The Wilbur D. May Museum at Rancho San Rafael has a wide range of historic artifacts
The Wilbur D. May Museum at Rancho San Rafael has a wide range of historic artifacts
County Home => Planning and Development => FAQs: Planning and Development

Community Services Department
Planning and Development Division
Frequently Asked Questions

Information on licensing a medical marijuana establishment in unincorporated Washoe County is provided online by the Washoe County business license division. Click here to get more information.
Yes, if there is an established (or soon to be established) agricultural use and the structure is a minimum of 100 feet from ANY property line. A certificate from you must be submitted with your building permit application attesting to one of the following:

1. That agricultural uses are currently on the property, together with a description of those uses, and verifying that the agricultural buildings will be used principally to store agricultural equipment and/or products related to the agricultural use; and/or

2. That livestock either currently lives on the property or will live on the property within 90 days from the final approval date for building permits issued for the agricultural building(s), and verifying that the principal use of the agricultural building(s) will be shelter for the livestock.
Maybe. If your property is 12,000 square feet in size or greater, you may apply for a special use permit (or on larger parcels, an administrative review) for a separate dwelling unit with certain size restrictions. In nearly all cases, you may be able to add an attached apartment up to 40% the size of the main dwelling.

For more information, see Division Three - Regulation of Uses, Article 306, Accessory Uses and Structures, of the Washoe County Development Code. To go to the Development Code home page, click here.
No. You must construct a primary dwelling in order to construct an accessory building. However, if you have a building permit for the home, you may then obtain a building permit for the shed or garage and build that structure first.
Maybe. This is dependent on your land use (zoning), the size of your property, the availability of community sewer and water, whether you have access to water rights, and a variety of other requirements. You will need to hire a professional land surveyor before you apply, but first, call our Planning and Development Information Counter at 775.328.6100 and talk to a planner who will help you determine if you can divide your property.

For more information, see Division Six - Subdivision Regulation, Article 606, Parcel Maps, of the Washoe County Development Code. To go to the Development Code home page, click here.
No, unless there is an established (or soon to be established) agricultural use and the structure is a minimum of 100 feet from ANY property line, in which case you may construct a second floor. In such cases, the use of the second floor is limited to the storage of feed, hay, agricultural tools or equipment, an office for the agricultural business, or other items related to the agricultural use of the property. Uses not allowed include recreation rooms, dens, bedrooms, kitchens, and hobby or craft workspace. The number of plumbing fixture units is limited to 2. Fixture units include sinks, toilets, showers or tubs.
Yes. However, you must have an issued building permit for the home and you must remove the trailer/mobile home within 18 months (or 36 months with an extension). A financial assurance for the removal of the unit is required.
Maybe. Depending upon your property and the CC&Rs recorded on your lot, you may be able to bring a factory built home onto your property. Both the age, size and standards of the construction of the unit are factors. In certain circumstances, a garage must be constructed prior to occupancy of the unit. Special requirements are listed in the Manufactured Home Checklist available on the Planning and Development Division website under "applications" or at the division's front counter.

Most residential areas in the County are limited to a 35-foot height standard. However, that may vary. In certain areas, the height is restricted to 2 stories and, in the Tahoe Basin, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency height is the standard, which may be significantly higher than 35 feet depending on topography.

A detached garage may be the same height as the home. However, a detached garage under 12 feet in height at the mid-point of the roof may qualify for a reduced setback. Call our Development Information Counter at 775.328.6100 and speak to a planner about the height standard for your area.
State law and Washoe County Code permits up to 6 unrelated persons and 2 caregivers to live in any home. So... aunt, cousins, grandparents, sons, daughter-in-laws, and extended families that are related are permitted. The relationships are limitless and the answer is extremely complex.
The number of plumbing fixture units is limited to 2. Fixture units include sinks, toilets, showers or tubs.
On interior lots, you can generally build a fence 4.5 feet in the front yard and 6 feet on the rest of the property. Corner lots are further restricted and the sight visibility triangle of the driveway and a corner is limited to 18 inches.
Yes. Regardless of the use of the structure, if it was legal when constructed, you can rebuild it within 12 months.

For more information, see Division Nine - General Provisions, Article 904, Nonconformance, of the Washoe County Development Code. To go to the Development Code home page, click here.
Each parcel has a land use designation (zoning), and the setbacks vary according to that designation. General setback information is defined by land use designation in Table 110.406.05.1, Standards, in the Development Code.

