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Clark County commissioner vows crackdown on derelict properties

Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Monday vowed to hold owners of dilapidated properties accountable as part of a crackdown on neighborhood blight.

Standing in front of a fire-damaged, boarded-up two-story apartment building on Calcaterra Circle in the Palos Verdes neighborhood, Segerblom said he was committed to intensifying the pressure on neglectful owners to assume responsibility for derelict buildings or face citations, fines and costly abatements.

“The county is entering a new phase,” he said. “We’re not going to tolerate this kind of development and the lack of development, and we’re not going to let buildings like this lapse. It destroys neighborhoods.”

Located in Segerblom’s District E, northeast of the intersection of Paradise and Flamingo roads, the Palos Verdes neighborhood may have been the focal point for his call to owners to keep properties up to code and well-maintained. But he assured that attention will extend broadly “one neighborhood at a time” to older parts of the Las Vegas Valley.

A Review-Journal investigation in November found that fire safety in the valley’s urban core had been left behind, with most deadly fires clustered in areas with older homes and apartments where current safety measures like sprinklers and interconnected smoke alarms are not required. The series highlighted a string of fires — some deadly — at the Solaire Apartments in Segerblom’s district, about 3 miles north of where he spoke to reporters Monday.

RJ series highlighted the issue

Segerblom said the investigation “certainly played a part” in the renewed effort to hold property owners accountable: “The closer I looked, the more I realized this is just an embarrassment,” he said.

In the Palos Verdes neighborhood, there are more than 70 two-story apartment buildings like the Solaire within a series of cul-de-sacs. During a joint inspection of the neighborhood on March 20, local agencies discovered nearly 200 violations including a lack of fire extinguishers, graffiti and people living in dumpster enclosures, county officials said.

The county’s Public Response Office, which enforces property maintenance codes, issued 56 citations, according to county spokesman Dan Kulin.

“There’s no real reason that this neighborhood, as close as it is to the Strip, should not be a model neighborhood as opposed to a slum,” Segerblom said. “It’s unacceptable this day and age.”

To be clear, some properties on Calcaterra Circle have been renovated, and Segerblom pledged to continue working with other owners throughout the neighborhood who also seek to improve their buildings for tenants.

But ultimately, he added, Palos Verdes stood as a neighborhood in transition, with unresponsive out-of-state landlords compounding a problem that county officials say needs a change in approach to mitigate.

Fix the problems, or the county will

Segerblom said he has requested more code officers and that the county was in the process of strengthening its ordinance governing property maintenance. And while he noted that ignored orders to fix up troubled properties will result in county code officers swooping in to perform the work at a “hell of a bill” to the owner, the preferred idea is to push owners to assume the upkeep and restoration on their own.

“So we’re slowing our process down and issuing citations to try to get their attention to say, ‘Look, you own this property; it’s your responsibility to maintain it, not the county’s,’ and so that’s kind of the shifting in gears,” said Jim Andersen, the county’s chief code enforcement official.

Adopted in May 2018, administrative citation fines penalize owners $100 per violation per day for a first offense, and ratchets up to $500 per violation per day for a third offense, according to county documents.

Officials said they have issued about 70 citations per month in the county since October.

The Public Response Office addresses about 20,000 complaints yearly for issues such as excessive trash and debris on properties, unsecured and abandoned buildings and graffiti, officials said.

Most property owners, they added, will correct code violations after being alerted to the problem. Otherwise, the county may issue fines or citations and has the authority to correct outstanding issues and levy a lien on the property to recoup the cost of abatement.

In 2018, the county did work to fix up 275 properties at a cost of $438,000, officials said.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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