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Juneau considers fines to deal with problem properties

May 23, 2019

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Juneau is considering a plan to fine residents at homes requiring an excessive number of police calls, officials said.

A Juneau Police Department official outlined the plan for the Juneau Assembly on Monday, KTOO-FM reported Tuesday.

A state law enables the city to fine owners of properties that have been the subject of large numbers of police calls within a certain time frame, police said.

Police spend a disproportionate amount of resources on a small number of properties where frequent calls for issues such as domestic violence or child neglect occur, said Juneau Police Department Lt. Jeremy Weske. Those types of responses, as well as sexual assault, are typically excluded from this type of ordinance.

“Where before neighbors may have just felt like it was something that they had to put up with, I think now we’re seeing that people are trying to push back and take their neighborhood back, and I don’t blame them for it,” Weske said.

The proposal suggests a $400 fine for every police visit after a property exceeds criteria set by the city.

Safeguards would be established to prevent abuse of the fine system by landlords or vindictive neighbors, Weske said.

City Manager Rorie Watt cited examples of problematic downtown properties, including one the city demolished after deeming it a public nuisance.

“I think economic pressure on that ownership group would have helped move to speedier resolution of a responsible party taking charge of those properties,” Watt said.

The assembly asked Weske to work with city staff to draft an ordinance outlining the number and type of police responses and specific consequences to bring to a future meeting.

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A previous version of this story stated that police calls for domestic violence and child neglect would be included in the chronic nuisance property designation. Those types of responses, as well as sexual assault, are typically excluded from this type of ordinance.

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Information from: KTOO-FM, http://www.ktoo.org

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