Clark County amends short-term rental ordinance

Clark County amends short-term rental ordinance

Patrick Semansky / AP, file

The Airbnb app icon is seen on an iPad screen in Washington, DC, on May 8, 2021. Airbnb Inc. reports quarterly financial results on Tuesday, February 14, 2023.

Amid backlash from short-term rental owners and a District Court ruling challenging parts of the ordinance governing the properties, the Clark County Commission today unanimously approved changes to the code.

Clark County District Court Judge Jessica Peterson filed a preliminary injunction in February that struck down parts of the county’s ordinance governing short-term rental properties unconstitutional.

In a 20-page document, Peterson called some rules in the ordinance “unconstitutionally vague and/or overbroad,” criticizing that it “lacked standards to ensure fair and equitable treatment” in certain areas such as fines and fines for violators of the ordinance.

“The Court specifically finds that certain provisions within the ordinance are unconstitutionally vague and broad and do not provide sufficient notice to enable a person of ordinary intelligence to understand what conduct is prohibited,” Peterson wrote.

The Greater Las Vegas Short Term Rental Association, which represents vacation rental owners throughout Southern Nevada, sued the county last year when the ordinance was first passed.

Jacqueline Flores, the association’s founder, said at a county meeting in March that the issue isn’t whether the county wants to regulate short-term rentals, but how they’re doing it.

County officials said there are about 10,000 illegal short-term rental properties in Clark County listed on sites like Airbnb and Vrbo, which are a popular way for travelers to rent rooms, apartments or houses.

The practice of using personal homes for commercial housing was legalized by the state in 2021 and lifted a ban on such rentals in unincorporated Clark County.

The ordinance changes clarify or remove areas the court found vague, overbroad or unconstitutional, county officials said.

Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick, an opponent of short-term rental properties, said the ordinance “hasn’t affected anyone who was supposed to be in business.”

The rule changes come after the county held a short-term rental license lottery at a March 29 meeting. There were 1306 applications.

There is no set number of licenses the county will issue, but officials said it would not exceed 1% of the county’s housing stock.

“If I were to rate the lottery and how it was implemented, I would have given it an ‘F,'” said Johnny Dortch, a short-term rental owner, at today’s meeting.

John Wong, who also applied for a licence, said the lottery included properties that were unsuitable. Wong said he found 39 rental applications that included properties within 2,500 feet of a resort hotel.

“The county’s request to rush the process continues to result in missteps, create confusion (and) further complicate the process,” Wong said.

Dortch called the lottery process a “random failure” and called for it to be redone.

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