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May 23, 2015

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Ordinance that could move Las Vegas pawnshops around put on hold until January

An ordinance allowing pawnshops to open along Las Vegas Boulevard between Sahara and Charleston avenues met resistance Tuesday morning from a Las Vegas City Council committee and was delayed for more than a month to allow staff time to tweak the bill.

The change, proposed by Mayor Carolyn Goodman, would allow jewelry stores, pawnshops and secondhand dealers to open in a part of the city where they are currently prohibited.

Goodman thinks the new ordinance will allow businesses to expand, filling vacant spaces along the corridor and hiring more employees.

“My sense is we have a blighted commercial sector,” Goodman said. “(Pawnshops) would become an attractive piece filling up empty space.”

Because the city only issues a fixed number of pawnshop licenses, the new ordinance would not increase the number of pawnshops in the city.

City Councilman Bob Coffin and Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, who together led Wednesday’s recommending committee, expressed concerns about the bill and the potential it has to affect residents.

There was also an indication that the ordinance was prompted in part by a dispute involving an existing pawnshop located downtown that lies in the path of a major potential redevelopment project.

Ace Loan, 215 N. 3rd St., sits adjacent to the Lady Luck, which has been targeted for a $100 million facelift. It will be reborn as Downtown Grand and become an anchor for further development in the area.

Ace Loan’s owner, Howard Bock, would like to move the pawnshop to a building he already owns at 519 E. St. Louis Ave., but he is prohibited from doing so by city code, because the shop would sit too close to residential areas and another nearby pawnshop.

Goodman indicated she hopes that opening more spaces for pawnshops could entice Super Pawn, which is adjacent to the proposed site of Ace Loan, to move, thus resolving the issue.

Tarkanian said she had reservations about overturning pawnshop restrictions to solve a dispute elsewhere.

“I have a concern about changing a rule this strong," she said. "Just on the basis of an individual who’s having some difficulty."

Coffin said the ordinance is not quite ready and suggested setting it aside to allow for more discussion.

A new hearing was set for the bill on Jan. 31, where the recommending committee will decide whether to forward it along to the full city council for a vote.

One resident spoke out at Tuesday’s meeting, telling city leaders that he and his neighbors don’t want pawnshops in their neighborhood.

“I’m strongly opposed to overturning the ban. There are already plenty of pawnshops just north of Charleston,” resident Hart Fleischhauer said. “Who is this going to benefit?”

Goodman said she wouldn’t want a pawnshop in her neighborhood but said she thinks they fit in with the other businesses along the targeted stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard, which includes tattoo parlors, massage parlors and strip clubs.

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