A year ago, the City of Reno reinstituted the Neighborhood Advisory Boards (NABs). These were defunded by the prior administration, but the current one brought them back. Reno is divided into 5 different wards, and each ward has a NAB that meets monthly. The NAB meetings give city citizens direct face time with the city council member that represents the ward that you live in. In addition, the NAB meetings provide excellent forums to present education, opportunities, and issues to citizens. Attendance at each NAB only costs you 2 hours each month and you get a great way to stay on top on happenings in your corner of the city in return. It actually confuses me why more people do not attend these meetings. And if you happen to have more time and a passion for civil affairs, you can actually request to fill a vacancy on a NAB that represents the ward that you live in. Find out more about the wards of Reno and how to attend a NAB here.
In one of the past NAB meetings, I learned about the phone apps that the City of Reno provides citizens to stay connected. There are three at this time and they can be found here.
The best by far is the Official City of Reno App. This app is how you say…”off the hook”… Get this app installed on your phone, create an account, and viola! you will now have the power to call upon the mighty power of Reno Code Enforcement, Graffiti Removal Squad, Public Works, and perhaps the Reno Police Department (but they have their own app…). The most useful feature of this app is “Report An Issue”. You turn on your phone’s GPS, point the camera at one of ~72 reportable code violation issues, take a picture, write a quick note explaining what is wrong, and send it off. The City of Reno will send you updates as they abate the issue – some are fast, and some take a real long time (yes, there is still due process for some offenders, but be patient!).
One of the issues that gets corrected fast is graffiti on public property. The City of Reno is very responsive to tackling blight these days and this is a great positive on real estate values in the city. I have been walking the street and reporting graffiti, just to see the Graffiti Squad truck pull up within minutes to remove the graffiti. They remove it by painting over, or scrubbing it off. With guys like this lurking about town, the Graffiti Squad are city heroes. Graffiti on private property can be reported as well, but the city has to get the property owner’s permission before removal operations can begin – it is still worth reporting, because most property owners will permit the city to remove the blight for them. Reporting graffiti with this app takes scant moments and the graffiti goes away fast once reported – use the app!
Another issue that you can report, but takes a while to take care of is city infrastructure problems. When the Official City of Reno App was released about a year ago, I used it to report a damaged sidewalk in front of my house. A tree root had pushed up one of the sidewalk sections over the years and created a substantial tripping hazard. I walked out my front door, shot a photo of the sidewalk, sipped my coffee, did a quick write up, then sent it off to the city. About a month later, the city sent out a Public Works team that highlighted the crack with a hot pink spray paint. At first I thought “not cool” for them to do that and just leave it for months. I’m guessing that it was better than nothing and at least it highlighted the tripping hazard to pedestrians. Then, about 6 months later, I left for the weekend, and as if by some sort of magic, the sidewalk was repaired and that was that! The sidewalk fairies/leprechauns/whatever came and shaved off the offensive sidewalk lip and now people can walk in front of my house without the fear of tripping and falling flat on their face.
Remember, a lot of the corrective activity and repairs are completed as the city’s budget allows; but if nobody reports it, then it will never be fixed. Period. And the City of Reno has definitely done well to enable its citizens to easily articulate and report issues to the city.