East Fourth Street Motel Gets Surprise Visit

Officials from several local agencies swept into an East Fourth Street motel Wednesday morning.

Desert Sunset Motel

RENO, NV - Officials from several local agencies swept into an East Fourth Street motel Wednesday morning.

The Desert Sunset Motel had shown up on the city's radar screen after an increased number of calls to the code enforcement office and police.

So, along with the building department, county health and the U-S Marshals they arrived this morning in force.

They came expecting to find problems.

"What we try to do is insure that the owners of these motels are aware there are certain minimum standards that are required within the city of Reno," says Alex Woodley, the city's chief Code Enforcement official.

And the Desert Sunset was found wanting on a number of points.One tenant who was being evicted and admitted to a history of conflict with the motel's management described problems with bedbugs and mold.

"They gave him a list of things to do and for two years now he hasn't followed that list at all," she claimed.

There was no lack of problems. Health Department officials told us they found dirty carpets and bedding.

Code Enforcement found problems with the building itself.

"We found problems with the plumbing, the electrical system, said inspector Rob Rice.

One room was shut down because of electrical problems

And during the search U-S Marshals found 2 residents with outstanding warrants, one for burglary, the other for failure to comply. Reno police made two arrests, for not being registered tenants and prescription drug violations.

These inspections can have serious consequences. City officials closed another motel across the street this past summer for serious safety violations. The Ponderosa Motel remains shuttered today, notices posted on its doors that it's unsafe for occupancy.

They didn't find those kinds of problem at the Desert Sunset.

"We've seen worse and we've seen better," says Woodley.

Still, owner Khalid Ali will be given a list of needed repairs and improvements. He says just like his tenants he's trying to survive in a bad economy and a depressed part of town.

"The bottom line is you cannot get blood out of the turnip," he says. "It's a low income neighborhood and we're trying to survive."

But Ali says he will comply though he says in an economy when even large hotel casinos are struggling, the small motel owner finds it even more difficult to make money and meet the city's requirements.

"It's an extra burden for us."

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