Laws in place already to go after landlords, tenants |

Laws in place already to go after landlords, tenants

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

Though Carson City officials no longer plan to pursue the social host liability ordinance, there are rules in place that would target both property owners who allow illegal activities to occur in their dwellings and the offenders.

“We’re going to take a different approach,” District Attorney Neil Rombardo told the Board of Supervisors on Thursday. “I really think forfeiture and nuisance laws would get at it.”

The city can use existing nuisance laws to prod property owners to remove law-breaking tenants. Title 8 of the city’s municipal code allows for abatement of nuisance properties, and spells out a procedure that includes providing notice to the property owner that illegal drugs are being distributed there and administrative and judicial hearings.

It also allows the city to recover its case-related costs, Rombardo said.

“It makes the property owner take responsibility for what’s going on at his or her property,” he said.

State law allows forfeiture of real property and mobile homes when the site is used for illegal drug crimes. The city doesn’t want to become property owners themselves but would do so, if necessary, to stop crime, he said.

The district attorney’s office, sheriff’s department and code enforcement personnel will handle the procedures required with these laws.

Rombardo also said there are plans for district attorney’s offices in Carson, and Lyon and Douglas counties to jointly focus on reducing drug-related crimes, particularly meth use, sales and manufacturing. This would help reduce the number of these crimes by making it harder for offenders to move and relocate nearby.

The idea is to provide “no safe haven” within the region, Rombardo said.

An action plan for the communities to work together is still being developed.

“I really like what you just said,” Mayor Marv Teixeira.

People in real estate were unhappy with the social host ordinance’s concept of a “red tag” being attached to a home after people living in it were cited because the visual designation would stigmatize the property when it came up for resale. They were also concerned about the lack of an appeal process to have a red tag removed.

The plan to create a Social Host Liability Ordinance was introduced last November. It was modeled after other laws meant to help local governments deter repeated out-of-control gatherings at residences where underage drinking and use of illegal drugs happen.

In other business, the supervisors:

• Approved a five-year lease with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, RSVP, that would allow them to occupy 2,700 square feet of office space at the Corporate Yard, 3303 Butti Way.

• Gave the Regional Transportation Commission authority for transit operations, including contracting, and street and highway contracts that include funds other than street money, in some circumstances.

• Asked that the landscaping maintenance ordinance be fine-tuned and brought back to their April 19 meeting.

• Approved updates of the city’s planning code, including allowing the department director to approve minor project variances and changing the definition of the community/regional office/commercial zone from 50,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber or 882-2111, ext. 215.