In Carson: DA wants to use code to target drugs, gangs

The Carson City District Attorney's Office wants to be able to use the city's nuisance ordinance to target drug users, gang members and abusive parents.

The city has one full-time health department officer who enforces city code, but investigators from the DA's office would help that officer by enforcing the nuisance section and give the city "another tool" to fight drugs and gangs, said District Attorney Neil Rombardo.

City supervisors are scheduled to look at the proposal Thursday.

The code enforcement officer, Kevin McCoy, does a great job, Rombardo said, but he is busy and has a lot of codes to cover. His investigators, who usually help prepare cases and witnesses for court, could also focus on "in house" cases and help cut down violations of the 2005 ordinance.

"With one officer, it's just not getting done," said Chief Deputy District Attorney Melanie Bruketta.

The office has two investigators, one full-time and one part-time.

Owners who allow drugs on their property and therefore create a nuisance can get a fine and receive a misdemeanor conviction.

The district attorney could also seize the property of repeat offenders, though owners will get several notices before anything is done, Rombardo said. The owner also can keep the property if the problem tenant is removed after a forfeiture notice is issued.

"We're not just going to willy-nilly take properties," he said.

The office has sent out about 15 forfeiture notices that led to about nine evictions since the beginning of 2007, according to Rombardo.

He said investigators will also help children living in dirty or dangerous homes by forcing the parents to bring the building up to code.

Also on the agenda:

- Supervisor Robin Williamson wants to hold the board's meetings in the evening rather than in the morning. Evening meetings would let more residents attend and get involved, according to a report by Williamson. Supervisors now meet the first and third Thursday of each month at 8:30 a.m.

- The public works department wants to charge a fee for treated sewage water, also called reclaimed water, that was approved by the board in 1996. According to the department, the charge would "impose a direct and significant economic burden" on large users such as the golf courses who use the water for their greens. The fee would cost the courses tens of thousands of dollars a year, but would also pay for the cost to provide the water to the courses.

- The public works department wants to increase water rates by 6 percent and storm water rates by 5 percent. The water rate increase would help pay for department projects and maintenance and the storm water helps daily operations and maintenance. The average resident will see a few dollar increase in the monthly bill but larger businesses such as casinos face a "significant economic burden."

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