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Council still mulling STR bill

The contentious issue of short-term rentals in Boulder City took another detour this week as a set of bills introduced previously were pulled from the agenda for the meeting scheduled for Nov. 28.

The issue has consumed a lot of time and attention with the city sponsoring an online survey about STRs and a town-hall style meeting with city staff. On Sept. 21, there was a special meeting of the city council devoted to the issue that lasted more than three hours.

Feelings of local residents about the issue largely depend on who you ask. In the online survey, respondents were split fairly evenly with a small majority favoring an outright ban or stringent restrictions that would make operating an STR close to impossible. Mandating, for example, that the person renting the home had to also live in it. While this would leave open the possibility of renting out a portion of a house, it would preclude renting out an entire home, which is the most common scenario in Boulder City.

But, at that special meeting, two council members reported that they had done their own informal surveys and that 90% of those they asked were opposed to STRs operating in the city. In the end, the council voted 4-1, with Councilmember Matt Fox opposed, to continue the current prohibition on STRs.

In most other Nevada municipalities, state law requires that officials develop rules to regulate and allow STRs. But, as a member of the state Senate in 2021, then senator and now Boulder City mayor Joe Hardy shepherded in an exception to AB383 which allowed jurisdictions with a population of less than 25,000 to prohibit STRs. During that meeting, Hardy said, “It’s my fault. AB383, during the legislative session in 2021, this bill came up and I had the opportunity to amend the bill so that it would not apply to Boulder City. So my district could have their autonomy to do what they wanted to do. I do not want Clark County or another municipality or somewhere else in the state being in control of what we do in Boulder City.”

While STRs are not currently the subject of a city law outlawing them, they are still technically prohibited. Title 11 of the city code says that any property usage that is not specifically permitted is prohibited and STRs are not, by code, a permitted use. This has not stopped about 20 property owners in Boulder City from doing business as STR hosts. Some owners have reported that they bought property specifically to use it as an STR and some own multiple STR properties in BC.

After the council voted in September not to amend Title 11 in order to allow STRs, a proposal was placed by city staff before the Planning Commission to make some amendments to Title 11 that would add STRs to a list of about a dozen property usages that are specifically prohibited for residential properties. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the city council adopt amendments to Title 11 that would both officially define an STR and add them to a list of prohibited uses as well as defining them as a public nuisance and setting up a possible future action that might result in a schedule of fines for property owners found out of compliance on this issue.

In the meeting of the City Council on Nov. 14, a proposed bill that would adopt the recommendations of the Planning Commission was introduced. Introduction of a bill is a requirement under open-meeting laws. The introduction is just a reading of the title and purpose of the bill along with notice that the issue will be discussed and public comment solicited at the next meeting of the council.

That would have meant that Bill 2009 clarifying the prohibition on STRs would have been discussed at the meeting scheduled for Nov. 28. However, staff determined that more time was needed. According to City Manager Taylour Tedder, staff “needs additional time to work on associated fee and fine resolutions necessary to effectuate the purpose” of the bill. (Also removed from the agenda for the upcoming meeting was a bill that would have addressed pet breeding in Boulder City. It will also be considered at a future meeting.)

According to a city spokesperson, staff has determined that a business impact study should be done before moving forward on either bill. Such a study can take around 90 days. While the amount of time that will be needed for this study was not known, the spokesperson said that the consideration of the two bills would happen sometime in the early part of 2024.

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