Las Vegas Sun

September 1, 2014

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Joe Downtown: Complaints spur effort to change code on building retrofits

A Las Vegas councilman wants to change a city code that forces developers to spend thousands to retrofit older buildings with energy-saving measures such as window glazing and insulation on cinder-block walls.

Councilman Bob Beers has spent months working with city staff on the changes, he said, because he’s received so many complaints from small-business operators, many of them downtown. He added that the city’s energy code, adopted in 2011, doesn’t always comport with “common sense.”

“These codes are rewritten every three years and don’t really get much of a hearing from legislatures or city councils … so we often don’t understand what we’ve adopted until after staff has time to work with it,” Beers said.

As an example, he said merchants in the relatively new Tivoli Village, 440 S. Rampart Blvd., expected to installed glazed windows. But the new code also required the windows to be tinted.

Not only does window tinting hinder views of a store’s merchandise, he said, but it blocks sunlight. “Some of these places never get sunshine, but the code says do it this way – even if it defies common sense.”

Another result of the code, Beers said, is a requirement for people with cinder block buildings to install 6 inches of insulation, which he said reduces the square footage of a building and can be costly.

“The first half of our first 100 years, everything was built from cinder blocks,” he added. “The way this code requires treatment is just unconscionable and is very clearly holding up business.”

The code change will be introduced at Wednesday's City Council meeting, with discussion to be at later meetings.

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown, he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.

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