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Clark County's Safety Expert Retires

new_home.jpg

(AP Photo/John Locher)

In this April 13, 2015, photo, a worker helps to build a new home at a housing tract in Las Vegas.

Since the early 1980s, Ron Lynn has been like the rest of us: stunned to watch as Clark County grew from a population of some 500,000 people to more than 2 million.

Unlike most people, though, Lynn had a closer view to the growth of the Strip, the suburbs and everything in between.

He’s the director of Clark County’s Building and Fire Prevention Department. A big part of that job is permitting new construction and inspecting ongoing projects.

Now, after 35 years, he’s retiring.

During the boom of the mid-2000s, Ron Lynn’s office employed more than 100 inspectors, then another dozen or so people to manage those inspectors.

So Lynn lived and worked through the breakneck boom.

“I don’t believe any of us including myself really predicted the depth of the recession,” he said. 

His office is paid for entirely by fees from builders and developers. When the recession hit and those fees dropped, he had to layoff hundreds of people and cut expenses. 

But he said something good has come out of the housing crisis. 

“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste," he said, "There is a silver lining.” 

Lynn said developers and banks are more conservative and strategic in their planning. They're more careful about where investment money is coming from and whether that money is stable.

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Despite the crash and its impact, Lynn said he doesn't have regrets about how he or his office handled the building boom. He does however wish the $275 million Harmon Hotel at CityCenter had been handled different.

“I wish I had a 100 eyes on the Harmon when it was going up,” he said.  “Harmon was a fairly complex project in an extremely difficult time.”

The hotel which once sat half finished on Las Vegas Boulevard had to be taken down piece by piece after it was discovered that it had major structural problems. 

The issues at the hotel led to lengthy lawsuits and millions of dollars in losses for MGM Resorts International. Plus, Lynn said two inspectors lost their licenses because of it.

“A number of layers failed in the process," he said.  

But, he said processes were changed because of those failures. He said the rigorous standards that are in place now means a problem like that won't happen again. 

 

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Ron Lynn, former director, Clark County’s Building and Fire Prevention Department

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