The City of Waterloo announces the creation of a Nuisance Property Task Force to comprehensively address storefronts/commercial properties which operate as after-hours clubs during the height of the Covid-19 shutdown. The task force is made up of law enforcement, code enforcement and the Waterloo Fire Marshal. This announcement provides violators the opportunity to correct their behaviors (or nuisance conditions) prior to official intervention.
The task force is being established in response to frequent complaints citing numerous properties throughout the city and property owners who disregard or circumvent overall public safety to their economic advantage. These actions adversely affect the quality of life in the city. Chief Joel Fitzgerald has identified specific areas where recent violence has occurred. Fitzgerald states, “These venues operate outside of the law, City Code, and have been a nexus for firearm related injuries and fatalities. Our city deserves better.”
The City of Waterloo will utilize an ‘all hands on deck’ approach utilizing the enforcement authority of multiple city departments. To address civil issues the Codes Department, Fire Department, Health Department, and City Attorney’s Office will take civil legal action against the persons involved in operating establishments in violation of city code. Those entities will use the full force of the law to help the police department shut down violent, dangerous, and illegal operations that affect our city and public health.
Fitzgerald reinforced his position stating, “I want to make it crystal clear that property owners and landlords can’t simply ignore their legal obligations to abate criminal/nuisance conduct occurring in their premises. If they turn a blind eye, facilitate it, or fail to assume responsibility because they are earning illegal proceeds while jeopardizing our community, they’ll find themselves in court facing the prospect of shuttered buildings, fines, and the loss of rental income.”
The city is committed to proactively combatting any illegal and nuisance operation after illegal activities in commercial, mixed-use, and residential after-hours establishments had a corrosive effect on the city in 2020. These problems will be addressed citywide holding property, business owners and those in control of the locations accountable. The Waterloo Police Department frequently responds to problems emanating from these and other mixed-use properties. The task force establishes stronger collaboration across city departments in addressing the many violations made by these nuisance properties.
This new strategic direction is, in some city stakeholders' minds, long-overdue. “This is not a warning, it is a promise,” continues Fitzgerald. “Everyone who is involved in the operation of after-hours clubs to make a quick buck, and who allow criminal activity to occur will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
This release forewarns violators in order to gain voluntary compliance. Residents are strongly encouraged to report property-related nuisances, illegal after-hours establishments, illegal dumping, health code violations, occupancy violations, crime, or other violations using the non-emergency (319) 291-2515. Reports should be as thorough as possible, including location, description of the issue, descriptions of offenders, etc.