Probable Lottery System for Clark County Short-Term Rentals

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Clark County lawmakers appear determined to set up a lottery system to issue more than 2,800 licenses to operate short-term rentals, in a move that would seek to regulate a massive industry that is currently illegal in the county.

On Tuesday, the county commission deliberated on how to approach short-term rentals as the state-mandated July 1 deadline nears to legalize the home-sharing business, made popular on platforms such as Airbnb.

The significant task would attempt to reduce the illegal market within the county’s jurisdiction, which includes the Las Vegas Strip. Despite the current ban on short-term rentals, an estimated 6,000 to 12,000 properties operate within the commission’s jurisdiction, officials said.

Assemblywoman Rochelle Nguyen was the lead sponsor of Assembly Bill 363, which passed last year and requires the county to regulate short-term rentals. Nguyen said banning the practice had proven ineffective, pointing to the large number of those who flouted the law.

Commissioners appeared to agree Tuesday on several items that could eventually be written into a pending order: capping licenses at 1% of all households; adopt a 1,000-foot distance requirement between rentals; limit licenses to one per owner or limited liability company; and decree an application cost of at least $1,000.

County lawmakers also appeared to support fines of up to $1,000 per violation for a legally operating short-term rental, and up to $10,000 per violation for an unlicensed rental.

While details remain in the preliminary stage, commissioners reiterated concerns that first surfaced during hearings on the bill last year. On the one hand, officials fear they may not have the financial or human resources to properly enforce the rules for authorized operations and the many others that are currently illegal.

“At the end of the day, no matter how much money we get, it’s going to cost us a fortune to implement this as a whole and from the start,” Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick said.

Officials also said they were concerned about shortcomings, such as an operator creating multiple LLCs or home-sharing platforms not doing enough to help the county shut down unlicensed short-term rentals.

“Today they’re not working with us on that,” said county code enforcement chief Jim Andersen.

Andersen said it’s also problematic that there are a few hundred places to list a short-term rental, and so removing a home from one site is inconsequential. Some platforms are also based outside the country.

Survey results

The talks came as the county revealed that the majority of more than 5,800 residents who responded to a recent county survey said they view short-term rentals unfavorably. Of note, 38% of respondents said they were neighbors affected by a rental, while only about 9% were owner/operators and 5% were users.

Most respondents were convinced that neighbors should be involved in the political process and informed if a neighbor should receive a license. Nearly three-quarters of respondents said safety inspections should be mandatory and 80% agreed a host should lose their license if the county receives multiple valid complaints about their property, the survey found.

There will be two public workshops on the county plan in the coming days. Commissioner Ross Miller is hosting a town hall at 5:30 p.m. on March 22 in the commission chambers at the County Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway. It will be available on the county TV channel as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube accounts.

A workshop led by Commissioner Justin Jones is scheduled from 5:30-7 p.m. on March 24 at the Desert Breeze Community Center, 8275 Spring Mountain Road.

Those interested in contributing to the county’s process can email [email protected] For updates, subscribe at ClarkCountyNV.gov/subscribe.

Contact Shea Johnson at [email protected] or 702-383-0272. To follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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