Fee targets property owners for excessive police calls

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Anchorage Assembly has approved a measure that gives police the power to impose a $500 fee when officers have to make repeated visits to residences.

The measure, which the Assembly approved Tuesday 10-1, is aimed at landlords who let residential properties be used for drug dealing and other criminal activities.

The hope is that the new law will be used sparingly, not to generate fees for the police, but to inspire landlords to clean up their mess instead of leaving it as a neighborhood blight, said Assemblyman Allan Tesche, who sponsored the ordinance.

''Pay attention to your tenants and visit the place once in awhile,'' Tesche urged landlords.

Under the ordinance, when a residential property in Anchorage receives eight police visits in a calendar year, the police could then send the owner of the property a warning, saying the problems need to be addressed within 30 days.

If the owner fails to do so, police would have the option of charging $500 for each additional visit.

Calls for potential child neglect, domestic violence or stalking do not count under the ordinance. Nor do police calls that turn out to be false alarms.

The measure stems from a state law passed earlier this year, sponsored by East Anchorage Democratic Rep. Gretchen Guess, to give Alaska's local governments the option of charging a fee for excessive police visits to properties. In addition, the state's landlord-tenant act was amended to make evictions easier in the case of excessive police calls, Tesche said.

Tesche said the fee amount of $500 is based on what it costs for an average police response to a call, including dispatch, paperwork and related efforts.

Anchorage Deputy Police Chief Mark Mew has said the ordinance ''could be a very good tool for the Police Department.'' Mew could not provide the Assembly with statistics on how many residences in town might be affected, but said that, anecdotally, police know that repeat visits to certain properties are a problem.

Anchorage Assemblyman Dan Sullivan, who voted against the measure, has questioned making the landlord pay for the problems instead of the tenants.

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