More Las Vegas houses boarded up despite improved economy

At an abandoned house a mile or so from the Meadows Mall, the boards covering the front door and windows have a red-colored message: “No Trespassing.”

But people aren’t staying away. A side gate is open, someone sprayed an anarchy symbol on the house, and a next-door neighbor sees vagrants come and go. Some nights, he says, there’s so much noise he can’t sleep.

The house was boarded in March, though it’s not the only property in Las Vegas getting covered with plywood.

The number of homes getting boarded up in the city has been rising even as the real estate market and broader economy improve. Blocking a home’s entry points doesn’t guarantee its security, but it’s a way for local officials to deal with nuisance properties, and such efforts have been increasing.

Las Vegas officials will board a house if the owner fails to secure the so-called open and accessible property. As of June 5, city contractors had boarded homes 97 times in the fiscal year that started last July, compared with 117 the previous fiscal year, 44 in 2011 and around 30 annually before the recession hit, according to city officials.

The figures are only for homes within Las Vegas city limits, not in unincorporated Clark County or other cities such as Henderson and North Las Vegas.

It’s not uncommon for abandoned houses in the valley to get squatters or vandals, or to go up in flames. But even if they stay empty, the homes can fall into disrepair with trash and debris scattered about, dead or overgrown landscaping, broken windows, polluted pool water or other problems.

‘Almost everywhere’

Phyllis Weaver, who lives near the intersection of Bonanza Road and Eastern Avenue, knows all about vacant properties. The house next door is empty, and a homeless person is camping in the backyard of another one on her street.

She’s also a contractor whose family-owned company, Weaver Construction, gets hired by the city and Clark County to board empty properties. She’s securing two to three homes per month.

Vacant houses are “almost everywhere,” she said, and her workload from the city and county isn’t dropping.

“They’re kind of neck and neck, to be totally sad about it,” Weaver said.

Las Vegas city officials receive new complaints about abandoned properties “every day,” code-enforcement supervisor Vicki Ozuna said. Many homes getting boarded up are in older, more centrally located areas of Las Vegas, but neighborhoods outside the city’s core aren’t immune.

Officials have theories about what’s fueling the rise in cast-aside houses, she said, including that lenders should be foreclosing on vacant properties but aren’t, leaving homes in limbo and up for grabs. Ozuna figures 20 percent of the homes the city boards up has squatters or vagrants.

All told, she said city officials do wonder: “Why are we still coming across so many abandoned houses?”

‘Hopefully it’ll work’

Boarding Up (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

It costs around $1,200 to $1,500 to board a typical house, and in perhaps fewer than 5 percent of the city’s cases, people still broke in, Ozuna said.

“For the most part, they just move on and find another place to hang out,” she said.

To prevent break-ins, city officials launched a pilot program last year to secure homes with a sheet plastic made of polycarbonate, a supposedly more durable option than plywood. But vagrants still got inside the test house off Charleston Boulevard near Pecos Road; they cut through the walls and ripped off the plastic covering.

City officials told the owner to demolish the house or give code enforcement a timeline to permanently secure and rehab it, a filing with the county recorder’s office shows. The owner tore it down, but if he hadn’t, the city would have, Ozuna said.

The city also hired a contractor to create software that uses tax data, foreclosure filings, liens and other records to predict whether a house is abandoned. Officials hope the program, dubbed the Community Risk Data Portal, will be up and running in the next few months, Ozuna said.

“Hopefully it’ll work,” she said.

Banks are “moving through their inventory” with foreclosures, short sales and other efforts, but the difficulty of repossessing a house “certainly still exists,” Nevada Mortgage Lenders Association Chairman Jon Gedde said.

He pointed to federal and state regulations that largely were enacted after the housing crash, saying there can be “severe consequences” if lenders don’t follow all the rules when foreclosing on a property.

