LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Lawyers stood before North Las Vegas City Council members for hours Wednesday arguing about the meaning of specific text in Nevada's constitution and laws, and whether the City Clerk followed those statues in rejecting a rent control ballot initiative, before the council voted to end the chance of limited annual rent increases appearing for a popular vote in the November election.
The vote was 4-1 with Councilman Richard Cherico providing the lone no vote.
The council's decision to back City Clerk Jackie Rodger's analysis that the Culinary Union failed to provide enough signatures in their ballot initiative petition disappointed supporters like Jonathan Barboza.
"I walked in here knowing, well, thinking that this was going to die," Barboza said.
He said he came to city hall to support rent control because, as a college student with two jobs, he feared he'd never be able to move out of his parents house as rent costs skyrocket.
"Everybody tells you when you graduate high school, go to college, go to college, or go into a trade," Barboza said. "This is not the reality. That's not going to get you anywhere when rents are like half their income."
Barboza said he was gutted when Rodgers rejected the petition after he'd worked to collect what Culinary Union officials believed to be enough signatures to force the issue to a popular vote.
"You feel cheated," he said. "I mean, we put the work out there. We were out there in the hot blazing sun."
The crux of the argument between legal teams supporting the Culinary Union on one side, and the City of North Las Vegas and legal counsel for landlords was how the number of signatures required would be determined.
The union's counsel argued the tabulation should be based on the 2020 general election, while their opponents argued it should be based on the turnout for the more recent 2022 primary election.
"The law is black and white here as your own counsel pointed out," said attorney Todd Bice, representing property owners, "and the attacks on the Clerk are completely unwarranted and should be completely rejected."
Following the decision, many Culinary Union members called for their union to appeal to the legal system.
"On some technicality it gets canceled? That's not fair," Barboza said. "I hope to god we take it to court."
In a statement from Secretary Treasurer Ted Pappageorge, the union pledged to file a lawsuit in State District Court to overturn the council's decision.
"Today’s decision by the North Las Vegas City Council to deem the Neighborhood Stability petition insufficient is disappointing and wrong, but their decision is not final," Pappageorge wrote.
The union did not say when it would file a lawsuit.