North Las Vegas residents renting out rooms on Airbnb will have to pay an annual licensing fee of $900, the highest in the valley, after the City Council voted to impose restrictions on short-term rentals.
The 4-0 vote came after a lengthy discussion, in which the council heard criticism from residents, who submitted comments or called into the virtual meeting Wednesday. Others said they supported the restrictions meant to lessen the number of party houses. Councilman Richard Cherchio was absent from the meeting.
Previously, Airbnb reported one of the biggest weekends in 2019 for travelers in Las Vegas was the Electric Daisy Carnival. Room rates during next year’s music festival range from a private room for $65 a night to an entire home at $3,284 per night in North Las Vegas, according to Airbnb’s website.
One house is advertised as a “EDC Mini Castle” that can host up to 16 guests, located in a residential neighborhood close to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where the 2021 festival is scheduled to take place May 21-23.
A neighborhood north of Shadow Creek Golf Course has eight houses that are available that weekend all charging between $1,375 and $2,999 per night.
Restrictions on rentals
For each short-term rental, homeowners will have to pay $900 annually. They will also be subjected to a 13 percent transient lodging tax, unless the occupant stays 30 days or longer, according to the ordinance.
Only homeowners who have owned their home for a year can apply to have short-term rentals and would also have to pay an initial $100 for a conditional-use permit the first year, according to Land Development and Community Services Director Marc Jordan.
In addition, applicants will have to meet several requirements including installing noise monitoring equipment, obtaining a certificate of insurance with general liability coverage of at least $500,000 and notifying neighbors within 200 feet, according to city documents.
Noise monitors would prohibit rentals from being used for parties and weddings and there would also have to be a 660-foot barrier between rentals unless there was an adequate barrier such as a park or highway, according to Jordan.
Short-term rental restrictions vary, but North Las Vegas’ annual licensing fee is the most expensive in the valley.
The city of Henderson charges a $820 annual licensing fee and the city of Las Vegas charges a $500 annual licensing fee. In Clark County, short-term rentals are illegal and civil penalties are assessed at $1,000 per day.
Most short-term rentals make on average $36,000 a year and in Henderson there are some properties that make $18,000 a month, according to Jordan.
Criticism of the rules
A couple of callers said the city shouldn’t impose restrictions during a pandemic when some people maybe renting out a room to make an extra buck.
One caller said he opposed the separation rule on the basis that it could prevent a resident from renting out a room if his or her neighbor was already doing so. Jordan later said the requirement is needed to make sure there aren’t pockets of rentals throughout the city.
The ordinance is important to keep North Las Vegas affordable to residents, said Councilman Isaac Barron, adding he had heard of residents being cleared out of fourplexes to make room for short-term renters.
“You can easily double or even triple your potential earnings,” Barron said. “Now it’s not that we’re getting in the way of people who are trying to make money. What we’re trying to do is preserve our community and preserve North Las Vegas as a place that people can still find quality, affordable homes to raise families in.”
Councilman Scott Black, who has been working closely with city staff on the ordinance said there were some groups in the city who supported it, others that had suggestions and another group altogether that doesn’t support it – either because they didn’t think it was strong enough or they didn’t like the market being regulated.
“I think we’ve created an ordinance that is organized and structured and creates opportunities not only to keep our neighborhoods safe and what they are intended for, but also for legal entrepreneurship and small business,” Black said.
Mayor John Lee said the ordinance will allow temporary construction workers to have a place to live while working on a job site.
“We’re not trying to compete with local businesses, but there are times when it’s a little bit better of a deal for someone to do a short-term rental with this organization than find a hotel that’s totally full and they have to go all the way up to the Strip or somewhere,” he said.
Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown said she also supported the ordinance.
“I think those that have always followed the rules will continue to do that and this is another safeguard to protect our neighbors and to protect our city,” she said.
In other news, the council also voted 4-0 to reallocate $1.97 million that would have gone into the city’s new downtown library to affordable housing and its small business loan fund. Approximately, $970,000 will go to the city’s forgivable loan program for businesses affected by the pandemic and $1 million will go towards a grant program for nonprofits to purchase buildings that will be used as affordable housing.
City staff previously determined that a fire to a building where the library was going to be, had caused too much damage and it was too expensive to repair.