Vacant home yards prompt complaints

Fallout from home foreclosures in Nevada is even hitting the landscaping, and the city of Las Vegas is considering a change that might make a small dent in the problem.

Councilman Steve Ross has put forward a revision to make electric service, not water service, the trigger for requiring garbage collection.

He did so after hearing property owners and homeowner associations complain about dried-up, neglected yards at vacant or abandoned homes. In some cases the association was willing to tend to the yard, but water to the property had been shut off.

Currently, homes with a water service connection are required to subscribe to garbage collection under city ordinance. With homes becoming vacant, some owners are switching off the water service so that they don’t also have to pay for garbage collection for a property that’s not generating any garbage.

Linking garbage collection to electric service instead would at least remove that incentive to switching off the water.

Of course, there’s still the incentive of not paying a water bill.

“I’m not really overly optimistic that people will keep their water on, because that costs money,” Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian said.

Still, she and Councilman Ricki Barlow voted in a council committee to forward the revision to the full City Council. It will be on a future agenda.

Nevada once again had the nation’s highest foreclosure rate in November, according to the real estate tracking service RealtyTrac. One in every 76 properties had a foreclosure filing on it — 13,962 in all.

Ross agreed the change might not make much of an impact, but said it was worth a try.

“It’s not an end-all solution,” Ross said. “We may have to revisit it. It may be just a Band-Aid, but I still think that it’s the right thing to do.”

Contact reporter Alan Choate at achoate@reviewjournal.com or 702-229-6435.

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