Is Las Vegas ready to require affordable housing from developers?

Las Vegas City Councilman Cedric Crear
Las Vegas City Councilman Cedric Crear at a June council meeting. (Photo Credit: City of Las Vegas)
Las Vegas City Councilman Cedric Crear
Las Vegas City Councilman Cedric Crear at a June council meeting. (Photo Credit: City of Las Vegas)

A City of Las Vegas councilman is suggesting housing developers be required to include affordable (perhaps even low-income) units in exchange for the privilege of doing business. 

Councilman Cedric Crear on Wednesday commended city staff for recent redevelopment efforts, which focus largely on hospitality, entertainment, sports and high-end residential. 

“One of the areas I think we have not discussed is inclusionary housing,” Crear noted. “As you know there’s a housing crisis, an affordable housing crisis throughout the country and we need to figure out ways that we can potentially have set asides or some way of working with developers coming into our wards.”

The median price of a home in Las Vegas has hovered at $300,000 for the last three months, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

Crear’s ward, which includes the predominantly African-American “Westside” has been largely shut out of the city’s redevelopment efforts. 

“Cities ranging from Park City (Utah) to Washington D.C. to Santa Monica to Burlington, Vermont, all have some type of inclusionary zoning…” Crear said, suggesting the city take up the concept with the developers behind two apartment complexes downtown. 

“I think there’s still time to talk about that with Southern Land Group and Aspen to see if there’s something we can figure out with them. I don’t think the goal is to try to hurt developers and to try to limit profits but we do need to try to find opportunities for those that aren’t able to afford some of the things that we’re bringing in.” 

In May, at a ribbon-cutting for a luxury apartment complex, Crear defended the city’s focus on high-end redevelopment, but promised efforts to address affordable housing were forthcoming. 

Knudsen sworn in as councilman
Brian Knudsen (left), the first openly gay Las Vegas city councilman, is sworn in alongside his husband, Brian Eagan, and their children. (Photo by Dana Gentry)

Ward 1 Councilman Brian Knudsen, who was sworn in Wednesday along with Olivia Diaz (Ward 3) and Victoria Seaman (Ward 2), urged city staff to see “if there are any projections around what income levels will look like for those incoming folks and we’re being proactive and responsive to the housing conditions they’ll come into.” 

“We’re focused on hospitality and entertainment. We’re focused on bringing new residents to the city, particularly, into the older areas of the city,” Redevelopment Authority Director Bill Arent told the City Council Wednesday, as he delivered a report on recent efforts. “Put simply, this is a way for us to take new tax dollars from new development and appreciation on property and put them to work.”

Property owners who take part in redevelopment efforts receive tax incentives or abatements for a designated period in exchange for their investment.  

The city has two high-end residential projects underway in downtown’s prized Symphony Park and a few small renovations downtown, but no effort to provide the affordable housing needed in older wards. 

Dana Gentry
Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana is the mother of four adult children, three cats, three dogs and a cockatoo.

4 COMMENTS

  1. They’ve done that for years in California- a couple of below market rate units in a condominium project in exchange for lower fees. Bulldozing trailer parks did not make sense.

  2. So, tell me what’s affordable? $500 a month rent in an apartment complex that starts at $1000? There was low-cost housing in the past, perhaps not housing that a lot of people want to live in, but SROs, trailer parks were lower cost, weren’t they? Just not up to the standards of people wanting to force landlords to accommodate people who can’t afford the normal rent. Actually, if you provide housing for homeless you have to do it for free because they have nothing. Why did the ugly old motels and trailer parks get zoned out? Because the city wanted more upscale housing and landowners weren’t going to invest if they were told how much rent to charge. Now, you want to tell landlords how many “affordable” units they must have. You must positively dislike landlords — but what am I saying, of course you dislike landlords. Profit is a bad word, isn’t it? ROI an even worse concept.

  3. I just got my hair cut. The stylist told me she and her family recently moved because their rent went from $880 (affordable) to $1,400 (out of the question for them). The hot housing market means landlords of rental homes are succumbing to the temptation of high prices. And who can blame them?
    It’s worse for seniors. How long has it been since a federally subsidized senior housing project was built?

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