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City Of Las Vegas Tightens Restrictions On Short-Term Rentals


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Short-term rentals, like Airbnbs, will soon need special-use permits to operate in the city of Las Vegas.
The city council narrowly passed the bill Wednesday.
The goal of the ordinance is to curb bad behavior and give neighbors a say in who operates in their neighborhood.
The bill was sponsored by Ward 1 Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, who has worked for many years to change the city laws surrounding short-term rentals. Much of her ward has larger, older homes close to the Las Vegas Strip and downtown, which are often rented for parties.
Ward 1 Liaison Robin Munier told KNPR's State of Nevada that under the bill operators of short-term rentals will have to pay $1,030 in fees to the city when they apply for a special-use permit and allow the city to better monitor who is in the home.
"It allows the city to be able to monitor and know exactly how many operators we have out there and if someone is operating without the special-use permit it allows the city to levy ... violations against them," Munier said.
Under the ordinance, she explained, operators of the business will have two years to comply with the new rules or decide to do something else with the property.  
Many neighborhood associations in the city support the new rules. Dayvid Figler is the president of the historic John S. Park Neighborhood Association. He said the new ordinance will allow homeowners to be part of the process because now they'll be notified when someone is applying for the special-use permit.  
Figler argues that short-term rentals, whether they're so-called party houses or not, are commercial businesses in a residential neighborhood and should be regulated that way.
"This isn't about whether or not they're going to enforce, but whether or not they should even be allowed to put commercial businesses in residential zones," he said. "The primary thread is are you allowing enough corporations — many from out of state, some from out of the country — to start changing the character of residential neighborhoods, especially historic residential neighborhoods without any regulation." 
Figler doesn't believe neighbors will reject every short-term rental owner who applies for a special-use permit. He believes they'll make a determination based on the properties' location and the owner's history. He believes the good operators, who have followed all the rules and regulations, will have no problem getting approved.
Julie Davies is with the Vegas Vacation Rental Association. She opposes the ordinance passed Wednesday because she believes it's too burdensome and will drive operators further into a black market.
"What the bill is going to do is put people underground ... It is going to make the unlicensed ones thrive more," she said. 
Davies said there is a demand for short-term rentals in Las Vegas and changing the regulation won't eliminate that. She argued that no one who has applied for a special-use permit under the current regulation, which is needed when a short-term rental is within a certain distance of another short-term rental, has never been approved. 
She said the city is essentially asking owners to gamble with the $1,030 in fees.
"What they want you to do to is set up an entire business, invest a couple hundred thousand dollars, set up your furnishing, set up your listing, make it all ready for a license. You apply for the license, and then you have to go before the council for a SUP [special-use permit] and its a gamble," she said.  
Marco Ritzo is also with the Vegas Vacation Rental Association. He said there are two issues when it comes to short-term rentals in the city. The first is party homes, which he says no one wants. The second issue is unlicensed homes. He doesn't think the new ordinance addresses either of those problems.
"The new regulations do absolutely nothing to encourage people to be licensed. In fact, it obviously makes it harder now and it does nothing on the enforcement side. It just adds more rules to the people who are already following the rules," he said. 

Support comes from

Airbnb also weighed in on the issue. Press Secretary Jasmine Mora sent this statement in response to the council's decision: "While dozens of cities around the globe are embracing the economic benefits of home sharing, today's decision is a step in the wrong direction that threatens an important economic lifeline for thousands of Las Vegas families. There are common sense solutions to address specific concerns and Airbnb is eager to work with policy makers to develop a better approach."
Munier said the ordinance is a jumping off point. She points out that changes can be made to it to improve it for both neighborhoods and short-term rental operators.

Robin Munier, liaison, Ward 1 Las Vegas; Julie Davies, spokesperson, Vegas Vacation Rental Association; Dayvid Figler, president, John S. Park Neighborhood Association; Marco Ritzo, member, Vegas Vacation Rental Association 

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KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR's State of Nevada