Gedde figured it takes an average of about 500 days — or almost a year and a half — in Nevada to repossess a home, from when a borrower is 90 days late on payments to the lender taking title. That’s longer than in most states, he said, but shorter than in some.

Problems pile up

The local economy has made headway after getting all but wiped out by the recession. But Las Vegas, ground zero for America’s foreclosure and underwater crises, still has a higher-than-average share of empty homes.

Some 13,900 homes in Clark County, or 2.1 percent of residential properties, were vacant as of the third quarter last year, compared with 1.6 percent nationally, housing tracker Attom Data Solutions reports.

The boarded-up house near the Meadows Mall didn’t empty out because of financial problems. The owner was sentenced in February to one to two years in prison, with 87 days credit for time served, after pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, court records show.

But other recently boarded properties are owned by people who took out mortgages before the economy crashed.

The owner of a one-story, 1980s house near Lone Mountain Road and Jones Boulevard took out a $150,000 mortgage in February 2007. But liens for unpaid water, sewer and trash bills started mounting two years ago, and the city in January ordered the owner to remove all refuse and waste, repair the garage door and remove stagnant water from the pool and spa, filings with the county show.

The notice also said there was no electric service at the house, kitchen and bathroom drains were blocked, and windows were broken.

The house was boarded up in April. On a recent visit, a side gate was open and the garage door was damaged, as if someone had driven into it.

‘We should just tear it down’

Squatters have taken over homes around the valley in recent years, enabled by the big inventory of vacant properties and widespread use of fake leases. State lawmakers and local governments have cracked down, but the problem persists.

The Metropolitan Police Department, which handles Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County, has reported “vast increases” in squatter-related service calls. It received almost 5,400 last year, up 73 percent from 2014.

Nuisance housing isn’t only within Las Vegas city limits. From 2012 to 2016, Clark County officials responded an average of 831 times annually to abandoned properties in unincorporated areas, according to figures from spokesman Dan Kulin.

Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick said she’s frustrated that the county will board up homes, but people still get inside. As she sees it, one solution is to bulldoze problem properties.

Kirkpatrick said many vacant homes are owned by people who live out of state and don’t respond to county officials’ letters or phone calls.

“Zero response,” she said. “And I think that if you don’t respond, we should just tear it down.”

Commissioners discussed abandoned properties at a hearing June 6 at Kirkpatrick’s request. At the hearing, Clark County code-enforcement supervisor Dave Pollex said he’s dealing with a lot of squatter homes.

As he described it, properties can have stolen power or no electricity, squatters often have criminal backgrounds, and “a lot of times” properties get set on fire.

“To me, it’s just an out-of-control issue right now,” he told commissioners. “And honestly, we can’t keep up with it.”

