Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012 | 1:25 p.m.
Four years after enacting a “party-house” ordinance meant to gain some control over homes in residential areas turned over to noisy, short-term renters, the Las Vegas City Council appears close to stiffening the law.
The city’s current law requires homeowners who want to rent out their homes for fewer than 31 days to get a license. But after hearing a report about existing problems at some of those homes, council members talked about completely banning the rentals, adding fines or adding more city employees to enforce the law.
City Planning Manager Flinn Fagg reported that 119 licenses had been issued since 2008 resulting in $16,700 in fees. Active licenses number 37. In those four years, code enforcement staff opened 30 cases and made 400 inspection visits. The most common complaints made were noise/disruption, unlicensed properties and parking.
Among the problems with the current system is that many of the rented homes do not get the licenses, and code enforcers don’t work a lot on weekends when most complaints are made.
“Code enforcement is available during the day, not evening,” Fagg said. “And licensing compliance (personnel) are available every other weekend, but only to a certain hour in the evening.”
Metro Police help, he added, but these types of complaints are low priorities for Metro.
Fagg gave the council three options to consider, though members were not scheduled to take action: leave the code as is; ban short-term rentals; or adopt limits on occupancy numbers, vehicles, noise and set up procedures to revoke licenses.
In addition, Fagg said, the city could adopt a system of civil penalties – fines – for those found in violation of the code.
Clark County adopted a so-called party house ordinance in 2010. It allows for civil penalties of $1,000 for every day the homeowner is found to be violating a remediation plan developed by the owner and the county. In March, the County Commission affirmed a $29,000 fine for a home in the Spanish Palms neighborhood.
“We need to stiffen (the code),” said Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian. “We need to look at not only strengthening the ordinance but if we are to have civil penalties. That really hamstrings us.”
Saying he wouldn’t tolerate a party house in his cul de sac, Councilman Stavros Anthony wondered if some neighborhoods were more appropriate for such rentals than others.
Fagg replied, “That’s hard to say … because you do have people (coming in) on the weekend. It does change the life of residential life in that neighborhood. So we have to be careful about how it impacts everyone.”
Mayor Carolyn Goodman said she wanted Fagg to return with more information, that she didn’t like an “overbearing” government but was concerned about “where are the (legal) lines we should not be crossing.”