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April 16, 2014

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J. Patrick Coolican:

Clark County Commission shows its busybody side with party house ordinance and Strip pet ban

J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican

The Clark County Commission has shown it’s not kidding around with its “party house” ordinance, while also bolstering its tough-on-crime bona fides by curtailing pets on the Strip. Now, it’s time to get serious and take on the real scourge of Las Vegas: public dances.

As the Rev. Shaw Moore says in “Footloose”: “Besides the liquor and the drugs, which always seem to accompany such an event, the thing that distresses me even more ... is the spiritual corruption that can be involved.”

Indeed, have you seen how the girls react to this degenerate Elvis Presley?

Sometimes with the dancing, their skirts will rise to reveal their bare knees.

And of course, once we stop the public dances, we’ll need to go straight to the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign and add an addendum that Kevin Bacon is most certainly not welcome here. No sirree. Especially if he wants to rent a house for fewer than 30 days.

Yes, this week the Clark County Commission, whose members apparently have no hobbies, has shown its full-on busybody side and debased itself in the process.

I don’t know why anyone would bring a pet to the Strip, but I also don’t know why this is worth legislating.

Dogs on the Strip

A panhandler, right, packs up to leave after soliciting money with a dog on a pedestrian overpass near Planet Hollywood Friday, Dec. 30, 2011. A proposed county ordinance would ban the use of dogs and other animals by people soliciting money on the Strip. Launch slideshow »

An out-of-control pet or a pet suffering abuse is the same on the Strip as anywhere else, and I don’t get why animal control can’t merely enforce existing ordinances there.

More appalling is the “party house” ordinance passed in 2010. The rule prevents you from renting your house for fewer than 30 days.

Apparently, people were renting their houses and then renters were throwing parties. Huge problem. Just huge.

My colleague Joe Schoenmann reported that the ordinance faced its “first real test,” which led to a $29,000 penalty for a homeowner in ritzy Spanish Palms.

Property rights aren’t absolute. You can’t start a landfill in your back yard. But the right to rent your property out for a week seems pretty much in line with legitimate property rights of an Anglo tradition that is, oh, 1,000 years old or so.

(An alternate solution to the party house problem: Call the cops. Get some earplugs. Or let’s get sophisticated: Mandate a lease that restricts loud parties.)

Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who backed the ordinance as part of his valiant, ongoing effort to appear in the local media every single day, got tough with the homeowner.

“Just because you admit it doesn’t make it right,” said Sisolak, played in the movie by John Lithgow. (“If our Lord wasn’t testing us, how would you account for the proliferation, these days, of this obscene rock and roll music, with its gospel of easy sexuality and relaxed morality?”)

I want to see Sisolak on horseback riding up with Metro as it breaks down the door at a party house. “Men: These are the times that try men’s souls!”

I don’t know if other cities ban renting for fewer than 30 days, and the issue isn’t important enough for me to find out, but a cursory review of online classified site Craigslist shows that I can get a one-bedroom for the week in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City for $900. A week in a nice furnished place in Venice Beach will run me $1,600.

Here in Vegas, though, it’s illegal.

One more thing: If I can’t rent a house for a week, who do you suppose benefits? Perhaps people who are allowed to rent out beds and bathrooms for short-term stays, like, say, casino hotels?

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  1. Excuse me, Mr. Williams, but we only elected Bush once.

  2. "Property rights aren't absolute. You can't start a landfill in your back yard. But the right to rent your property out for a week seems pretty much in line with legitimate property rights of an Anglo tradition that is, oh, 1,000 years old or so."

    Coolican -- probably longer. Property rights are as old as mankind's first governments.

    I would divert you to Nevada's Constitution, something every government body and its officers blatantly ignore when it doesn't suit them. Anyone can can have a look online @ http://www.leg.state.nv.us/Const/NVConst...

    Consider how it leads off with "Ordinance" -- "Second. That perfect toleration of religious sentiment shall be secured, and no inhabitant of said state shall ever be molested, in person or property, on account of his or her mode of religious worship." What if the party was a Bacchanalia? Or pagans having an orgy to usher in the summer solstice? Constitutionally it seems their neighbors just have to put with it.

