Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017 | 8:30 p.m.
The Route 91 Harvest festival gunman began the process of obtaining a long-term rental unit at a downtown high-rise condo building weeks before the Life is Beautiful festival, according to a letter sent to The Ogden residents by its homeowners association.
In the letter sent Thursday, it is revealed that an outside real estate agent showed Stephen Paddock a privately owned unit inside the 21-story residential building on Sept. 8 and he later completed a rental application. The real estate agent provided Paddock with a one-year lease agreement but the gunman never responded to receiving it. They do not know why.
It previously has been reported that Paddock rented and stayed in multiple units over several days before and during Life is Beautiful, which ran Sept. 22-24 and drew an attendance of 137,000 people over the three days. Sheriff Joe Lombardo said those units were acquired through Airbnb, a popular web platform that allows people to rent out their rooms or entire residences.
The city of Las Vegas plans to crack down on such short-term rental units at the downtown high-rise after reports surfaced of Paddock’s stay.
Paddock murdered 58 people and injured 489 more Sunday evening when he opened fire on a country music festival across the street from a 32nd-floor suite at Mandalay Bay.
Las Vegas requires short-term rental operators to obtain a business license and special-use permit. However, those requirements largely are ignored or unknown to residents.
The city plans to inform condo owners at The Ogden they are in violation of a city ordinance and give them a chance to get into compliance. Las Vegas ordinance specifies at least 660 feet of separation between short-term rental properties, a requirement with which residents in buildings like the Ogden have taken issue.
According to Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, the city looked into short-term rentals at The Ogden after news emerged of Paddock’s stay. They found at least 20 listings, all unlicensed.
“Maybe more,” Tarkanian said.
Tarkanian has been the most vocal among council members about the city needing stricter regulations and stronger enforcement of short-term rental units. Most of the conversation on the topic has focused on so-called “party houses” that attract large groups of people who disrupt residential neighborhoods with loud music, drinking, drugs and litter.
But in light of speculation that Paddock may have used a short-term rental to scope out a potential massacre in downtown Las Vegas, Tarkanian said the need for transparency between cities and platforms like Airbnb is that much more pressing.
“Now would it have made a difference? I don’t know,” Tarkanian said. “He was so smart in what he was doing.”
Still, Tarkanian believes it illustrates the point that people who live in residential buildings and neighborhoods have a right to know who is staying next to them.
“They should feel good about where they live,” she added.
One Airbnb listing at The Ogden described itself as “steps away from Fremont Street and tasty container park” and noted that “the balcony opens up to overlook some really cool spots in Vegas.” It was renting for $118 per night on Thursday.
The Ogden said it currently reviewing its policies on short-term rentals and has engaged legal counsel to assist in this effort. The letter notes that it is not the responsibility of the homeowners association to ensure compliance with the city’s short-term rental ordinance.
According to investigators, Paddock also booked a room overlooking Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago in August and may also have scouted Fenway Park in Boston.