Health department finds motel an immediate threat to public |

Health department finds motel an immediate threat to public

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer

If the Fire Department hadn’t done so, Carson City health inspectors could have shut down the Downtowner Motor Inn based on their findings from Wednesday’s investigation, an official said Thursday.

In a letter to owner Ralph Ahmad, senior environmental health specialist Paul Dalka chronicled 24 “critical violations,” that would have warranted closing the motel at Washington and Carson streets.

Dalka said Thursday a “critical violation,” is one that poses an immediate threat to public health and safety.

Among the violations noted in some or all of the 28 rooms for rent, Dalka found:

n Evidence of sewage overflowing from shower into living areas.

n Sinks and bathtubs do not drain.

n Asbestos flaking from ceilings.

n Mold accumulation on walls, floors and ceilings.

n Debris stored next to hot-water heaters, including bedding and paper products.

n Obnoxious or offensive odors in every room inspected.

n Some sheetrock, floors and carpeting appear to be contaminated with sewage.

n Several windows broken or lacking screens.

n Doors and air conditioners lack proper construction to prohibit outside air, rodents or insects from entering.

n Garbage overflowing from Dumpster at rear of building and adjacent to office.

“In order to correct the above violations, you must obtain a licensed contractor certified to assess the extent of contamination/damage and to perform necessary repairs,” Dalka wrote. “All critical violations must be corrected and inspected prior to building occupancy.”

Some 34 tenants were told the hotel was condemned Wednesday after fire officials found code violations of their own.

According to their findings, some rooms did not have fire detectors and those fire detectors found did not work. There were not enough fire extinguishers and those present needed to be serviced.

Storage under both stairwells was combustible and laundry and other combustibles blocked the laundry room doors so there was “roughly less than a foot to squeeze in or out of the laundry rooms.”

Investigators also noted electrical-outlet and junction-box covers were missing or not labeled and spliced wiring was visible.

For Sheriff Kenny Furlong, the closure of the motel is a relief, he said.

Sheriff’s Department records show deputies made 100 calls to the inn between January and June of 2004 – a majority of them drug related.

On Thursday, as a deputy was passing by the supposed vacant building, he spotted a teen knocking on an upstairs door. Deputy Brian Humphrey said when he made contact with the teen he found another 17-year-old sleeping in one of the rooms, and three teenage girls hiding in the bathroom. One teen was cited for possession of a marijuana bong and the mother to whom the room was initially rented was cited for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.

Furlong said the motel’s reputation has been tainted for years, but since November when a teenage boy running from police accidentally shot himself jumping a fence at the motel, his department has made every attempt to meet with the owner and work out a plan to clean up the 42-year-old motel in downtown Carson City. Furlong said Ahmad didn’t respond.

On Wednesday, Ahmad said he never received any requests for a meeting and never got an official word, though he’d heard rumors that city leaders thought his business was a blight.

“I never even got a warning,” he said.

Violations noted by the building inspectors were not available.

Management on Thursday posted “No trespassing” signs on the property. Furlong said his department will enforce that and anyone found on the property could be arrested or cited.

During the Board of Supervisor’s Meeting on Thursday morning, Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira said he was happy about the closure of the Downtowner, which sits next door to the Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada.

“This will send a message that we’re not the kind of grungy, tacky community that will tolerate that kind of operation.”

– Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.

Downtowner status

City officials have given tenants until this morning to clear out their belongings. Today, Animal Control and Health Department officials will return to the motel to collect pets left in the rooms.

If tenants are having a difficult time finding a place to keep their pets during the transition into a new place, Animal Control Supervisor Pat Wiggins said to call his department for help at 887-2171.