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The land use choices we make are a blueprint for our community's design. Our vision of the future provides effective infrastructure that enables all of us to work, raise our families, and educate our children in a safe, clean, and prosperous way. Community infrastructure attracts tourists as well as high paying jobs. Our region will foster sustainable development that meets the needs of present generations without impairing the future generations' ability to meet their own needs.

A respect for the environment helps maximize the use of land and infrastructure. Involved neighborhoods are essential for a thriving community. Smart land use and high quality infrastructure are essential if we are to achieve our vision of a robust economy, world-class education, and safe community.​

To learn more about each indicator, simply click on the icon, chart, map, or graph to be directed to the Community Data Portal, where you will see maps, charts, graphs, year-over-year comparisons, and more.***

***Please note that graphs and other visual aids may only be visible on a desktop or laptop computer. If you are viewing this page on a mobile device, please switch to a desktop or laptop computer for the best viewing experience and the most access to information. 

Overall Community Land Use, Housing & Infrastructure Grade

Land Use and Environment rating: Good

Though much progress has been made to improve the overall community health and wellness, our Truckee Meadows neighbors still are challenged by various obstacles that prevent us from reaching optimal health.

Learn more below about the state of land use and infrastructure in our community. 

Land Use and Environment rating: Good
Evening in Reno
Land Use


Lengthy commutes cut into workers' free time and can contribute to health problems such as headaches, anxiety, and increased blood pressure. Longer commutes require workers to consume more fuel which is both expensive for workers and damaging to the environment.

This indicator shows the average daily travel time to work in minutes for workers 16 years of age and older.


Commute Times in Washoe County

The average commuter in Washoe county spends 22.1 minutes on average.
The average commuter has an average commute time compared to other Nevada counties and a shorter commute compared to other U.S. counties.
Line graph showing the average travel time from 2009 to 2019.
Map of residents and their average commute time.


Access to affordable and reliable modes of transportation, plus alternative and active transit, indicates an effective transportation system with diverse options critical to our economy, traffic congestion, and environment.

The 2035 Regional Transportation Plan set a 10% performance target for alternative mode share use by 2035 in the transit service area. The previous 2030 plan set non-auto mode split goals of 3% by 2012; 4% by 2020; and 6% by 2030. In the future, it would be interesting to identify the percentage of residents who live within 1/4 mile of an RTC public transportation bus stop and ride the bus to work, since 78% of workers over 16 years and older drove to work alone in 2018.

This indicator looks at the types of transportation used to get to work in Washoe County.

Ways We Commute to Work


Access to parks and playgrounds provides opportunities for outside activities, play opportunities, and healthy living during all seasons.


Parks and recreation have three values that make them essential services to communities:

1. Economic value

2. Health and environmental benefits

3. Social importance


Just as water, sewer, and public safety are considered essential public services, parks are vitally important to establishing and maintaining the quality of life in a community, ensuring the health of families and youth, and contributing to the economic and environmental well-being of a community and a region. There are no communities that pride themselves on their quality of life, promote themselves as a desirable location for businesses to relocate, or maintain that they are environmental stewards of their natural resources without having a robust, active system of parks and recreation programs for public use and enjoyment.

The number of parks has remained relatively constant for the last 20+ years, despite the fact that our regional population has grown tremendously. By not adding more park acreage we are losing ground on this important community resource. In fact, according to the National Recreation and Park Association, Washoe County should have 210 based on our population, more than double our current number.

This indicator shows the number of parks and playgrounds, including major/regional parks, community/neighborhood parks, and playgrounds in Washoe County.

Park Number

Number of Parks in Cities of Reno & Spark  and Washoe County

Washoe county has 94 parks and playgrounds as of 2021.
The number of parks and playgrounds has not changed since it's last survey.
Line graph of the number of parks and playgrounds in Washoe county, showing that we had the greatest number of parks and playgrounds in 2009 (101).
Bar graph of the number of community/neighborhood parks, major/regional parks, and playgrounds in Washoe county.


A lack of access to healthy foods is a significant barrier to healthy eating habits. Low-income and underserved areas often have limited numbers of stores that sell healthy foods. People living farther away from grocery stores are less likely to have access to healthy food options on a regular basis and thus more likely to consume foods which are readily available at convenience stores and fast food outlets. Food insecurity, defined as limited availability or uncertain ability to access nutritionally adequate foods, is associated with chronic health problems including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, obesity, and mental health issues including major depression.

The food environment index combines two measures of food access: the percentage of the population that is low-income and has low access to a grocery store, and the percentage of the population that did not have access to a reliable source of food during the past year (food insecurity). The index ranges from 0 (worst) to 10 (best) and equally weights the two measures.

Food Equity

Food Equity

Washoe county ranks 7.9 in regards to food equity in the state of Nevada.
This ranking is good compared to other Nevada and U.S. counties.
Line graph showing the Food Environment Index over time, from 2015 to 2021.
Key Takeaways

Overall, much of the data and research typically published to help determine this report were unavailable or not updated in 2020. So much of the world's energy went into tracking, surviving, and recovering from COVID-19 that significant reports and research projects were set aside. Despite the challenges, this preparation for this report uncovered several key takeaways.

  • The average commute time for those living in Washoe County is 22 minutes each way, gradually increasing since 2009. It is still less than most U.S. counties and more than most counties in Nevada. Over 75% of those commuting are driving alone, so other modes of commuting and carpooling have the potential for growth.

  • The number of parks in Washoe County remains in the 90s, with slight variation since 2011. This is consistent with the data shown on the natural environment quality of life indicator that shows a decrease in acreage for parks and open space. There has been an increase in urban development with little development of additional parks and open space.

  • Food access in Washoe County is relatively high compared to other metrics of health and poverty in this report. Washoe County received a 7.9 for food access on an index where 0 is the worst and 10 is the best. There has been an increase from 2015 to 2019 in the number of individuals living in poverty with some access to a grocery store and/or reliable food store.

  • While cargo transportation in 2020 remained steady, passenger travel decreased dramatically due to Covid-19.

Washoe County is experiencing rapid growth, and it is essential to use this data and national models to inform and improve aspects of urban development. People and industries are drawn to this region because of the quality of life here in the Truckee Meadows area. Therefore, we will need to continue to find a positive balance between land use, innovative infrastructure, and sustainability. 

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