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Downtowner gets new owner

Dave Frank
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

Long-term residents at the Downtowner Motor Inn will have to move out by the end of the month with a new motel owner who has promised to enforce city code.

The city gave David Shearer a business license for the 34-room motel at the corner of North Carson and Washington streets Wednesday on the condition he let people stay no more than a month and pay the former owner’s back taxes.

Shearer said he is meeting with property owner James Dimartino to try to prevent the foreclosure and auction of the property on Tuesday.

Dimartino and the business handling the auction, Western Title Company in Reno, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

No motels in Carson City have a special permit allowing visitors to stay over a month. This would be the first time the code has been enforced.

Former owner Ralph Ahmad’s business license for the motel was revoked in November for failing to pay room taxes. It’s the same motel he re-opened in 2007 after it was shut down by the city in 2005 under his ownership for problems including sewage in living rooms.

Ahmad also lost his license in August this year, but got it back when he paid back taxes.

Shearer said he’s paid back room taxes and, to cut down on drug use at the motel, will make visitors sign forms consenting to police room searches.

“Basically, what the city deems appropriate is what’s going to be done,” he said.

The city had planned to move residents to new homes this month after Ahmad lost his license, but City Developmental Services Director Walt Sullivan said Shearer has worked with the city to avoid that.

Residents almost had to be moved out Tuesday after the electricity was shut off for several hours because of missed utility payments, Sullivan said. The city and Shearer were able to convince NV Energy to turn it back on, however, he said.

But finding new places to live for some residents without help from the city will be difficult, said Gina Jones, who has lived at the Downtowner for a year.

She said the motel charges about $600 a month for rent, allows pets and has become a home for many.

A majority of people at the motel, especially in the winter, live at the Downtowner long-term, she said, and forcing them to leave could end up hurting the motel.

“They live off us people,” she said.

– Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.