    Then there's Article 1, Section 1's "Inalienable rights. All men are by Nature free and equal and have certain inalienable rights among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; Acquiring, Possessing and Protecting property and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness[.]"

    Since all Nevada government entities get their authority only in compliance with that Constitution, that brings into question the general competence of our leaders. Even at a county level.Except the part waiting to be excised, Article 1, Section 21, our recent evidence of bigoted religious mania.

    All the rest is just every politician's and bureaucrat's constant quest for relevance = job security. And the herd worse then lets them -- it elects them.

    "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." -- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac H Tiffany (1819)

  3. <<Excuse me, Mr. Williams, but we only elected Bush once>>

    I didn't realize a presidential term was for 8 years.

  4. Be careful Coolican, your Rand is showing again.

  5. Coolican: as to the "party house" ordinance, the County has made some kind of deal with the owners which licenses the activity because it is only fining them for the days outside of the deal. So is this just holding the terror of massive fines over everyone's heads to get them to pay license fees or is this a real regulation of these kinds of establishments for the protection of the safety, health, and morals of the public? If the latter, then they are Constitutionally entitled to regulate because the "police power" is reserved to the States under the federal Constitution and the Nevada Constitution also allows exercise of power for the "protection, security, and benefit of the people."

  6. Maybe they meant to prohibit "prostitutes" on the Strip but instead wrote "pets."

  7. Last time I checked - a distracting late night party meant a quick call to police. If you even think of arguing that a police call distracts officers from focusing on more serious crime - then I ask you - how will you find out if a house is being rented other than calling law enforcement?

    People who come out to Vegas and rent a home for less than 30 days don't rent the property to "party" at the rented residence - I'm pretty sure the night scene on the Strip is more appealing?

    I find it ironic that this guy is bent on strong arming this outrageous fine on this homeowner - all while claiming that he was being extorted by his former girlfriend's representatives with legal fictions.

    This is just another example of politicians abusing their authority and allowing Government to interfere in your right to enter agreements and enjoy the rights of your real property.

  8. or Det_Munch, he may be referring to the shenannigans that occured in Florida and that Gore received more votes than Bush the first go round.

  9. The Star-Spangled Banner is going to sound really strange if we have to remove "land of the free" from the end of it.

  10. Wish Las Vegas had the same law. Besides operating a commerical business in a residential neighborhood, most are likely paying no room tax or have a business license.

  11. Patrick, you're exactly right about this. When I was growing up in Boulder City in the late 40's and early 50's, the Chamber of Commerce would often call out to the community to host tourists in their homes. This gave many families additional income, allowed people to meet, and made it possible for visitors to pay a reasonable rate for accommodations. Now, rather than figure out how to bring more tourists to Las Vegas, the hotels go to the County Commission to make something that is useful and valuable illegal and to turn homeowners into criminals.

    Other cities have bed and breakfast homes and other forms of short term rentals. Obviously the County prefers vacant and foreclosed homes, homelessness, welfare payments, fines to fill County coffers and campaign contributions for Commissioners (all destructive to society) rather than multiple benefits for homeowners and tourists alike.

    This is part of a disturbing trend of favoring hotels and public employees and criminalizing citizens. Excessive noise (from dogs to parties) is at least as likely to occur whether a house is rented for one day, 31 days, 10 years or whether it is occupied by its owners. The solution for the problem should be the same for all--a request from the neighbors or, at most, a warning from the police.

    People who support draconian solutions to simple problems like this should be aware that this is only one of thousands of ways that the County can impose $1000 per day penalties on its lowly subjects--starting with grass which is unkempt (not watered or more than 4 inches high). I would bet that every home (even new homes) in Clark County could be subject to at least 5 of these new fines issued by the Commission during the past 2 years alone! In its predictably selective manner of prosecution, it decided to pick one of the ordinances that solely benefits the hotels and Commissioners' reelection campaigns. Ed Uehling

  12. We are running out of water and being raked over the coals by the water and power company and all they can do is this?

    Is there a little Chinatown story here is Vegas today perhaps?