Las Vegas Sun

June 25, 2017

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Committee OKs bill to crack down on short-term rentals in Las Vegas

A three-member committee today approved a bill to tighten restrictions on short-term home rentals in Las Vegas made popular by websites such as Airbnb.

The bill would place restrictions on hundreds of residential homes thought to be skirting a mandated 13 percent city tax paid by other rental properties, officials said.

“That land is zoned residential, not commercial,” said City Council member Lois Tarkanian, who sits on the recommendations committee with Councilmen Bob Coffin and Stavros Anthony.

“We’re trying to protect our neighborhoods,” Tarkanian told nearly 300 people at the meeting at Las Vegas City Hall.

The new regulations, if approved by the Las Vegas City Council on June 7, would require those who intend to rent out their homes to apply for a special-use permit, along with an already-required city business license. The permit would require placards outside short-term rentals with the phone number of a city complaint hotline for neighbors. No additional parking would be allowed, and owners of homes with more than five bedrooms would have to stay with their guests.

To prevent too many short-term rentals in the same neighborhoods, the bill stipulates they must be at least 660 feet apart.

Those speaking in favor of the new regulations argued that investors who bought homes in Las Vegas neighborhoods such as the Scotch 80s and Glen Heather Estates to rent as party houses were bringing chaos to otherwise calm neighborhoods.

Scotch 80s resident John Sailing said as many has 40 people have packed into homes on his street in historic downtown Las Vegas. He said he has found condoms, empty beer cans and underwear in the street.

Three other residents described finding similar items on their property left behind by neighboring short-term renters.

“We’re destroying people who have worked hard and saved up for their homes,” Sailing said. “We don’t need this in our neighborhood. There are plenty of rooms on the Strip.”

Speaking against the bill, Clark County resident Norm Schilling said he bought two homes on the outskirts of downtown Las Vegas six months ago to use as short-term rentals. The investment was also designed to revitalize an area marked by empty houses and squatters, he said.

But after spending “half of my life savings,” he said, he is disappointed with the possibility of not being able to cash in on his investment.

Brian Griffin, who rents out his home via Airbnb, said most of his clients are quiet and don’t throw parties. He encouraged council members to consider the difference between guests simply looking for an alternative to casino resorts and people in town to rent party houses.

In renting to more than 125 visitors, Griffin said, he has never had “one single problem...The idea of grouping all of these together as party houses is really ridiculous.”

More than 35 people spoke during the nearly two-and-a-half-hour meeting, while more than a dozen others were asked to submit written comments because of time constraints.

Tarkanian and Coffin both voted in favor of the bill, while Anthony voted against it, calling the bill "ambiguous."

Rentals under 30 days are banned in Henderson and in unincorporated Clark County.

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