney.


New trees planted along Fremont East to provide pedestrians with
additional shade cover and reduce the urban heat island effect
downtown. (Photo courtesy of the City of Las Vegas)

The public improvements are expected to total around $15 million.

Businesses and property owners in the corridor have also committed to improving their vacant and neglected properties, making façade upgrades and visual improvements that aim to improve the aesthetic quality of the commercial corridor.

Downtown Project (DTP), Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s real estate and business development company that owns property throughout downtown, has committed to rehabilitating the facades of several of the vacant properties it owns in the district.

Rehabilitation efforts are to include minor repairs to the exterior, fresh paint, and exterior and interior lighting so that the properties appear more “lived in.”

DTP also recently finished a complete renovation of the Ferguson’s Motel, adding new local shops, restaurants, and green space.

Property owners in downtown may be eligible for the city’s financial and business incentives to assist with their property upgrades, which are offered in redevelopment areas and specific tax districts for launching new businesses, kick-starting development and reimagining properties.

The Fremont East streetscape enhancements are expected to be finished later this fall. Once complete, the city plans to work with leading retail planners to develop a strategic plan for recruiting new business to the district.

The Fremont East enhancements are part of the city’s Project Enchilada plan, an effort to implement parts of the Las Vegas Vision 2045 Downtown Master Plan, which prioritizes improving walkability and more green space, landscaping, and architectural elements throughout the public realm in downtown.

Investing in complete communities is one of the major themes in the Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) Regional Plan. Stabilizing and strengthening existing neighborhoods through placemaking improvements such as those taking place on Fremont East, contribute to this theme and others in the plan.


North Las Vegas council approves Deer Springs ‘Livable Centers Study’

Conceptual rendering of a linear park design for the Job Creation Zone within the Deer Spring District.

Southern Nevada may soon see the addition of another regional retail and employment destination, as the newly approved “Deer Springs District Livable Centers Study” looks to bring new amenities to the Deer Springs District in North Las Vegas.

The North Las Vegas City Council unanimously approved a resolution to accept the study during their January 15 council meeting.

The study, which was managed by city planning staff and funded by the RTC of Southern Nevada, was developed to create a vision and set the tone for future development in the area.

“RTC encouraged us to push the envelope with the study and go beyond the normal, past way of doing things to create the Deer Spring District,” said Johanna Murphy, a principal planner with the city.

Murphy expects the study to serve as a guide for new development and placemaking strategies within the Deer Springs District, providing actionable recommendations for transforming the area into a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood with multimodal access and diverse housing options.

The district, a 2.5-mile corridor located in the north end of the valley just west of the I-15, is home to the region’s Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, Skyview YMCA, and a congressionally approved Job Creation Zone, as well as some residential subdivisions.

The study looks to capitalize on these existing amenities to create an area rich with employment opportunities, entertainment options, and housing for all income levels.

Building on the strength of the Skyview YMCA, the plan calls for an expansion of the Skyview Park into a regional destination, providing more outdoor recreation space for the facility, as well as needed open space for the district’s residents and the region.

The study also provides an urban design concept for the Job Creation Zone, balancing new development with open space through the creation of a linear park.

Additional recommendations include:

    • Revising the city’s land use policies to create a variety of professional commercial uses and supporting residential development typologies
    • Implementing the city’s Complete Streets policies
    • Prioritizing pedestrian and biking opportunities throughout the district
    • Developing a brand that will give the Deer Springs District a distinct identity


The Deer Springs District is approximately 2.5-miles in 
length. Its boundaries are Commerce Street, Walnut Rd.,
Centennial Pkwy., and the Bruce Woodberry Beltway (CC-215).

 

The study is the result of an 18-month planning process that included extensive collaboration between the city’s planning, public works, and economic development departments. A stakeholder advisory group was also created to ensure that residents’ ideas and concerns for the area were accounted for and included in the plan.

Planning consulting firm Asakura Robinson, which has experience with Livable Centers plans in other regions, was hired to assist with the study.

The Deer Springs District study was the first project to be approved as part of the RTC’s Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) Livable Centers Study pilot program.

The program was created to assist local jurisdictions with implementing Livable Centers strategies into their current planning activities. Livable Centers is a planning concept that strives to create communities with multimodal transportation options, providing easy access to jobs, recreation, and housing.

