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Jan 28, 2019

Welcome to our new series - What The? We answer over 96,000 questions every year on social media. That’s a lot. This short-form series will tackle some of our most frequently asked questions. In Episode 10, we wonder who decides whether or not to put up a traffic light? Can I get one in the intersection near my house? We also talk about building permits. Do you need a building permit to change out a ceiling fan? Listen and find out. Starring Shane Savanapridi and Jennifer Davies. Find us on social media @cityoflasvegas and #VegasTMI to give us feed back and high-fives.

Listen and find out or keep reading below.

Why isn't there a traffic light in an area that you think needs it? 

What the ?!?! is up with WHY a busy intersection doesn’t have a traffic light? We’ve all been there. Backed up at a 2 or 4 way stop, wondering when a traffic light is going to be put in to help get traffic through the intersection faster.

Well, here’s the deal. We actually have nine federal guidelines that must be met before we can put a traffic light in. First of all, we do vehicle and pedestrian counts at the intersection. But we also look at other things like how close the intersection is to another traffic light, traffic flow, the speed limit and overall safety.

Residents may also not realize that we actually have a master plan for traffic lights that we THINK will be needed in the future. Our engineers also look at this to help determine whether one is needed.

But, of course, things come up that can completely change the need for one. Maybe a Costco opens or a new casino or residential neighborhood. If a business opens that is going to cause a lot of traffic, here’s looking at you Costco!, we will often times ask the business to pay for the installation of a traffic light to help keep traffic moving in the area. Once the light is installed and we’ve inspected it, they will turn it over to us to run.

The city has hundreds upon hundreds of stop lights and our team estimates that we turn on at least 10 a year, if not more.

But to answer WHY your intersection may not have one, it may be because it just isn’t needed for one of the reasons we mentioned. But I know as a driver, most people are really bad at four way stops. Don’t forget that the first car to arrive has the right away; if you arrive at the same time, the car to your right always has the right of way.

And don’t forget to pay attention to the intersection before it’s your turn so you’re aware of who’s turn it is. You can always ask our team to evaluate an intersection that you think needs a stop light by calling 702-229-6327.

Do you have to have a permit for that home improvement project? 

People are always surprised to hear about what they need a permit for. This can vary by where you live so it’s always best to check that out first at lasvegasnevada.gov/citylimits. IF you live in the city, you’ll need permits for stuff like water heater installations, building a shed and even installing a ceiling fan.

And it can seem annoying that we require these inspections on otherwise simple installations. But safety is the number one reason you need a permit. Building Codes are minimum standards to protect the public and by obtaining a permit, the project will be inspected to make sure that your water heater doesn’t explode or leak or do something else horrible.

It’s always challenging to help educate residents about when they need a permit. A good rule of thumb is that permits are usually required if you’re making a structural or electrical change to your house because doing it wrong could have serious safety implications. But even with the confusion, we still issue a TON every year. Already this year in 2018, we have issued more than 23,000.

Permits also guarantee that the repairs are made safely and correctly as projects are inspected to ensure the minimum safety standards are met. This is especially helpful if you’re going to sell your home because there is a chance it won’t pass the inspection if you’ve done work without a permit.

Building without a permit can also nullify your home insurance in certain cases so it’s definitely something you want to take seriously.

And we’ve made things easier over the years. You can apply for many of our permits online or even right inside the retailer stores like Home Depot.

IF someone in your neighborhood is doing something without a permit and you have concerns, our Code Enforcement team can investigate. It might seem unkind to call about something but it can jeopardize the safety of the neighborhood if something is done when the proper precautions have not been taken.

We also have an amnesty program so if we’ve motivated you to get some work inspected that you didn’t before, you can call our team. If you don’t self-report, fines can easily be at least double what the permit would have cost so it’s better to just do the leg work up front AND, you know, make sure your water heater isn’t going to explode in your garage.

Thankfully, our team is there to help. You can head to the Development Services Center near the 95 and Rancho to ask questions or call (702) 229–6251.