New Spokane ordinance could help police crack down on nuisance properties

New Spokane ordinance could help police crack down on nuisance properties

The Spokane City Council is working on a new ordinance that could soon make it much easier for police and the city to crack down on nuisance properties.

Michael Paul has lived in his north Spokane home for the better part of a decade. He’s seen the the area change during the time he’s been there, mostly for the better and sometimes for the worse.

Paul says when a young couple moved in across the street they seemed like decent folks but when things went south in their relationship, things went south in the house as well. Police responded to the nuisance home more than 60 times last year.

“Fighting in the street. Obvious deals going down. Stolen vehicles,” Paul said, highlighting a few of the problems form the problem property.

After dozens of calls to Crime Check and 911 Paul and his persistent neighbors were able to get the home abated in just a few months.

“The children are able to play on the streets again and there was a time when the children could not play on the streets and it’s nice to see them back out,” he said.

A new city ordinance could give residents like Paul and his neighbors a tool to make shutting down dangerous homes like the one across from his house easier. The ordinance changes the definition of “chronic nuisance property” to include homes that have three nuisance activities in 60 days or seven within 12 months. It also adds several violations, like containers a child could suffocate in, and crimes like identity theft to the list of nuisance activities.

The ordinance also sets up a penalty system, giving a warning and allowing a resident to create a plan to clean up their property. Paul says if this ordinance makes shutting down nuisance homes easier he’s all for it.

“I’d like other people to have the same success that we had in a timely fashion that we were able to experience,” he said.

The ordinance has been reviewed by the police department and neighborhood services and is scheduled for a final reading and public hearing before the city council on June 6.