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Property owners must clean homeless camp

Posted: 4:54 PM, Jun 06, 2016
Updated: 2016-06-07 21:51:21-04

UPDATE: On Monday, we were called out to a homeless camp that neighbors say the city officials are doing nothing about. Neighbors say this it’s a mess that's been attracting the homeless.

They had a hard time getting in touch with city workers, so our 13 Action News crew called and they came out on Monday to inspect the property.

They determined that the camp was not in the public right-of-way, but rather on private property owners. They went on to issue two citations to two separate property owners for violating city codes.

One of the properties is a vacant investment property. The owner didn't want to go on camera.

However, the other property is an apartment complex. We got in touch with that owner, Juan Mendoza.

He says the mess has been a headache and the homeless have been vandalizing the property before he even bought it. 

“It was a squatter place for a long time, my neighbor Peggy informed me that it's been going on for about a year," said Mendoza.

A few months ago, he randomly spotted two couches dumped out back.

"We assumed people still thought it was abandoned,” he says. “We actually just started renting out the properties around that time. So, it was understandable. I told my dad. The two couches that were there, we just took it to the dumpster."

The problem continued.

"After that, more and more showed up,” he says. "I really wasn't too sure what to do about it. We've been doing what we can, but they outnumber us. I do feel like the city should take some responsibility in helping us maintain that area until the message is clear to not leave your trash there."

Mendoza is shocked that it's now his responsibility to pay for someone else’s irresponsible decisions.

Both property owners are appealing the citations. A spokesman for the city of Las Vegas says he understands the frustration behind the matter, however, the city's cleaning services are funded by taxpayers.

ORIGINAL STORY

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) -- People in one valley neighborhood are fed up with a pile of dumped furniture they say has turned into a homeless camp near Sahara and East St. Louis avenues.

Homeless camps have been sprouting up across the valley all year long, but rarely do you see them less than 10 feet from single-family homes.
 
"People have been in my backyard," said neighbor Cylinda Smith. "Have taken chairs out of my yard and set them in the front here like they were just sitting on them. It's disturbing to think someone has been going through my things."
 
Jerry and Cylinda Smith say this pile-up began as trash about two months ago, but has since become a dumping ground for unwanted furniture.
 
"People come by and throw cigarettes and it starts a fire right away," Jerry says.
 
Cylinda says, "It was so bad, we actually had to call the fire department in and it took them a good long time to get the fire out."
 
When the dump is not on fire, the say the homeless take advantage in more ways than you'd think.
 
"They have sex underneath the couches," Cylinda says. "It's daytime, night time, there are a lot of children in this area. So, you know, that's kind of disturbing."
 
The Smiths made their first official complaint with firefighters who came to the scene weeks ago when a mattress caught on fire. They expected the department to take care of the issue altogether, but the couple says they left the rest of the furniture behind. Since then, they've called the city of Las Vegas repeatedly asking that they finish the job.
 
"Hopefully, they see this and someone contacts them and they come and take care of it."
 
Our 13 Action News crew called city officials Monday afternoon and they said they will inspect the pile-up within 48 hours.
 
However, the pile-up has to be in the public right-of-way in order for the city to take action. It can't be on private property.
 
Code enforcement has cited the people who dumped the furniture.