Monday, November 23, 2009

Back From Vegas...

Well, I'm back from one of the most, er, unique places in the country--Las Vegas, Nevada.  Now, I've been there several times before but this is the first time that I very intentionally wandered up and down the Strip considering land use issues.

I looked at setbacks, building heights, signage and listened to the sounds and noise emanating from nearly every angle.  Needless to say, it was a bit overwhelming in its uniqueness. 

While I haven't spent much time looking at the relevant land use codes (I do know that most of the area known as the Strip is actually regulated in the county rather than the city of Las Vegas), I suspect that it is the most diverse land use codes in the country (and quite possibly in the history of mankind).

After all, some buildings have zero setbacks while others have ones in excess of a hundred feet--in several instances, nearly adjacent to each other.  You have buildings from over 30 stories to less than 3 on the same block.  Talk about form-based coding diversity!

Then, you have some very curious situations such as the juxtaposition of MGM Mirage's City Center, the under development Cosmopolitan resort and this little place called the Jockey Club.  The Jockey Club appears to be some type of circa 1980s apartment/time share structure.

What makes it curious is that it is nearly completely surrounded and towered over by City Center and the Cosmopolitan.  This whole set-up probably made several attorneys and surveyors rich drafting the easements as the ingress and egress and overhangs and setbacks seem to turn on a matter of feet, if not inches.  For some images of the set-up, click here, here, here, and here.

And, if the physical site was not complex enough, the business issues facing the Cosmopolitan add into the drama.

Anyhow, hopefully Ngai Pindell will have some time to expand on this situation located roughly 4 miles from where I suspect his land use and property classes meet. 

As someone who frequently takes my land use class on "site visits", after touring the Las Vegas Strip with an eye toward land planning and regulation, I quickly became quite envious of the many options that Prof. Pindell has nearby. 

If the Strip was an land use ecosystem, it would be the Everglades of Land Planning in many ways...

--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.

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