For more information, see Division Four - Development Standards, Article 406, Building Placement Standards, of the Washoe County Development Code. To go to the Development Code home page, click here.

However, there are many additional factors that come into play, such as if there are access easements on the lot, the shape of your lot, and the like. Call our Development Information Counter at 775.328.6100 and speak to a planner for specific setback information for your property.
The minimum standards for both parking and landscaping depend on the use of the building, the size of the building, and the developed portion of the lot. Parking and landscape requirements are defined in Division Four - Development Standards, of the Development Code. Refer to Article 410 - Parking and Loading, and Article 412, Landscaping.

To go to the Development Code home page, click here.
Each parcel has a land use designation that limits the uses on the property and the standards for development. These uses and standards are defined in the Development Code by land use designation. You may find your parcel`s land use designation by accessing Map Warehouse on the County`s website. Please keep in mind that the Map Warehouse provides land use (zoning) information for unincorporated Washoe County only. If your property is within the Cities of Reno or Sparks, you will need to contact either the Reno or Sparks Community Development Department to obtain your zoning information.

To get to Map Warehouse, click on this link and choose "Map Warehouse." When the disclaimer comes up, scroll down and click "I Agree." The "Main" tab should be active, if it isn`t, choose "Main." Choose "Land Use" from the list. Under "Step 1. I am interested in:" click the dropdown arrow next to "Select One" and choose "Washoe County Planned Land Use."

If you wish to search by the parcel number, under "Step 2. I would like to search by:" choose "Parcel Number." Under "Last Step. The parcel number without spaces or dashes is" type the parcel number without any spaces or dashes, then click on "Search!" Your parcel should be highlighted on the map.

If you wish to search by the address, under "Step 2. I would like to search by:" choose "Address." Under "Last Step. The address is" enter the Street Number and Street Name, and the Prefix (North, South, East, West) if there is one, then click on "Search!" Your parcel should be highlighted on the map.

If the "Data" tab is selected, there should be a table below the map display. If the "Data" tab is not selected, click on the "Data" tab to bring up the table.

The third column in the table is labeled "Planned Land Use." Your land use designation (zoning) will be identified in this column.

To determine what uses are allowed on your property, refer to the Table of Uses in Division Three, Article 302, Allowed Uses, of the Washoe County Development Code. To go to the Development Code home page, click here.
A Significant Hydrologic Resource is a creek or stream shown on an adopted SHR map in the Washoe County Development Code. The Washoe County Stream Advisory Committee was established by the Board of County Commission (BCC) and began meeting in January 1998. The idea originated with the Mr. Rose/Geiger Grade Citizen Advisory Board. (A Citizen Advisory Board is a neighborhood board with members appointed by the BCC to provide advice and recommendations on issues and proposals in the county.) The Stream Advisory Committee included members with technical expertise who were citizen, developer, water quality, wildlife and public health interest stakeholders.

By 1998, many of the streams in Washoe County were diverted and channeled to provide water for agriculture, without regard to stream structure and condition. Due to damage and deterioration of the stream environments, and the lack of consideration of the critical role streams play in preserving the quality of Washoe County`s natural environment, the Stream Advisory Committee believed it was important to maintain the natural vegetation along the streams to stabilize banks and maintain the ecological system. It was understood that confinement by concrete channeling or placement of rip rap prevents the natural processes that produce thriving plant and animal life.

After more than two years of work of the Stream Advisory Committee, Washoe County staff presented a proposed Development Code Amendment to the Washoe County Planning Commission and, subsequently, to the Board of County Commission. The proposed amendment was reviewed by Citizen Advisory Boards, developers, contractors and technical experts. Finally, on February 15, 2001, the amendment was adopted as Washoe County Code. The amendment provided protection of property from flooding, reduced land development impacts on stream water quality and flows, and provided wildlife mitigation corridors while, at the same time, scrutinized the implications to all parties including whether the ordinance was unfairly burdensome on the property owner or whether the ordinance eliminated all reasonable use of the property.
The 60,000 parcels in Washoe County are divided into 18 different zoning (land use designation) categories. You may find your parcel`s land use by accessing Map Warehouse on the County`s website. Please keep in mind that the Map Warehouse provides land use (zoning) information for unincorporated Washoe County only. If your property is within the Cities of Reno or Sparks, you will need to contact either the Reno or Sparks Community Development Department to obtain your zoning information.

