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Las Vegas City Council to consider short-term rental crackdown

Residents listen to comments on proposed amendments to Las Vegas ordinances regarding short-term rental properties on Monday, June 19, 2017, during the Recommending Committee meeting in Council Chambers at Las Vegas City Hall. (Travis S. Marshall/KSNV)

Homeowner John Saling braves the sun on a sizzling Monday to make a point.

“I like this neighborhood. I like living in town. I like being in town and I don’t want it turned into what it wasn't when I bought it,” he tells me as we stand on a manicured lawn in front of a beautiful vintage ranch house.

He lives on a beautiful street in the Scotch 80's.

His problem: the house across the street, which he says is a short-term rental.

We met Saling a month ago when a City Council committee first took up the issue.

A month later, anything changed, I ask?

“It's the same - even gotten worse. Sometimes it's very bad,” Saling said, telling News 3 the story of a recent weekend when dozens of cars were parked in front of the house on what had been a quiet street.

“We don't know who they are. I used to know my neighbor. I know all the neighbors, but these people are not my neighbors. They're just renters,” Saling says.

RELATED | County officials struggle to enforce illegal home rentals

On Monday, the Las Vegas City Council’s recommending committee, made up of three council members, considered an ordinance that would tighten the rules on short-term rentals. Normally held in a first-floor conference room, Monday’s meeting was held in the full council chambers because there was so much public comment – pro and con – that the session needed a bigger space.

The same thing happened on May 15, when an overflow crowd forced the move to council chambers. So many people wanted to speak, the city scheduled a second session today.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit short-term rentals closer than 660 feet and in some cases, would require a special use permit to operate. The amended ordinance, introduced Monday, would also require the owner of a short-term rental to occupy the premises if three or fewer bedrooms are being rented. If the owner did not want to live on site, a special use permit would be required.

Short term rental supporters say they’re providing a service and filling a tourism niche for customers who do not want hotels.

“My target group is winter snowbirds. I get a lot of retired couples,” says Marco Ritzo, representing the Vegas Vacation Rental Association.

Ritzo owns and rents a three bedroom in Summerlin and says he doesn't want to cause anyone any problems.

“We don't want party houses. Obviously, if I have a party in my house, it wrecks my house. It creates disputes with my neighbors. It creates all kinds of problems I don't want that,” Ritzo says.

RELATED | Las Vegas neighborhoods urge city to place tougher restrictions on short-term rentals

Short term supporters say the better solution is better enforcement against the bad apples.

That doesn't work, says Amy Saling, who met me Monday in front of her Scotch 80’s house with her husband.

“Code enforcement. It's a week later they'll get back to you. There's nobody there to take responsibility of what's going on in our neighborhoods,” she says.

Ritzo agrees.

“One of the primary issues is they’re overburdened. They don’t have the resources to respond immediately,” Ritzo says.

His group is proposing - and would pay for - a 24-hour service that would respond to complaints within two hours.

Las Vegas resident Michelle Duncan says the house behind her is a party house.

“They are not families who came with their kids who play soccer. They’re bachelor parties, at the very least,” says Duncan.

The short-term industry has exploded thanks to websites such as AirBnB, which allow owners to list their homes. Search for Las Vegas and you’ll find dozens of properties. The city says it currently has 155 properties that have been licensed, although short-term opponents say many, many more are not.

Lorraine Garcia has a short-term rental in Glen Heather Estates, around the Rancho and Sahara area.

“We have families, who, for example, a family from Israel traveling with a special needs child – their goal was to tour the southwest park system,” Garcia says.

She tells me responsible short-term owners try to keep out bad customers.

“A responsible, present short-term rental owner will screen out problem guests,” Garcia says.

The recommending committee has sent the ordinance to the full Las Vegas City Council, which takes up the issue Wednesday.

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