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Culinary files NLV rent-control initiative

Updated June 30, 2022 - 6:16 pm

More than 100 Culinary Workers Union Local 226 members, all wearing red, gathered at the front of North Las Vegas City Hall on Thursday to submit signatures to put a rent control measure on the ballot in November.

Union members and leaders were joined by Gov. Steve Sisolak, Congressman Steven Horsford and Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom.

The ballot measure would tie maximum rent increases in North Las Vegas to the consumer price index, or 5 percent annually, whichever is lower. The consumer price index is a government indicator for how much the costs of basic goods have changed over time.

Speakers mostly blamed rising housing costs on commercial landlords, who buy up large numbers of property to rent.

“Rent has gone up almost 30 percent since last year,” Horsford said. “You know why? Because out-of-state corporate investors have come in here and they’ve targeted our neighborhoods.”

The union needed 15 percent of recently active North Las Vegas voters, about 475 people, to sign petition for the ballot measure. It said in a statement that it had gathered 3,396 signatures, or more than seven times what was required.

“Our state in the last couple of years has faced unprecedented growth in out-of-state speculators coming in and buying up homes in our neighborhoods, and raising the rent,” Sisolak said. “They’re not investing in our community. They’re taking money out of our community back to their corporate headquarters and not supporting the citizens.”

Political charge

Sisolak, who is running for re-election, also attacked his opponent, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.

“My opponent, Joe Lombardo, is supported by the elite out-of-state landlords that are fighting a dark money campaign trying to buy up homes, and we can’t afford that type of development,” he said.

Lombardo campaign spokeswoman Elizabeth Ray replied that Sisolak’s campaign is no stranger to dark money, either.

“Steve Sisolak just can’t make up allegations and assign blame for his own failures to Joe Lombardo,” Ray said in a statement. “But it’s funny, did Shady Steve happen to mention the millions in dark money that the Democratic Governors Association spent against the Sheriff in the Republican primary? Or the hundreds of thousands in unreported money that (Democratic Assemblywoman) Sandra Jauregui’s partner spent against the Sheriff in the Patriot Freedom Fund PAC? Did he open the books on Home Means Nevada PAC?

“Even before his Northshore COVID-19 testing scandal, Steve Sisolak was the least ethical governor in Nevada history,” Ray added. “Nevadans are sick and tired of his lies, corruption, and pay-to-play politics at their expense.”

North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, who ran in the Republican primary for governor but placed fourth, gave support for the measure in a statement but derided Sisolak’s campaigning.

“Housing is arguably the most severe crisis our state is facing right now, and Gov. Sisolak has the unilateral constitutional authority to call a special session to fix this statewide emergency right now!” Lee said in a statement. “The talking points and pandering we’ve received to date may sound good on a campaign flyer but does absolutely nothing to help the scores of Nevadans struggling right now! Our residents demand and deserve better now!”

Targeting price-gouging

Horsford said he will introduce a measure in Congress to target landlords who price gouge with rent at the end of the July 4 recess.

“What is my bill going to do? It’s going to hold those out-of-state corporate landlords accountable for gouging my constituents,” he said. “It’s going to make sure that we empower the secretary of (the Department of Housing and Urban Development) to go after these price gougers to get the evidence to show that they are targeting Black, Latino and single family neighborhoods because they care more about their profits than the people in our neighborhoods.”

Sisolak said he views the North Las Vegas initiative as a sort of pilot program, and wants to implement it in other parts of the state if it is successful.

“My legal team is looking at what’s been done across the country, whether there can be assessment against (corporate landlords),” Sisolak said. “And they’re buying these (homes) with tax abatements on all the properties as well, which is reducing property taxes which is reducing our funding for schools. So we need to have everything on the table when it comes to addressing the greed of corporate landlords.”

In a statement, North Las Vegas spokesman Patrick Walker said affordable housing was a valleywide issue.

“We welcome that our community partners are working to find a solution to the statewide affordable housing crisis,” Walker said. “All local jurisdictions in Southern Nevada have been struggling with affordable housing, and we look forward to working with the Culinary Union to solve this spiraling crisis impacting our working families.”

Contact Nick Robertson at NRobertson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @NickRobertsonSU on Twitter.

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