Is Las Vegas ready to require affordable housing from developers? | Nevada Current

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

 

By Dana Gentry, Nevada Current

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. 

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.