Lakemill Closed After Inspections

Reno officials shut down the west tower of the Lakemill Lodge following a two-day sweep of the downtown motel that led to numerous arrests and citations for safety violations. Tuesday afternoon a second sweep will close down the east tower.

Nineteen people were arrested for various drug and other offenses during the effort that began with a police raid on Sunday.

On Monday, fire and building inspectors as well as outreach workers returned to the site.

About 115 people in 75 rooms of the west tower of the motel were
moved to other lodging.

Reno police also issued six citations and Washoe County Animal Control officers issued nine for unlicensed pets, said Steve Frady,
spokesman for the Reno police and fire departments. Four dogs were
impounded after their owners were arrested.

The east tower of Lakemill Lodge will close at the end of the week. Numerous safety violations were discovered Monday at the 138-room lodge as law enforcement agencies and city inspectors continued a sweep of the downtown Reno motel.

Mayor Bob Cashell suggested closing the lodge.

"Let's look at jerking their business license, if we've had enough complaints," Cashell told police Chief Mike Poehlman after a city council agenda review meeting.

Owners have 30 days to comply with codes. Before occupancy is permitted, the owners must repair or replace smoke detectors, repair or replace illuminated emergency exit signs, service fire hose cabinets, service fire extinguishers, re-certify the fire sprinkler system and remove items in storage areas could that fuel a fire.

Alleged code violations found Monday included structure additions and alterations made without permits, hazardous electrical connections, leaking sewage in the garage and junk vehicles on the property, Frady said.

He said inspectors also found inadequate plumbing in some rooms and wall heaters installed without permits.

Fire inspectors found non-functioning and missing smoke detectors, windows that wouldn't open, illuminated exit signs not working and extinguishers in need of service, Frady said.

The police Motel Interdiction Team started the crackdown Sunday, looking for fugitives and criminal activity at the motel.

"We've had two homicides here the last year," Officer Kevin Barnes said Sunday. "There is an increase in calls for service, drug sales are prevalent, more drug addicts are coming here, the management just isn't handling who is coming and going."

Manager Kenwal Brar said the motel's reputation as a haven for criminals and drug addicts is not fair. He said most of the police calls for service were related to the Lamplighter Lounge, now closed, which shared the motel's bottom floor.

Brar said safety improvements have been made to the motel in the past six months, including 24-hour video surveillance. He said the motel now only rents to people who are employed and show work badges.
If someone's son comes over to visit, and he is using or selling drugs, how are we supposed to know that?" Brar asked. "To say this is where criminals live would be unfair to all the people who have lived here for years and paid their rent who aren't involved in crime."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)