To get to Map Warehouse, click on this link and choose "Map Warehouse." When the disclaimer comes up, scroll down and click "I Agree." The "Main" tab should be active, if it isn`t, choose "Main." Choose "Land Use" from the list. Under "Step 1. I am interested in:" click the dropdown arrow next to "Select One" and choose "Washoe County Planned Land Use."

If you wish to search by the parcel number, under "Step 2. I would like to search by:" choose "Parcel Number." Under "Last Step. The parcel number without spaces or dashes is" type the parcel number without any spaces or dashes, then click on "Search!" Your parcel should be highlighted on the map.

If you wish to search by the address, under "Step 2. I would like to search by:", choose "Address." Under "Last Step. The address is" enter the Street Number and Street Name, and the Prefix (North, South, East, West) if there is one, then click on "Search!" Your parcel should be highlighted on the map.

If the "Data" tab is selected, there should be a table below the map display. If the "Data" tab is not selected, click on the "Data" tab to bring up the table.

The third column in the table is labeled "Planned Land Use." Your land use designation (zoning) will be identified in this column.
Each of the 18 land use designations and the size of your property are factors in determining the kind and number of animals you can keep on your property. Refer to Division Three - Regulation of Uses, Article 330, Domestic Pets and Livestock, of the Development Code.

To go to the Development Code home page, click here.
A Trailer (TR) Overlay zone represents the pre-1993 zoning of Washoe County which permitted the setup and subsequent use of a mobile home (pre-1974) or a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) manufactured home (post-1973) as a single family residence. Any area that had a trailer overlay continues to permit mobile/manufactured homes.
For properties zoned for single-family residences "outside Trailer (TR) Overlay zoned areas" the following limitations apply:
-The unit must be a manufactured house constructed to the HUD standards.
-The unit must be a minimum 1,200 square feet in size.
-The unit must have multiple sections.
-The unit must be no more than 5 years old at time of placement (placement is defined as date of issuance of site inspection permit).
-There may not be Covenants, Conditions or Restrictions (CC&Rs) on the property that restrict manufactured homes.
-The home must be converted to real property.

For properties zoned "within Trailer (TR) Overlay zoned area" the following limitations apply:
-The unit may be a manufactured house or a mobile home (a unit constructed to neither the UBC nor HUD code, but not a travel trailer).
-The unit may be of any size.
-The unit can be one section or multiple sections.
-The unit can be of any age.
-A mobile home may only be placed on a parcel that had a previous manufactured house or mobile home located on the parcel within the previous 12 months.


For properties within the Sun Valley and High Desert planning areas, the following limitations apply:
-The unit may be a manufactured house or a mobile home (a unit constructed to neither the UBC nor HUD code nor a travel trailer).
-The unit may be of any size.
-The unit can be one section or multiple sections.
-The unit can be of any age.
-Other than required yard setbacks, there is no restriction on the location of a unit in a single-family residential zone.
The State of Nevada Manufactured Housing Division (775.687.4296) regulates foundation requirements. In addition, County Code and state law requires a permanent foundation and subsequently a designation as real property with the Washoe County Assessor`s Office.
The supports must be masked by skirting and/or a perimeter foundation, which must be installed 30 days after the final inspection occurs. The hitch and wheels must be removed and placed out of sight by the time final inspection occurs.
The placement of the unit may not violate Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs); Deed Restrictions; or Negative Covenants that prohibit the placement of the manufactured house within the subdivision within which it is proposed to be located (Washoe County will require an affidavit affirming this at the time of submittal of a setup permit application).
County parking standards must be met. A garage for at least 1 vehicle must be constructed. In areas with a previous Trailer (TR) Overlay, the covered parking space may be a carport if there was a mobile/manufactured home on the property within the last 12 months. In Sun Valley and High Desert, neither a garage nor a carport is required.
No. The final inspection for the home cannot take place prior to the construction of the garage or carport.
Washoe County may issue a permit for a manufactured house that is less than 1,200 square feet in size if any one of the following occurs: -51% of the existing housing within 300 feet of the property boundaries of the property on which the manufactured house will be placed are less than 1,200 square feet in size; -The placement of a 1,200 square foot unit would violate the setbacks for the property on which the manufactured house will be placed; or -The size of the lot on which the manufactured house will be placed is 10 acres or greater in size.

