46°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Las Vegas city staff spent many hours on Badlands fight

Las Vegas city staff have spent 4,671 hours and the equivalent of nearly $420,000 in city salary and benefit costs working on the contentious Badlands golf course development project since 2015.

Those figures are detailed in a summary the city compiled showing the city time and cost commitment to the Badlands project. Councilwoman Michele Fiore asked for the accounting of hours, which was sent to City Council members last week, at a January council meeting where she asked how much has been spent on allowing council chambers to serve as “a courtroom for the richest men in Las Vegas.”

“While it seems extraordinary on a project like Badlands, such costs are typical on many of our larger master plan development agreements such as Skye Canyon, Summerlin and others,” Las Vegas City Manager Scott Adams wrote in an email to councilmembers last week. “We will be evaluating such costs going forward to determine whether the fees charged on these projects are sufficient to reasonably defray their administration.”

Developer EHB Cos., which has built projects like Tivoli Village and the Queensridge Towers, has put forth multiple plans for a residential development on the golf course. That has drawn ire from residents of the upscale Queensridge development the golf course weaves through — sparking multiple lawsuits.

“We spend a lot of money on development agreements when you look at all of the things it takes,” Fiore said this week, reacting to the city’s report. “The city is used to spending that type of money on big development plans. But to the average taxpayer, it seems ridiculous.”

The bulk of the hours — 2,521 — were considered “other staff time,” while 1,911 hours were spent in meetings.

Since late 2016, the Las Vegas Planning Commission and the council have held several hourslong sessions on the development plans. As of last week, the council had devoted 122 hours of meeting time to Badlands-related matters. That doesn’t include Wednesday’s meeting, where the City Council voted to delay the most recent round of development plans for single-family homes.

The Planning Commission wasn’t far behind, logging 118 meeting hours on Badlands.

“My first reaction was ‘wait a minute, sounds like a lot of money,” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said. “But I know the work our staff has been doing.”

The costs don’t capture salaried employees working on their normal days off to try to help the developers and the opponents reach a consensus, like City Attorney Brad Jerbic, who has worked weekends on the issue, Goodman said.

It will be nearly another three months before the council takes up Badlands again. It’s expected to resurface at the May 16 meeting.

“My hope is it comes to a conclusion quickly,” Fiore said.

City Councilman Steve Seroka, who represents the west Las Vegas ward where Badlands sits, last year pitched a moratorium on golf course redevelopment to give the city six months to create a comprehensive approach for dealing with situations where courses are shuttered and purchased by developers who want to build homes and apartments.

Seroka’s colleagues on the council said no to the moratorium, but city staff have been working on new regulations for developers who want to build on open space like parks and former golf courses.

When asked this week about the city’s cost summary, Seroka pointed to the lack of a comprehensive standard that could streamline the process for this type of project, which has proven controversial valleywide.

“We don’t have any policies,” Seroka said.

Contact Jamie Munks at jmunks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @Journo_Jamie_ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
RJ Politics Podcast with Deval Patrick - VIDEO
2020 Presidential Candidate Deval Patrick joins hosts Rory Appleton and Steve Sebelius on the RJ Politics Podcast.
Tom Steyer on Donald Trump and the economy - Video
Tom Steyer joins the RJ Politics podcast to talk about his campaign presence in Nevada and how he plans to take Trump on when talking about the economy. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas City Council Votes On Homeless Ordinance - Video
The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday will discuss expanding on a controversial camping and sleeping ban aimed at deterring the homeless from bivouacking on city streets to include hours when public sidewalks are being cleaned.
Biden meets with Vegas Latino community - VIDEO
Presidential candidate Joe Biden met with members of the Latino community at Rancho High School. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson, other Nevada cities consent to refugee resettlement - VIDEO
Henderson will continue to welcome refugees for resettlement, according to a December letter from Mayor Debra March. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg Speaks At Black Empowerment Event - Video
Pete Buttigieg speaks at a black empowerment event to talk about his Douglass plan.
Joe Biden at the national hospitality workers union.
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to members of the national hospitality workers union during UNITE HERE's town hall on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 at Culinary Union Hall in Las Vegas. @bizutesfaye
Elizabeth Warren at Culinary Union
Elizabeth Warren speaks at a Culinary Union town hall in Las Vegas on Dec. 9, 2019.
Secretary of Education visits Henderson school
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited students at Pinecrest Academy in Henderson to talk about college planning on Dec. 4, 2019. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump dropped from Terry Fator’s show on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Fator has edited out one prominent figure: President Donald Trump, a focal point of Fator’s regular stage show and also Christmas show over the past 3½ years. The Trump puppet, with his pop-up hairpiece, has been sidelined from both shows until further notice. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Accused murder mastermind Frank LaPena is granted a pardon - VIDEO
A onetime Las Vegas casino bell captain who spent 25 years in prison as the accused mastermind in a notorious 1974 contract murder won his last legal battle for freedom Wednesday when the state Pardons Board granted him a conditional pardon restoring all his civil rights. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Middle: Nonpartisan voters and the 2020 election
How will the growing segment of nonpartisan or independent voters — those who have not registered with either political party, or who have left partisan politics behind — vote in 2020?
THE LATEST
Foreign delegations tour tech hub in downtown Las Vegas

Las Vegas city officials welcomed delegations from six countries to its technology-focused coworking space in downtown on Monday, a day before the official start of one of the largest consumer electronic shows in the U.S.