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In Clark County, Nev., which encompasses Las Vegas, the minimum distance required between the back of a single-family home and its rear property line is 20 feet. That requirement can shrink to 15 feet in areas zoned for denser housing. County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani recently announced forming a committee to explore increasing the minimum size of backyards for newly constructed homes in the unincorporated county.

“We have created problems in neighborhoods by not making them friendly to the families that have to buy there,” she says. “I think it’s absolutely key. You have to have a safe space for kids where parents know where they’re at but they can enjoy the outdoors.”

The Southern Nevada Home Builders Association isn't on board with the plan. Executive director Nat Hodgson said, “with increased costs of land, so many families already priced out of the market, and the push to reducing water usage for landscaping, we’re concerned this proposal might do more harm than good.”

Pardee Homes Las Vegas Division President Klif Andrews said increasing the size of a lot by adding 10 feet to the length of its backyard could raise a home’s price by $12,000 to $15,000. “Something has to give,” Andrews said. “Either the house has to get smaller or the lot has to get bigger. If the lot gets bigger then it certainly will cost more money.”

Urban and suburban sprawl is another thing commissioners should consider, according to Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West at UNLV. UNLV forecasts that the county will grow by more than 300,000 people in the next 10 years, but the mountain ranges surrounding the Las Vegas Valley aren’t going to budge.

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