LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Culinary Union's attempt to get rent control, including capping overall rent increases annually, has failed to get enough signatures to appear on the November election ballot in North Las Vegas according to City Clerk, Jackie Rodgers.
The union had celebrated when turning in 3,396 signatures ahead of the July deadline, but Rodgers dampened that enthusiasm Monday by telling the union the petition didn't have the correct wording to be circulated and failed to meet the required number of signatures, well above what union officials believed they needed, in a letter.
The announcement left families struggling to maintain or find affordable housing with little hope for relief.
"It's ridiculous how they're doing us out here," said Tammye Randle while waiting for the bus with her boyfriend Megial Tate.
The couple said they'd been searching for an affordable apartment in North Las Vegas all day after moving from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"We've been trying to get housing, trying to get an appointment," Randle said. "But everybody is overpriced. Definitely overpriced."
The couple said they've grown progressively desperate while living on a fixed income and feared they'd run out of options, at least for the night.
"You can't even find a place to lay your head," Randle said. "We're looking at going to the shelter tonight because we haven't been able to find anything."
Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge vowed in a statement to fight the clerk's decision to prevent rent control from reaching a popular vote.
“We will not be deterred," Pappageorge said. "The Culinary Union submitted 3,396 signatures, and we are confident in their validity. The City of North Las Vegas is misreading the law as to how many signatures are required.
The Nevada State Apartment Association, representing landlords, said they have been monitoring the initiative's progress closely as many feared rent control could harm the rental industry.
"It opens up a lot of issues because it isn't tailored to the people of North Las Vegas," said executive director, Susy Vasquez.
Vasquez blamed rent hikes on the low availability of units as Southern Nevada's population continues to spike.
She said capping annual rent hikes at a proposed five percent annually could lower property values in North Las Vegas and limit a landlord's ability to effectively maintain properties exacerbating the housing crisis in the long term.
"You don't really see behind the scenes," Vasquez said. "But if you start pulling back on those you will see properties deteriorate much faster than they would if they'd been maintained all along."
Tate and Randle weren't concerned about the long term solutions for rent hikes, and called for immediate action to help people find housing.
"Somebody has to govern what's going on here, or it's just going to get out of control like it is right now," Tate said.
Pappageorge called on the North Las Vegas City Council to consider the clerk's decision against their initiative at their next meeting on August 3.