The Scotch 80s neighborhood, one of the oldest in Las Vegas, sits near Charleston Boulevard and University Medical Center with its clamor of frequent gridlock and blaring ambulance sirens.
That clamor could be at their front doors, residents fear, if the hospital's proposal for a 268-space parking lot on the neighborhood's edge is allowed to proceed.
"Clark County is just going to start steamrolling into a residential neighborhood," said Stephen Grogan, president of the Scotch 80s Home Owners Association. "It'll change the entire neighborhood structure of the Scotch 80s. This is a major devastation of the neighborhood."
Las Vegas leaders have faced this issue before, and probably will again: the push to use residential properties for higher-value commercial activity, particularly in older parts of town that may need an economic shot in the arm.
In this case, Clark County has asked to rezone 2.9 acres that front on Charleston Boulevard and Shadow Lane from residential to professional office/parking, and to allow the lot to be operated 24 hours a day. It will be used as an overflow parking lot for UMC, according to a letter sent by the county to city officials.
Clark County officials did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. Las Vegas City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, who represents the area, also did not answer a request for comment.
The Las Vegas Historical Preservation Commission did weigh in on Wednesday, approving a letter opposing the project.
A nearly 60-year-old house at 1128 Shadow Lane would have to be demolished. While it doesn't qualify for a historic listing on its own, it acts as a buffer between commercial and residential uses and "falls within the HPC's interest in preserving such homes," the commission's letter states.
The Scotch 80s "is well-known for its 1950s-60s style of single story ranch architecture on large lots," the Historical Preservation Commission's letter says. "The neighborhood has historic character as to the present and former owners, many of whom are and were of major importance in the city's early growth heritage."
One of those residents, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, will consider the project if it comes before the Las Vegas City Council.
Through a spokesman, Goodman wouldn't comment Wednesday, saying he hadn't been to neighborhood meetings on the project.
Goodman said he would consult with the city attorney to see if his status as a resident is enough of a conflict of interest for him to abstain on any eventual vote.
Residents have expressed more than just historical preservation concerns. They're also worried about traffic.
As proposed, the parking lot would have exits on Charleston and Shadow Lane. Residents fear traffic will spread through the neighborhood, with drivers using Ellis Avenue to access Charleston or Waldman Avenue to reach Rancho Drive.
Thomas Turner, who owns property next to the house that would be demolished, said he wrote to commissioners that "my property and its occupants will be very substantially impacted by the proposed zoning variances."
The change "calls for heavy commercial traffic encroaching on a very substantial distance further into what is now the interior of the Scotch 80s neighborhood."
Turner said he was open to compromise, though, and suggested that the parking lot have only one entrance, on Charleston.
Grogan acknowledged that something would happen with the properties, one of which is a vacant lot. "But the parking lot is unacceptable."
"What we're facing now is periphery erosion. Now is the time to battle and keep the quality of the homes. This is happening in a lot of other neighborhoods around town."
Contact reporter Alan Choate at achoate @reviewjournal.com or 702-229-6435.