Las Vegas Sun

August 29, 2014

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County commissioners skeptical about allowing short-term home rentals

A proposal by Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins to reconsider the county’s ban on short-term home rentals in favor of a system that allows and regulates “vacation rentals” was met with skepticism by fellow commissioners Wednesday.

The issue: Residential home rentals of less than a month are banned in unincorporated parts of the county to prevent the nuisance and disruption they can cause in neighborhoods. Despite the efforts of county enforcement staffs, short-term rentals have proliferated across the valley, and Collins thinks it’s time to consider other options.

The vote: No vote was taken. Staff was advised to work with stakeholders to craft an ordinance to be considered by the commission at a later date.

What it means: The county will reconsider its ban on short-term rentals, but don’t expect any changes soon.

Collins argued that the county’s outright ban was ineffective and that by instead allowing and regulating short-term rentals, the county could have better oversight while generating added licensing revenue.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity to look at boundaries and conditions,” Collins said. “If there are hundreds of homes in Clark County that are doing this now, we need to recognize it. We can’t just turn our back on it.”

Vacation rentals are common in destination cities, including Las Vegas and Henderson, and they provide a valuable alternative for families or large groups who don’t want to stay in a hotel, attorney Jay Brown said.

“It’s not something that we’re doing here that’s unusual. In fact, I think it’s unusual that Clark County doesn’t have it,” said Brown, who represents a group of homeowners and property managers supporting the change.

Brown said a potential ordinance would require homeowners to register with the county and pay a fee before offering short-term rentals. The county would be notified anytime that home was rented out, allowing enforcement officers to check in, if needed, he said.

“If there’s a problem at that address, the person who has the license at the very least would be fined,” he said. “We’re going to have strong regulations where if it happens a second time, they lose their license.”

But commissioners expressed reluctance to change the ordinance because of the negative impact short-term rentals can have on neighborhoods.

Residents complain of “party houses” that host noisy groups of revelers who play music late into the night and leave piles of garbage on the curb when they depart at the end of the weekend.

Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said she had “grave concerns” about allowing short-term rentals.

“I’ve had problems in my neighborhood, as well as constituents who’ve called about that,” said Giunchigliani, who lives in Las Vegas, where short-term rentals are allowed. “You have to be careful about what you choose to regulate...Once you regulate them you also legitimize them.”

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