City of Reno seeks input for Motel Inspection Program

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- The City of Reno is seeking community input on the proposed Motel Inspection Program. The purpose of the program is to preserve the affordable housing units at motels while trying to ensure they are properly maintained and safe for the tenants who live there.

Alex Woodley, Customer and Code Enforcement Services Manager for the City of Reno, says the city usually only finds out about code violations and deplorable conditions at a lot of the extended stay motels when a problem is reported.

"Unfortunately, people don't call until it's just so bad," says Woodley. "So when we've gone out there, we've seen it's not just one unit because we'd inspect the entire motel and we'd find numerous violations and we'd walk away with a 10-page correction notice for the owner. So hopefully with this new program, what we'll be doing is every year, we'll be inspecting every room and we'll be providing those lists to the owners on a proactive basis every year."

The creation of the Motel Inspection Program would require amendments to Reno Municipal Code Title 4, Title 5, and Title 14. As currently drafted, some of the amendments would include not just annual inspections, but ensuring linen or laundry service, training for property owners and motel managers, and work cards for motel managers. Woodley says the city is also considering charging motels a business license fee to help pay for the program, which could cost motel owners up to $100 per unit each year. He says-- doing the math-- that shouldn't cause them to have to raise rents dramatically.

"So if they needed to raise their rent to cover those costs for them, they should be raising the rent by no more than two dollars per week," he says.

Fran Frost, who manages the White Court Motel in downtown Reno, says she plans on attending one of the public meetings.

"We have a lot of concerns and we're hoping to get some answers," she says.

Woodley says about 50 motel managers and owners showed up at the first public workshop that took place earlier this month.

"Managers unfortunately are not crazy about having this extra regulation or oversight," he says. "But the intent for the city is to make sure people have amenities, basic needs, heat, doors that actually work and lock. We're trying to take a look at taking a proactive approach in dealing with the conditions of the motels in the city."

The third public workshop is scheduled for Thursday, February 22 at City Hall. It starts at 5:30 p.m.

After the city gathers more community input, Woodley plans to bring the proposal to the City Council again in the spring. It could be implemented by the end of April. He estimates the program could cost the city $150,000 a year.