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nonprofit provides clothing for homeless
Sydney Grover of Can You Spare A Story?, talks about how she founded the non-profit organization. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family remembers deceased mother
Family members of Adriann Gallegos remember her. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Restoring classic Corvettes to perfection
Members of the National Corvette Restorers Society Convention talk about what it takes to earn the NCRS Top Flight Award for a restored Corvette at South Point in Las Vegas on Tuesday July 17, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Clark County recount votes in commission’s District E primary
Clark County staff begin the recount requested by candidate Marco Hernandez in the democratic primary for the County Commission's District E seat on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Long-running local hip hop producer wants Vegas rappers to shine
Las Vegas Hip Hop producer and co-owner of Digital Insight Recording Studios Tiger Stylz reflects on 30 years of music production in the city. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Construction for new 51s ballpark underway
New home of the Las Vegas 51s is planned to be finished by March 2019 in Summerlin according to team president Don Logan. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Business
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
Motel 8 on south Strip will become site of hotel-casino
Israeli hoteliers Asher Gabay and Benny Zerah bought Motel 8 on the south Strip for $7.4 million, records show. They plan to bulldoze the property and build a hotel-casino. Motel 8 was built in the 1960s and used to be one of several roadside inns on what's now the south Strip. But it looks out of place today, dwarfed by the towering Mandalay Bay right across the street.
Project billed as one of the world's largest marijuana dispensaries plans to open Nov. 1
Planet 13 co-CEO Larry Scheffler talks about what to expect from the new marijuana dispensary, Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Oasis Biotech opens in Las Vegas
Brock Leach, chief operating officer of Oasis Biotech, discusses the new plant factory at its grand opening on July 18. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV Tech Park innovation building breaks ground
Construction on the first innovation building at the UNLV Tech Park is underway. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars Forum Meeting Center
Caesars broke ground Monday on its $375 million Caesars Forum Meeting Center (convention center) just east of the High Roller observation wheel. (Caesars Entertainment)
Technology reshapes the pawn shop industry
Devin Battersby attaches a black-colored device to the back of her iPhone and snaps several of the inside and outside of a Louis Vuitton wallet. The device, installed with artificial intelligence capabilities, analyzes the images using a patented microscopic technology. Within a few minutes, Battersby receives an answer on her app. The designer item is authentic.
Recreational marijuana has been legal in Nevada for one year
Exhale Nevada CEO Pete Findley talks about the one year anniversary of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Young adults aren't saving for retirement
Financial advisors talk about saving trends among young adults. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump’s tariffs could raise costs for real estate developers, analysts say
President Donald Trump made his fortune in real estate, but by slapping tariffs on imports from close allies, developers in Las Vegas and other cities could get hit hard.
Las Vegas business and tariffs
Barry Yost, co-owner of Precision Tube Laser, LLC, places a metal pipe into the TruLaser Tube 5000 laser cutting machine on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Nevada Film Office Connects Businesses To Producers
The director of the Nevada Film Office discusses its revamped locations database and how it will affect local businesses. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Opendoor isn't the typical house flipping company
Unlike most house flippers, the company aims to make money from transaction costs rather than from selling homes for more than their purchase price.
The Venetian gondoliers sing Italian songs
Gondolier Marciano sings a the classic Italian song "Volare" as he leads guests through the canals of The Venetian in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Building In Logandale
Texas homebuilder D.R. Horton bought 43 lots in rural Logandale. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LVCVA CEO Rossi Ralenkotter announces plans to retire
Rossi Ralenkotter, CEO of the LVCVA, on Tuesday confirmed a Las Vegas Review-Journal report that he is preparing to retire. Richard N. Velotta/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Cousins Maine Lobster to open inside 2 Las Vegas Smith’s stores
Cousins Maine Lobster food truck company will open inside Las Vegas’ two newest Smith’s at Skye Canyon Park Drive and U.S. Highway 95, and at Warm Springs Road and Durango Drive. Cousins currently sells outside some Las Vegas Smith’s stores and at Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas home prices to continue to rise, expert says
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, gives homebuyers a pulse on the Las Vegas housing market. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NV Energy announces clean energy investment
The company is planning to add six solar projects in Nevada, along with the state's first major battery energy storage capacity. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
3 Mario Batali restaurants on Las Vegas Strip to close
Days after new sexual misconduct allegations were made against celebrity chef Mario Batali, his company announced Friday that it will close its three Las Vegas restaurants July 27. Employees of Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, B&B Ristorante and Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria, all located in The Venetian and Palazzo resorts, were informed of the decision Friday morning. Bastianich is scheduled to visit the restaurants Friday to speak to employees about the next two months of operation as well as how the company plans to help them transition to new positions.
Nevada has its first cybersecurity apprenticeship program
The Learning Center education company in Las Vegas has launched the first apprenticeship program for cybersecurity in Nevada. It was approved by the State Apprenticeship Council on May 15. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas union members voting to authorize the right to strike
Thousands of Las Vegas union members voting Tuesday morning to authorize the right to strike. A “yes” vote would give the union negotiating committee the power to call a strike anytime after June 1 at the resorts that fail to reach an agreement. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like