Las Vegas Sun

August 22, 2014

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City government:

Council appears poised to toughen Las Vegas ‘party house’ regulations

Stavros Anthony

Stavros Anthony

Lois Tarkanian

Lois Tarkanian

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.”

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  1. And you thought HOAs were bad?!?

    I'm sorry, this tramples all over what it means to be free and be a property owner.

    I'm not saying that it is okay for a group of people to rent a home and then create a problem for the neighborhood, but I am saying that should such occur that is a matter for neighbors to deal with by calling the police.

    The government has no right *whatsoever* to restrict a property owner from making money by renting out a house for a week or two for special events in town.

  2. boftx.

    Honest question for you.

    Your neighbor rents out his house for the weekend. 100 people show up and have a party. Loud, drinking but they are not on YOUR property.

    You call the police.
    What are the police to do?
    What law have the people holding the party broken?

    As long as they don't make to much noise after 10 p.m. what can the police legally do?

  3. vegaslee,

    That is my point, if laws are not being broken, then I don't believe the government should be able to step in like this and create a new one to be broken that chips away even further at individual rights.

    If damage is done to my property, then I can seek redress from the other property owner, that is how our system is supposed to work.

  4. I was just wondering because you stated that neighbors should deal with it by calling the police. I was trying to figure out what the police could do.

    "Neighborhoods" should not be used as rentals for parties, that is a "business" and there is a reason we have different zoning. So people in neighborhoods can enjoy their home without a party business being next door. I believe that is what the city/county is trying to work out without stepping on to many toes.

  5. "I am saying that should such (a problem) occur that is a matter for neighbors to deal with by calling the police." - @BOFTX

    "The government has no right *whatsoever* to restrict a property owner from making money by renting out a house for a week or two for special events in town." - @BOFTX

    Sorry, I have to really disagree - First off, these are not houses being rented out once or twice a year, but being rented 52 weekends of the year. The government does (and should) have the right to restrict such activity in a RESIDENTIAL location; there is, after all, the expectation of "quiet enjoyment" for adjacent property owners and since metro refuses to "keep the peace" as it were, this is where I'd surly bring in the entire neighborhood to the city/county regulator meetings and asking for some action.

    I for one, do not want party-types leaving trash and empty bottles/cans all over the streets, or making loud sounds at night, or drinking/drunk driving in my neighborhood... my little boy (and other kids) are out at play.

    The problem here is a matter of venue: it's just not proper to locate a full time commercial party house in a residential community.

  6. Test_Guy,

    There may be grounds for a compromise position if one accepts that the property owner must take responsibility for the results of their actions.

  7. Essentially, in a city that attracts nearly 40 million a year, we are banning vacation rentals in order to control party rentals. Baby, bathwater. Most places I visit utilize vacation home rental permits; this is a common practice. Las Vegas needs to step up and create a permit that is enforceable and yet protects neighbors from disruption, not just turn its back and disallow vacation rentals altogether.

  8. @boftx - and therin lies the problem.... absent property owners or owners who are corporations are very, very, very (did I say very?) hard to contact, let alone to bring into compliance.

    And I agree that there should, in theory, be a way to have the cake and eat it too...

    Actually, I like James Reza's idea/post. Vacation v/s Party permits...

    Maybe the City/county should hire on a night shift enforcement person... if enforcement gets called to a "party" w/noise, drunks, etc., then that house gets a fine... second time around, a fine and revocation of permits for 6 months, 3rd strike - you are out of business...

    Sounds like a good compromise to me....

    Cheers