Salisbury Talking ‘Three Strikes’ Bill

SALISBURY – Known as “Three Strikes,” the third piece of legislation of Mayor Jim Ireton’s proposed Safe Streets program was discussed this week during the City Council’s work session on Tuesday afternoon.

The ordinance seeks to recover the cost associated with rental properties that require repeated response by the Salisbury Police Department (SPD) or the Department of Neighborhood Services and Code Compliance (NSCC).

The city enacted an ordinance to require the licensing of landlords and the registration of rental properties located within Salisbury. It has been documented and brought to the attention of the council that certain rental properties require repeat responses by law enforcement and code enforcement.

“This particular piece of legislation is designed to have an impact on repeat offenders,” NCSS Director Tom Stevenson said. “The mayor’s office along with the department heads sat down and decided the best way to approach this was to look at it from both ways, from a law enforcement perspective and code enforcement perspective, so this piece of legislation basically ties the two together.”

Stevenson explained that “Three Strikes” sets up a plan for property owners to follow in order to bring repeat offenders into compliance. After three calls for service in a 12-month period between the SPD and NSCC, the property will be put on notice. Following the fourth call for service, the property will be fined $100 and be determined as a disorderly property. After the fifth call for service, the property owner will be required to submit a written management plan and be fined $250. The sixth call for service will result in a $500 fine and the property’s rental registration will be suspended, revoked, or denied for up to a year.

Police Chief Barbara Duncan said that communication efforts are underway between SPD and NCSS.

For example, following several no trespassing arrests on a problem property on the west side of town NCSS underwent the measures of determining the property abandoned and property owners have been identified.

“That is just a small example of a positive aspect of meshing it all together,” Duncan said.

Through discussion, the City Council submitted several questions for City Attorney Mark Tilghman to review concerning the proposed legislation. Council President Terry Cohen said further discussion will be scheduled for follow up at another work session.

“If you keep law enforcement separate from code enforcement in regards to the rental property issue than we have missed the opportunity to take advantage of the leverage that this legislation provides,” Stevenson said. “This is what the industry has been asking us for … take care of that 10 percent, or whatever the number is, and deal with the repeat offenders together.”