Neighborhood nuisance: Homeowner doesn’t hide frustration with run-down vacant house
Jerry Mellow grew so tired of the problems from a vacant house across the street that, after six years, he hung a banner in his yard calling for action.
“Neighbors have complained to the city a number of times, and kids use that house for everything they shouldn’t be doing,” Mellow said.
“One morning, a man came out of the house at 8 in the morning with a beer in his hand and scared the heck out of a 60-year-old woman walking her dog,” he said.
The 9-by-31⁄2-foot banner proclaims that the house at 901 W. King St. is a “Carson City Disgrace.” It also says, “6 years and nothing has been done. Do you have one in your neighborhood? Please help by calling our city officials.”
Mellow said he tried to contact the homeowner, Rosalie Svare, who has a Stateline phone number and a South Lake Tahoe post office box, but she never returned his calls or letters.
Svare did not return phone calls from the Nevada Appeal on Friday seeking comment.
“Weeds are up to the top of the fence, and we have an ordinance to keep weeds under control,” Mellow said. “It’s just trashy. … That house is a health hazard and this is a nice neighborhood.”
Mellow said he was promised by the city in October that the issue would be handled, but no one has called him back.
Broken windows have been boarded up, but Mellow believes a tree branch fell through a sliding glass door in the back, and kids from the junior high school are going into the house.
Sheriff’s Office records show that six calls regarding juveniles have been handled at the vacant house in the past three years.
Carson City Senior Code Enforcement Officer Kevin McCoy said a number of written code violation complaints have been filed and dealt with since he took the job three years ago.
“All of those cases have been closed,” McCoy said. “We’ve been able to track down the property owner and leave her a message. In every past case, she has called back and said she would have someone take care of it, and within a few days, it was done.”
The most recent complaint, however, has been different, he said.
“This last go-round, no one has gotten back to us, so it’s an open investigation. I drove to her house at the lake yesterday to try to contact her, but couldn’t find her,” McCoy said. “We’re working with the District Attorney’s Office now to learn what our options are. We even took a representative from the District Attorney’s Office over (to the King Street house) to take a look.”
One option would be for the city to come in and knock down the weeds and then bill her, he said.
As for Mellow’s banner in a residential area, it’s not considered a violation of the city’s sign ordinance, said Carson City Planning Director Lee Plemel.
“It’s my understanding from the District Attorney’s Office that because it’s a non-commercial sign, it’s a free speech issue,” Plemel said. “It’s similar to people protesting in front of the Legislature.”
“He’s merely expressing his dissatisfaction with what he considers an injustice,” McCoy said.
“I spent $150 to have this sign made, but it was a little bigger than I expected it to be,” Mellow said.