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Lombardo calls on Biden to release federal land for housing

Gov. Joe Lombardo sent President Joe Biden a letter Tuesday morning, urging him to release more of Nevada’s federally owned land to make way for more housing developments.

Later this afternoon Biden will visit Las Vegas to discuss his vision for more affordable housing as well as steps he has taken to lower the cost of housing for families.

The high cost of housing is hurting families across the country, Lombardo wrote, but the crisis is felt acutely in Nevada, where growth in the last three decades, combined with inflation, increased interest rates and a dwindling housing inventory, exacerbate the housing problem.

Eighty-five percent of Nevada land is federally owned and managed, yet the Biden administration has restricted growth, Lombardo wrote.

“I urge you to cut the bureaucratic red tape that prevents Nevada communities from achieving their housing and economic development goals,” Lombardo said in the letter.

Lombardo called on Biden to direct the Department of the Interior to complete a statewide Resource Management Plan to determine the appropriate uses of public lands in Nevada, or to update the existing plans that govern land land management.

In Northern Nevada, the median price of a home is around $550,000, and in Southern Nevada the median price is $445,000 — both well above the national average, Lombardo wrote.

“The lack of attainable workforce housing is taking a toll on Nevadans’ quality of life, hurting our ability to expand our workforce, and restricting opportunities for economic growth,” Lombardo wrote.

For Nevada to access federal land, it must rely on congressional acts and backlogged federal agencies, Lombardo wrote. The process for making federal land private for development is too slow and complex, he said.

“Nevada can no longer afford the federal government’s broken and backlogged bureaucracy,” he wrote. “We need the federal government to be a partner in addressing the housing crisis and act immediately to reduce the barriers and bureaucracy that stand between Nevada families and affordable homes. I hope you will join me to work on these important issues.”

Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., said on X that she agrees with Lombardo that Congress needs to make it easier to expand affordable housing in Nevada. She asked that he endorse her Accelerating Appraisals and Conservation Efforts Act, which aims to tackle federal appraisal bottlenecks by making more appraisers available. It would also require the Department of Interior to continue to prioritize working with local appraisers.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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