No other provisions may be waived without a variance application reviewed and approved by the Washoe County Board of Adjustment.
A variance application reviewed and approved by the Washoe County Board of Adjustment can vary these provisions.
An Affidavit of Conversion of Mobile Home to Real Property must be completed by the property owner and seller of the unit. The property owner then submits the affidavit and two copies to the Washoe County Recorder`s Office for recordation. As part of this recordation process, two conforming copies of the Conversion Affidavit will be returned to the property owner. The property owner then submits both conforming copies to the Nevada Division of Manufactured Housing with a check for $20. The Nevada Division of Manufactured Housing will issue a conversion certificate and forward it to the Washoe County Assessor`s Office. Upon receipt of the certificate, the Assessor`s Office will commence assessing the manufactured house as real property.
Article 312 (Fabricated Housing) of the Washoe County Development Code contains the specific provisions regulating the location of manufactured housing and mobile homes. Article 314 (Manufactured Home Parks) of the Washoe County Development Code contains the regulations governing mobile home parks (rental spaces).

To get to the Washoe County Development Code home page, click on this link. Choose "division three - regulation of uses" then click on the bookmark for the article you wish to view.
Washoe County permits a manufactured house that is 5 years or less in age to be used as a detached accessory dwelling unit and if it is not prohibited by the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) on the property and provided that it meets the standards enumerated in Article 306 (Accessory Uses and Structures) of the Washoe County Development Code.

To get to the Washoe County Development Code home page, click on this link. Choose "division three - regulation of uses" then click on the bookmark for Article 306.

A detached accessory dwelling unit must be 1,200 square feet in size. In all situations, accessory dwelling units cannot exceed 50 percent of the size of the main dwelling (no variance is permitted to this standard). Therefore, the main dwelling unit must be a minimum of 2,400 square feet. A detached accessory dwelling unit must be established behind or to the side of the main dwelling. A detached accessory dwelling unit must not encroach within required setbacks. Additional enclosed parking is required for the detached accessory dwelling unit. No subdivision of land to create a separate parcel for the accessory detached dwelling unit is permitted. A manufactured house used as a detached accessory dwelling unit must be permanently attached to the property, have the supports masked and be converted to real property.
The Washoe County Development Code is comprised of the following nine divisions:

Division One - Introduction and Organization
Division Two - Area Plan Regulations
Division Three - Regulation of Uses
Division Four - Development Standards
Division Five - Signs
Division Six - Subdivision Regulations
Division Seven - Infrastructure Availability and Financing
Division Eight - Procedures
Division Nine - General Provisions


The Development Code also includes a compilation of current interpretations and an index. The frontpiece contains a summary of both the adoption and revision dates for the Development Code, including the bill and ordinance numbers with a brief summary of each revision. The frontpiece also contains a numerical contents by division and article.
The Washoe County Development Code is contained within the Washoe County Code as Chapter 110. The Development Code, together with related information and applications necessary for development, is available from the Washoe County Community Services Department, Planning and Development Division.

For questions regarding the Development Code, contact Planning and Development at 775.328.6100.

For information on other chapters of the Washoe County Code, including the most recent ordinances, please contact the Office of the County Clerk at 775.328.3084.
The Washoe County Master Plan, as required by state statute, includes countywide elements, area plans, and a number of more detailed plans (e.g. specific plans, community plans, joint plan). The Master Plan is used to determine the most desirable location of each type of development. The plan has policies and maps designated to define development suitability and conserve natural resources (e.g. protect critical environmental areas, define water resources, enhance visual and scenic corridors, etc.). It also includes growth forecasts as well as policies and maps reflecting desires related to land uses and transportation. Finally, the Master Plan has standards and maps to guide provision of public services and facilities. The public services and facilities are implemented through the Capital Improvements Program.

The Master Plan is contained in three volumes. Volume One contains elements that have general applicability throughout the County. Volume Two contains area plans covering each of the County planning areas. Volume Three contains the specific plans, community plans and joint plans contained within the various planning areas.

The Community Services Department, Planning and Development Division is responsible for maintaining and updating the Master Plan in response to changing conditions, legislative direction and new policy direction established by the community.

For questions regarding the Master Plan, contact Planning and Development at 775.328.6100.
Additional information on the proposed sign ordinance update is available online at http://www.washoecounty.us/comdev/hot_topics/signs.htm

For questions regarding Planning and Development Division web pages contact:
Donna Fagan, Office Assistant III
Phone: 775.325.8050
Fax: 775.328.6133
E-mail: dfagan@washoecounty.us