False alarms to be addressed at council meeting | TahoeDailyTribune.com

False alarms to be addressed at council meeting

Michael Schneider

The South Lake Tahoe City Council meets tonight to discuss an ordinance which would change the way in which false alarm calls are handled.

“It’s gotten to the point where it takes time away from legitimate police work,” said Janet McDougall, legal analyst for the city.

She said the city’s policy has previously been to fine the residents or business owners instead of the alarm companies after a fourth false alarm in a quarter of a year.

“Some alarm companies were not telling their customers so they didn’t know if their alarms were activated,” said McDougall. “We can’t, in good conscious, fine people who didn’t know.”

The new ordinance will fine alarm companies for the costs of police actions to the bearer of the fines.

Lt. Ross Chichester of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said a similar program there has been successful.

“It cut down on false alarms a lot,” Chichester said. “It made the companies much more responsive to mechanical problems and put a financial burden on the alarm companies.”

McDougall said after six false alarms in a three month period, the offender will appear before city officials for an alarm-revocation hearing.

In other council news:

— the council will consider an amendment to an agreement between the city and K.B. Foster Civil Engineering Inc. for a study on Highway 50 street improvements.

The project, which was amended to include environmental water quality improvements, proposes new curbs and gutters for the stretch of highway between the “Y” and Ski Run Boulevard.

Tim Oliver, engineering manager for the city, said project study reports must be done and approved when a project of this nature exceeds a $300,000 price tag. He said the amendments came as a result of the study.

In addition to the new curbs and gutters, the project proposes widening the roadway by about one foot on each side to make way for a “class two bicycle trail.” Oliver said there will also be a minimum of five feet of sidewalks installed to the improved street in addition to some low-key landscaping.

Oliver said street lights are also a possibility. He said there will be spots where landscaping crews can make depressions in the area to allow water to seep into the ground instead of carrying pollutants into the Lake Tahoe.

— Also on the council agenda is a proposition to allow Willdan Associates to provide training services for the In-house Rehabilitation Specialist for the city.

Housing Coordinator Patrick Conway said the city terminated its contract with Willdan’s potential predecessor Connerly and Associates because it wasn’t satisfied with the service the company was providing.

Conway said Connerly was implementing the entire program of housing rehabilitation, but now the city wishes to handle the program in-house.

Connerly was paid about $100,000 to handle the program. Willdan will only be paid $18,500 to train displaced planning office employee Pam Atwood to work as the city’s housing rehabilitation specialist.

He said the city will end up saving about $50,000.

Conway said Atwood will work with low-income residents to provide them with low- or no-interest loans for needed home improvements. He said the loans are not for luxury items, but only to bring homes up to livable conditions.

Conway said the program, which has been operating since 1994, grants about 15 loans per year, some of which they allow for deferred payments.

— A discussion regarding a citizens group’s plans to take over the ice rink on Rufus Allen Boulevard have been postponed until Dec. 2.

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