It’s been a really hectic but exciting day. I feel like we’re getting somewhere.
I want to share absolutely everything I can think of to update you, and if there are still questions you have before the GA, please ask.
Today six of us met with the Reno City Council to discuss possible places to occupy 24/7 indefinitely. As with our previously decided approach, we are trying to do this all LEGALLY right now. I can’t lie. I walked into the meeting and had my heart set on RETRAC plaza just like many of you still do.
Let me just say this. The city council is really cooperative. They were cracking jokes, offering ideas beyond what they needed to do for their job, and they genuinely seemed like they wanted to see this movement succeed. We’re all pretty good judges of character. Believe me, most of these people were trying to help. They went ahead and did some research for us which we combined with research we had already done ourselves. They gave us a sheet with stats on several locations- approximate square footage, average daily traffic, and dates where events were already planned on each property.
They offered advice on pursuing both public and private occupation locations- things like permits, the boundaries of exercising our constitutional rights without a permit, contacting the fire dept, waste management, health department, etc. We also found out that the city charges a certain amount daily to have events on public property.
Here’s a recap on various locations that have been brought up in the past:
Wingfield Park: closed for permits Oct 1-May 1
City Plaza: Ice rink beginning Oct 27
ReTRAC plaza: events planned at least 2 days out of every month through January.
Parklane Mall space: We contacted the owner of this private property, and he said he was absolutely not interested.
Moana Pool Site: Pool no longer in service. No events planned at this time.
The Moana Pool site stood out for several reasons that ReTRAC did not. First and foremost, ReTRAC is $150 for half the plaza or $250 for the full plaza per day! The Moana Pool site is only $35 per day. Furthermore, the entire ReTRAC plaza is 16,400 square feet while the Moana Pool site is 55,897 square feet. The average daily traffic for the Moana Pool site is 12,000 people compared with 11,000 for ReTRAC.
We went down to the Moana site immediately after this meeting to check it out. A short video tour of the site is below for those who aren’t familiar with it or haven’t been in years. Within a couple minutes, I was beginning to consider it seriously, and by the time we left, it really seemed like something worthy of calling an emergency GA on Thursday to discuss.
From the perspective of several of us, here are some pros and cons. Please use this as a conversation starter as we really want to hear everyone’s ideas on this space and answer questions you might have.
-This is one of the hardest hit areas in Reno. We would really be getting into the heart of the community with an opportunity to actually make this useless space into something socially valuable.
-It’s within a block of the major intersection of Virginia St. and Moana Lane.
-It’s extremely close to the city bus line.
-There is enough space to accommodate 1,000+ people and have enough room for areas for things like meetings, a community library, food, camping, information, yoga, musical performances, sign making, a garden, teach-ins, and anything else you can think of as well as plenty of space to park bicycles and cars.
-We would be in a safer and more private location at night. We would most likely have less issues with noise, drunk people, etc. at night which would be likely downtown. It could be a nice home base location to come back to after marches and protests in downtown and financial districts.
-We would have the opportunity to stay indefinitely if a better location wasn’t found in the future and plenty of room to grow and really show a strong community presence.
-It’s about 2 1/2 miles from the financial district/downtown Reno area.
-It is not as immediately visible from the street.
This is our line of thought in the matter. When I say we, I mean the 6 of us at the meeting and the majority of the Outreach Committee who discussed all these issues at the meeting tonight.
Some other things to keep in mind that we learned today at the meeting:
-It cost $400 a month for an event permit to have overnight camping even in a private location.
-An event permit usually takes 60 days or more to process. If we can decide on a location, the city has promised to process it in no more than 2 weeks, though likely less than that. This means we could be occupying by no later than Nov. 4 if we agree to this location Thursday and can get our permit in on Friday.
We have been working nonstop for the past few weeks trying to figure all these things out. Beyond the permit, we need insurance, a spreadsheet layout of where everything will be, and approval from the Health Department and Fire Department. We are confident we can get these things done by the end of the week.
If you have any concrete ideas on a better location, please contact us before Thursday’s GA if possible so that we can pursue these options asap. No decisions have been made, and we will make a move to approve this site (and any other sites) on Thursday. Keep in mind-we don’t have to stay here permanently but it would give us a chance to start occupying very soon.
So the big things to remember:
1) We are having a GA on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Moana Pool at 240 W. Moana Lane. The only issue on the agenda will be a move to determine our future occupation site.
2) We will still be having a march and GA on Saturday. The time and format is identical to last Saturday (Meet at JCSU at noon. Have a short GA to go over nonviolence principles and our legal rights to march. March from the JCSU at UNR to City Plaza from 12-1, and have a GA from 1-4 p.m.)
Below is a virtual tour of Moana Pool filmed today.
Thanks again for taking the time and keeping yourself informed and up to date. I’m anxious to hear your thoughts!