Carson City, Nevada

The state capital of Nevada, it is located at the base of the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada moun­tains 30 miles south of Reno, Nevada and 14 miles west of Lake Tahoe.  The City is bisected by U.S. Highway 395 (Carson Street), the main north-south thoroughfare through Nevada on the western side of the State and by U.S. Highway 50, which connects the Lake Tahoe area to Carson City and eastern Nevada.

Carson City has an estimated population of 40,443+ people as of July, 1990 census.  The 1980 census population was 32,022 for a 2.63% average annual increase since then.  The yearly increases for 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1990 were 1.7%, 2.2%, 2.5% and 2.9%, respectively, indicating the City is growing at a moderate but healthy rate.  Many residents in Carson City commute to the Reno area as it is within an easy 30-minute drive from Carson City.  North Douglas County and west Lyon County serve as bedroom com­munities to Carson City.

The major bases of the economy in Carson City in approximate order of magnitude are:  government em­ployment (34%), tourist related and gaming businesses (21.2%), wholesale retail (18.3%), manufacturing (15.8%), construction (4.9%), finance, insurance, and real estate (3.3%).  Government, although not normally considered to be an economic base, is considered as such for Carson City because most of the salaries of government workers represent new money for the City.

The community actively recruits smaller non-polluting industries and has attracted several companies into the area from the high tech electronic field.  The larger firms in order of employment are United Engine (350+), and Mallory Electric (230+).

Retail sales have increased over the past decade.  Carson City's retail sales have slumped along with the rest of the nation and Nevada.  Nevada's retail sales were up 3.0%.  The recent opening of Wal-Mart and Supply One Stores has helped Carson City's sales.

It is estimated presently that Carson City is a shopping hub for approximately 80,000 people.  This includes Carson City and the rapidly developing areas of north Douglas County and west Lyon County which serve as bedroom communities to Carson City.  Wal-Mart Stores opened their new 115,000+ square foot store at the south end of town in July, 1991 and Supply One opened a large retail outlet on South Carson Street in December, 1991.  K-Mart has recently developed a large shopping facility at the north end of Carson City.  As the Carson City commercial and retail areas grow, less reliance will be put on shopping in Reno and this, in turn, would keep many of the sales dollars in Carson City.

Gaming provides approximately 60% of the annual budget revenues for State agencies in Nevada.  In Carson City, there are three large casinos, the Carson Nugget, the Ormsby House (recently reopened after being closed due to bankruptcy proceedings) and the Carson Station. 

Construction activity increased dramatically in the past decade.  Subsequently, new housing permits have increased.  The commercial and industrial sectors are the strong areas.  The general growth in all sectors of Carson City and the boom in the north Douglas County, west Lyon County, and Reno areas has prompted new commer­cial construction. 

Because of the rapid expansion during the middle to late 1970's, the sewer and water facilities for Carson City were taxed and in 1978, the City instituted a growth management ordinance.  The growth manage­ment ordinance was primarily designed to limit new residential construction to a maximum of 3% per year of existing residential units. The growth ordinance allows a maximum of 25 entitlements to a developer for the first 4 months, then 12 more within the next 4 months, if available, and then first-come-first-serve after that.  The general category which includes owner/builder and small builders limits each user to five units the first 4 month, two the next 4 months and then first-come-first-serve after that.  Commercial development not requiring heavy sewage treatment use is not restricted by the growth management policy.

At the same time the growth ordinance was approved, the State Department of Water Resources stopped approving new subdivisions in Carson City.  They felt the area's water resources were already over-allocated.  The City, however, bypassed the State requirements by using parcel maps which did not require State approval.  A tentative map was approved by the City for a subdivision, then only four lots are recorded at one time.  However, in January, 1990, the State changed its policy and once again is approving subdi­visions.

The uncertainty of obtaining permits and the limited number available to a single developer kept large developers of residential subdivisions out of the area and discouraged lot development.  All this created a short supply of developed lots, especially on the west side of Carson City.  The City is currently pursuing new water with the drilling of more wells; it has upgraded the water storage and distribution system; and it has hired a full-time water resources manager.  In September, 1990, the City approved the purchase of 926.5 acre feet of water from Kings Canyon from a pri­vate owner.  Including this new purchase, the City now has 13,024 acre feet of water with 11,730 acre feet usable.  Current usage is approximately 9,136 acre feet.  The projected use is 11,921 acre feet by the year 2000.  With new water, the City's water needs are expected to be met under the 3% growth management ordinance until the year 2010.

There is adequate sewer and water available for development and considerable residential, commercial and industrial land available for development in Carson City.  The outlying areas which rely on Carson City for shopping should continue to keep retail sales strong and result in good demand for retail and commercial land.

The community growth has had a positive impact on users and buyers of single family and multi-residential properties.  Much of the residential demand is created from outside of Carson City from the relocation of businesses to Carson City.  In effect, the national economy and business climate of the area, including relatively low taxes and land values, appear to be the driving forces for small manufacturing companies to come to Nevada.  These favorable factors should continue and help to create a demand for not only industrial/commercial properties, but for residential properties necessary for employee housing.