The City of Henderson was awarded the region’s second Livable Centers study, focusing on the Galleria District, which recently kicked off.

Livable Centers support the goals and strategies of the RTC’s Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), “Access 2040,” and help achieve the vision and goals of the Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) Regional Plan.

Similar programs underway in the Houston and Atlanta metropolitan regions serve as models for the RTC’s pilot program.


SNHD makes strides advancing health equity in Southern Nevada

Tobacco restrictions, nutrition and physical activity in minority communities focus of health district’s efforts through federal program

Southern Nevada Health District, located at 280 S. Decatur Blvd.
(Photo credit: K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review Journal).

Southern Nevadans can breathe a little easier in 2020 after 75 establishments throughout the region worked with the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) to implement or expand tobacco policies in 2019.

The policies – which included minimum distance requirements, e-cigarette restrictions, and tobacco-free campus elements – also help further the health district’s efforts to address racial and ethnic health disparities, the focus of a federal grant it was awarded in 2018.

SNHD was one of 31 funding recipients of the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program, administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which aims to remove barriers to health linked to race or ethnicity, education, income, location, or other social factors.

Health gaps remain widespread in the U.S. among racial and ethnic minority groups, according to the CDC.

Through REACH, the health district is collaborating with partners to target programming and initiatives in 14 priority zip codes to reduce tobacco use, improve nutrition, and increase physical activity, specifically among black and Hispanic communities.

In 2019, the first year of implementation, SNHD met nine of 11 program milestones, according to an independent project evaluation conducted by the Nevada Institute for Children’s Research & Policy (NICRP).

In addition to expanding tobacco policies in workplaces, the health district also identified nearly 1,400 smoke-free housing units across the region, which were added to its Smoke-Free Housing directory, as well as helped increase call volumes to the Nevada Tobacco Quitline by more than 10 percent among priority populations.

While smoking among adults has reached all-time lows in the U.S. in recent years, it remains the leading cause of preventable death in the country. In Clark County, nearly 25 percent of black adults are currently smokers, more than 30 percent higher than the county average for adults.


SNHD REACH Year 1
Achievements infographic.
Click to enlarge.

To address REACH nutrition objectives, SNHD worked with UNLV’s food pantry to develop a plan for increasing healthier offerings, and also helped coordinate on-campus events and campaigns to increase healthy food access at UNLV, a minority-serving higher education institution. At the campus’ first “Produce Day,” more than 500 people received fresh produce and other healthy food items.

Approximately one-third of UNLV students reported low food security levels in a survey conducted last year by the UNLV Nutrition Sciences Department.

SNHD also helped fund a market feasibility study and focus groups to identify opportunities to improve access to healthy food retailers in priority geographic areas in Henderson.

The health district worked with the cities of Las Vegas and Henderson on two separate projects that aim to increase levels of physical activity among priority populations. To encourage active transportation around the Las Vegas Medical District, SNHD worked with partners – including UNLV, RTC of Southern Nevada, the Nevada Minority Health & Equity Coalition and the city – to assess the health impacts of a pedestrian improvement plan and provide recommendations for increasing walkability and bikeability.

And a 10-minute walk assessment was conducted in Henderson to identify barriers and improve walkable access to the city’s parks, trails, and recreations centers.

Click the infographic above for a summary of REACH Year 1 achievements.

REACH recipients are funded for a 5-year period.

The objectives of REACH address a range of strategies in the Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) Regional Plan, including enhancing equitable access to healthcare and community services, healthy food, and opportunities for physical activity, as well as making walking and biking safer and more convenient.


Volunteers’ perseverance leads to Tule Springs Fossil Beds 5-year anniversary

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument sign.
(Photo credit: Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review Journal).

Dozens of community leaders, park supporters, and elected officials gathered last month to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the designation of Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, considered to be one of the greatest records of Ice Age fossils in the world.

The event, hosted by the park’s official friends group, the Protectors of Tule Springs, highlighted the perseverance that it took to establish the national monument, on which more than 11,000 Ice Age fossils have been found.

“I am so happy and proud of all of you who have come together as the Protectors of Tule Springs to make this accomplishment happen,” said U.S. Sen. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) via a special 5-year anniversary video message. “We would not be here without your advocacy.”

