Metro Council Approves Changes to Public Nuisance Ordinance to Deal with Problem Establishments
Louisville – In unanimous vote, The Louisville Metro Council has approved changes to the city’s public nuisance ordinance that crackdown on criminal activity at hotels and motels and holds the owner of the establishment liable for repeated police visits and arrests on the property.
Under the new ordinance, hotels and motels could face closure if nothing is done about criminal activity.
“I want to thank the members of the Metro Council for moving this legislation forward,” said Councilman Steve Magre (D-10) the chief sponsor of the changes. “These changes, if Metro Government follows through with enforcement will go a long way in giving LMPD and Code Enforcement the tools they need to crack down on many problem hotels and motels that neighborhoods in our city have had to deal with for too long.”
The ordinance sets out guidelines for citing hotels and motels for more than five arrests or citations at facilities with 100 or more rooms in a period of 60 days. It differentiates between hotels and apartment complexes. It does allow for law enforcement and code regulation to cite individual units that are problems in apartments or condominiums.
The measure was approved by the Metro Council’s Public Safety Committee on Monday. The Greater Louisville Hotel and Lodging Association work with Magre and gave its endorsement of the changes as well.
“Anytime we pass an ordinance to protect the public, we must make sure it does what it is intended to do,” said Councilman David Yates (D-25), who chairs the Public Safety Committee. “I believe we have a good piece of legislation that will protect the public and I want to thank Councilman Magre for his willingness to work with all the parties to ensure that goal is achieved.”
The ordinance also adds new definitions to the term nuisance including murder, assaults and trafficking in synthetic controlled substance. The latter offense is becoming a growing problem in Metro Louisville.
“This ordinance is a starting point for law enforcement to deal with what is becoming a serious danger to our children. It needs to be enforced. Providing better tools that our police officers can use to better protect our children is essential to the Public Safety of our community,” said Councilman David James (D-6) who included synthetic drugs into the changes.
“I am supportive anytime we can add a tool to help Code Enforcement and LMPD clean up establishments that have become a public nuisance and address loop holes in existing law that have allowed these issues to worsen over time,” said Councilman James Peden (R-23), who is Vice Chair of the Public Safety Committee.
Key provisions of the Public Nuisance Ordinance
Revising the existing ordinance to make it more effective rather than starting over.
Amends or adds the following definitions:
Hotel: A building or structure kept, used advertised or held out to the public as a place where sleeping accommodations are furnished to the public, and includes motels, tourist homes and similar establishment. Excludes boarding houses and rooming houses.
Person: Corporations, Partnerships, Trustee, Lessee, agent, assignees or other groups acting as a unit.
Premises: Building structure, parking lot, parcel of land, common area, driveway, open spaces or any portion of the grounds.
Adds murder and assaults to offenses constituting a nuisance.
Adds trafficking in synthetic controlled substance, trafficking in criminal simulation, and trafficking/manufacturing drug paraphernalia to the definition of criminal activity as a public nuisance.
Strikes current law that states a property owner has a legitimate defense if the persons cited were not the owner, employees, agent or lessees of the property owner.
Other key points:
Criminal activity is redefined to include hotels; at least 5 occasions per 100 rooms or units in the preceding 60 days constitutes criminal activity as a public nuisance.
Distinguishes between hotels/motels versus apartment buildings for scope of closure order.
The distinction between apartment/condos versus hotels/motels has an enforcement trigger: more than one in 12 months with closure limited to the subject unit(s) for apts. versus 5 events per 100 rooms in 60 days with potential to close entire facility
The owner of the property can appeal any action to the Property Maintenance /Nuisance Code Hearing Board.