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A state ethics complaint alleging bias in a short-term rental application has been filed by a veteran zoning consultant against a Las Vegas Planning Commissioner.
It’s an action that normally wouldn’t attract much attention, but these are politically charged times at City Hall.
The commissioner in question is Christina Roush. Longtime zoning and planning consultant Nathan Taylor filed the complaint alleging bias.
Smith said that Roush's husband hired Taylor to lobby Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian to change her mind about short-term rentals because the Roush family has properties they want to set up as short-term rentals.
However, that effort failed and the council voted to ban most short-term rentals.
“When that failed, it was expressed on the record by the commissioner that she no longer had faith or had a level of bias with Taylor when he came before the commission,” Smith explained.
The job of a planning commissioner is to make sure any changes to the zoning or planning stay within the overall city plan but Smith said that because of conditions at City Hall that job is becoming politicized.
“Because of some ongoing politics, it’s become so highly charged downtown that anything that happens is generally put under a political microscope,” he said.
Ethics complaints are often used for political purposes, Smith said and most don't end up becoming anything. But this case might be the exception.
“In this case, however, I think you have to take seriously the idea that a person like Roush, who is very successful in the real estate business - she’s a major executive at Cushman and Wakefield that’s a high profile commercial realtor - that that person on the planning commission almost is bound to create conflicts.”
Smith said because of her business interests Roush often abstains from votes, which although admirable, isn't helpful to those she's been tasked with representing.
“What is her effectiveness for the constituents and for Councilman Seroka… if she’s having to bow out of so many votes because there is a business interest,” he said.
"There right at Red Rock, there is this place that is tucked away. You go off the highway. It's green. It's got a petting zoo and it's one of those throwbacks to a previous Las Vegas that existed not so many years ago. It has an Old West theme."
The owners of Bonnie Springs Ranch are looking at selling the place to developers to turn into a housing development. The community has pushed back against that idea and an online petition to stop the sale has gathered thousands of signatures.
The plan differs from the controversy surrounding Blue Diamond Hill development, which is still making its way through the courts, in many ways Smith said. For one thing, the land was already a commercial development and for another, the size and scope of the development are smaller than the one planned for the hill overlooking Red Rock.
"You've got developers... who are sensitive to this transition... and they're promising to keep some public space, which is a great idea," he said.
John L. Smith, contributor
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