In 2006, when a small group of North Las Vegas residents discovered that the last undeveloped portions of the Upper Las Vegas Wash basin were rich in paleontological fossils and rare native plants, they banded together to protect the area from being developed.

They met with elected officials across all levels of government, worked with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and canvassed the community with information about the Ice Age resources spread across the site’s 22,650 acres.

As they hit milestones, their membership grew, and in 2012, they became a formal non-profit corporation – the Protectors of Tule Springs. Their hard work continued and became even more impactful.

In June of 2012, U.S. Senators Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) introduced a bill to designate the area as a national monument. U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) introduced a bill in the House.

An 11-foot-long mammoth tusk found in a quarry at.
Tule Springs. (Photo credit: Public Lands Alliance)

Although the bills didn’t pass the 112th Congress, they were re-introduced by the 113th Congress and, on Dec. 19, 2014, were passed and signed into law.

“To think this is the fifth anniversary of having accomplished this says it all,” said Reid in a congratulatory video played at the event. “Here in Las Vegas, high desert, to have buried in the ground from eons ago all the bones of these old, old animals – it’s unbelievable,” Reid said.

“It’s really a wonderful, wonderful monument for not only the Las Vegas metropolitan area [and the] state of Nevada, but for the country,” he added.

While the establishment of the park depended largely on grassroots efforts and support at the federal level, support from local leaders and organizations was – and will continue to be – instrumental in preserving and sustaining the park.

Over the past five years, local groups and advocates have played an important role in surveying the park’s paleontological, archaeological and biological resources, as well as educating youth to promote conservation stewardship and conducting cleanups and coordinating plans for future nearby developments.

Some of the local Tule Springs champions in attendance at the anniversary event included Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick, former Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, Las Vegas Mayor Pro Tem Michele Fiore and North Las Vegas City Councilman Richard Cherchio.

Support was also shown by paleontologists from the U.S. Geological Survey’s local offices and UNLV, as well as representatives from BLM, Nevada State Parks, Get Outdoors Nevada, Friends of Nevada Wilderness, and Nature Conservancy, among other local organizations.


Click to enlarge.

“Protectors is proud to have been part of the effort to protect this unique paleontological treasure,” said Jill DeStefano, president of Protectors of Tule Springs. “We will continue to support the National Park Service as they create the management plan and vision for the monument’s future.”

Tule Springs National Monument is located approximately 20 miles north of the Las Vegas Strip in the city of North Las Vegas and stretches along US Highway 95 north of Aliante and Centennial Hills to Creech Air Force Base. It is managed by the National Park Service.

Among the fossils that have been discovered on the site include those of the Columbian Mammoth, Dire Wolf, American Lion, Saber Tooth Cat, as well as massive sloths the size of sports cars and ancient bison.

The Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) Regional Plan includes strategies for conserving and preserving the valley’s natural areas and environments, as well as increasing access to the region’s parks and open spaces.

For more information about Tule Springs Fossil Beds, visit nps.gov/tusk. For more information about the Protectors and to join a guided hike or cleanup, visit protectorsoftulesprings.org.


News Beyond the Valley

Here are a handful of stories that have caught our attention. Each article highlights how innovative, forward-thinking regional planning, policies, and initiatives can have tangible community impacts.

5 bold urban design projects that made cities more fun, clean, and accessible in 2019

Fast Company: Cities can get rid of cars — and build urban ski slopes!

 

New Jersey pays hospitals to build affordable housing

New Jersey’s Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency offers significant subsidies to encourage local hospitals to build housing for low-income residents and frequent users of hospital services.

 

Public libraries’ latest offering: Musical instruments

A growing number of libraries across North America have developed programs that allow library-card holders to take home instruments that range from electric guitars and keyboards to drum pads and cowbells.

 

Why Kansas City’s free transit experiment matters

Kansas City is the first major one in the U.S. to offer no-cost public transportation. Will a boost in subsidized mobility pay off with economic benefits?

 

NYC’s new ‘Internet Master Plan’ aims to close the digital divide

In an effort to close the city’s digital divide, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has released a plan to partner with private companies to bring affordable, high-speed internet service to the city’s five boroughs.