83°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Local laws don’t require AC in most Southern Nevada homes

Updated June 27, 2017 - 7:13 pm

Before last week’s record heat wave drove them out of their rental home, Laquenta Evans’ family tried to live with their broken air conditioner.

They bought electric fans, dunked their feet in buckets of water and draped wet towels across their necks.

Nothing seemed to help, so the Evans family — two parents, five children and their great grandmother — retreated to a nearby hotel until their landlord paid for a replacement air conditioner.

“There’s no place in the house that’s comfortable,” Laquenta Evans, 39, recalled of the experience. “It’s uncomfortable to even have clothes on.”

But while the summer heat makes air conditioning indispensable for many, a survey of local county and city building codes showed that almost none guarantee a home will have air conditioning.

North Las Vegas is the only local government in Clark County that requires residences to have air conditioning to be deemed habitable.

Since 1995, the city’s code has stipulated that homes be able to be kept at 70 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler.

“We know that if a person doesn’t have the ability to cool themselves it can lead to health and safety issues,” said Alfredo Melesio Jr., North Las Vegas director of land development and community services. “The settings you prefer are your own personal business.”

Building codes for the county and the cities of Las Vegas, Henderson, Mesquite and Boulder City require heating but not air conditioning.

County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said she’s working with her building department and the district attorney’s office to implement a county law similar to the one in North Las Vegas.

“There should be some minimum standards of expectations for people to live in,” she said.

‘Like a furnace’

In a typical year, there will be nearly 70 days in the Las Vegas Valley on which temperatures will exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the National Weather Service said.

It’s common for a home with no air conditioning to be hotter than outside, said Stephen Gamst, a manager with Goettl Air Conditioning.

“Some can literally be like a furnace. You’ll just sit in there and bake,” he said. “In your attic, it gets up to 150 degrees. And you’ve got a thin barrier between your attic and your house.”

That heat can kill.

On average, 10 people die in Clark County each year because of the heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s five times the national rate.

“We’ll see people with temperatures of 102 or 103 (degrees Fahrenheit), their heart rate will be over 100 (beats per minute),” said Dr. Dale Carrison, an emergency physician at University Medical Center of Southern Nevada. “If you lose your thermoregulation, you can risk heat stroke, and that can easily lead to death.”

There have been at least 12 heat-related deaths this year, the county coroner’s office said.

In one recent case, a 69-year-old Henderson woman died after her air conditioner broke and temperatures inside her home soared to 140 degrees, according to her daughter.

Homes without AC rare

How many local homes lack air conditioning remains a mystery. City and county officials said they don’t keep track, but the number is likely low.

Chris Knight, the city of Las Vegas’ top building and safety official, said it’s unheard of for new homes to be built without air conditioning.

Patty Kelley, a local Realtor for the past 28 years, added that she’s never encountered one for sale.

“I can honestly say I’ve never seen a house that didn’t have air conditioning in Las Vegas,” she said. “I don’t think anyone would buy a house without air conditioning unless they planned on putting it in themselves.”

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
For more on current conditions in Las Vegas and forecasts, see the updated graphic below or go to our weather map.
Politics Videos
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
THE LATEST