Make Reno Great (the right way)

Issue: Growth in a Community in a Capitalist Society

“However, we desire stability for the future and seek to minimize speculative markets like the one that made us particularly vulnerable to the Great Recession.” (From document Reinvent Reno- referenced below)

The material on these pages comes from two documents sent me in response to my concern that this city in which I live, Reno, is going to grow and, like other cities the experience a growing economy, will not do what is necessary to prevent economic troubles, even disaster, for those already living here.  As the better economy replaces the not so good one, the cost of living typically rises.  As I pointed out in my post regarding my worries, I noted that already the cost of housing for both those buying homes and those renting is already rising rather rapidly.  The documents from which these bits and pieces are taken show that the problem is being recognized (this town has gone through boom and bust and reboom cycles before).   I do see in these documents notions of what must be done if the citizens of Reno, all of its citizens, are to prosper because of and, for some, in spite of) the economic recovery that is currently taking place.  Such things as “affordable housing incentives” and “affordable housing retention,” for instance, if realized, would help to bring about something like a comfortable transition.  Realization is the key issue here for too often plans based in good intentions do those who are to benefit by them little actual good because they remain intentions and nothing more.

If the City of Reno really wants to do right by all of its citizens there are two unthinkable but truly sensible ideas that should become integral elements of the laws and the rules that pertain to growth and its effects.

  1. All businesses, all employers, to be considered legitimate under the laws and the rules must pay their employees a living wage, that is, an amount of compensation that makes it possible for any employee working full time to be able to live a decent life in the community. Businesses that cannot afford to pay at such a rate should not be licensed to operate in Reno because they are not legitimate businesses and problematic entities in regard to the community existing as a healthy community.  This is why 1. 3b is so troubling an item in the document the City of Reno has produced titled Reimagine Reno ( from which the material in red is taken.  Casinos in Reno consistently pay considerable portions of their employees considerably less than a living wage.  Low wage industry is not something any sensible community should support because their existence inevitably leads to profits subsidized by government, through taxes collected from entities other than themselves.  They are taxing!
  2. Housing prices must be regulated, the cost of rental housing, in particular, tied to the calculation develop to determine what constitutes a living wage. That is how “affordable” is prevented from becoming “unaffordable” as the community becomes more prosperous.
  3. Posted as Addendum:  On the previous post I listed two essential elements of a remake of Reno (any town) that wishes to reinvent itself to become a place where the guiding principle for decision making is humanization, the primary concern of government in all matters being that all are served well by the decisions of government bodies.  In the piece I focused on matters of a living wage and availability of truly affordable housing.  There is a third component and it is critical to the implementation and maintenance of the truly humane city, an educational system that is focused squarely on, primarily on, first and foremost on helping students become effective and active participants in the democratic decision making process so that the decisions they make as citizens are sensible in the context of a humane society.  A place with a citizenry adept at deciding what is right and what is fair, that cares that decisions affecting all are fair and good for all is the decent place to live.As it stands, the primary goal of schools in the United States of America is to prepare students for the job market and not to participate in determining a proper and righteous economic system for a country founded on principles such as those described in the Declaration of Independence.  What sensibly educated  and humane person would ever support an economic system that, in order to help a few become wealthy, sets conditions that cause the lives of a good many to be well below the standard that those who have would find to be tolerable for themselves?

    So, point three:

    3.  Create schools that are dedicated to helping students grow good sense and develop the skills and knowledge and dispositions that allow them to be effective and humane participants in the decision making process by which people in a democratic society determine what is in the bests interests of the people, all people and not just some.

    Wild ideas, indeed, because we live in society dominated by an economic system that makes it impossible for good numbers of people to live decent lives and we have somehow been made to ignore the inhumanity of such a system.  Reno could become a humane community, a model for the best kind of community a sensible democratic society can produce, one in which all of the people live decent human lives.  Reno could dedicate itself, as a community, to going beyond what is possible in terms of funding for such things as education and health care, for instance by using government to make possible what is needed for the good of the whole.  A populace payed a living wage and paying taxes that are fair and reasonable for all can do a lot more than one in which necessary things for insuring high quality of life for all are unaffordable. 

 From Reimagine Reno: 

3.1b. Housing Options

Encourage a variety of housing options at diverse price points to support the needs of downtown’s diverse residents and workforce—professionals, service workers, entrepreneurs, students, and retirees among others.

  1. 3b. Tourism

Continue to support casinos as a core component of the city’s tourism industry and the Downtown Entertainment District, while seeking to broaden the range of tourism and entertainment-oriented uses that appeal to a more diverse demographic.

4.1f. Universal Design

Promote developments for low-income and affordable senior housing, which are accessible to persons with disabilities.

4.1c. Affordable and Workforce Housing


Develop a broad housing strategy to facilitate and incentivize the creation of affordable housing units for low income residents and attainable housing for the city’s workforce. Update the strategy periodically to address changing needs.

4.1d. Affordable Housing Incentives

Encourage the development of affordable and workforce housing by providing incentives for projects that provide units affordable to income levels identi ed in the housing strategy. Where feasible, promote green building practices to provide futher health bene ts and lower energy costs.

4.1e. Affordable Housing Retention

Support the preservation and rehabilitation of existing affordable housing units through use of incentives and grant funding. Discourage the demolition or conversion of sound, affordable housing stock.

4.3h. Involuntary Displacement

Develop programs, within the strategic housing strategy, that help to prevent displacement of households in neighborhoods undergoing high rates of displacement due to increased housing costs and development.

4.3i. Home Ownership Retention

Support and fund programs that aid in the upkeep and maintenance of homes for lower income households and seniors.

From Truckee Meadows Housing Study (



By lafered

Retired professor of education concerned with thoughtfulness

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