Meth contamination in hotel leads to wider city discussion on dealing with drug callsApr 15, 2021 09:51AM ● By Erin Dixon
Midvale City Council meetings are still held electronically. Council and staff discuss recent meth contamination. (YouTube screenshot)
By Erin Dixon | [email protected]
In late February, Unified Police Department (UPD) responded to three incidents of meth contamination in a Midvale hotel. During a Midvale City Council meeting in early March, council and staff discussed the incidents.
Councilmember Bryant Brown was concerned that while so many rooms closed in a single hotel, the rest of the hotel rooms were still open. “When can we move in to shut down a hotel that has multiple contaminations?” Brown asked.
“I don’t disagree,” UPD Midvale precinct Chief Randy Thomas said. “Obviously, there’s a physical makeup of the hotel where they have exterior halls and no adjoining rooms. That’s really up to the health department and how far they want to shut it down.”
“I agree this is a big problem…,” Assistant City Manager Matt Dahl said. “The problem is we don’t close down an entire apartment building if we have meth. It’s a problem, and we need it to be equitable across the different use types.”
“In order for every room in a hotel to shut down due to meth contamination would be if someone smoked meth in every room,” Gabriel Moreno, spokesperson for Salt Lake County Health Department, told the City Journals. “Or, if the whole hotel uses a single HVAC system for all rooms (normally, each room/unit, has its own HVAC system, so the contamination does not spread to other rooms).”
Brown also suggested in the meeting that it seems unfair to residents that would face steeper consequences for code and contamination infractions.
“If I were to build a carport out of city compliance the city can put a non-conforming lien on my property, make it impossible to refinance or sell or even get fined…,” Brown said.
“Just losing three doors to a hotel because of the health department with no repercussions from the city seems inequitable with the penalties we put on our citizens and our businesses,” he said.
There are some ideas to change how the city deals with drug calls.
“We have been looking at ways of looking at businesses that are requiring a significant amount of safety resources. Lt. Malone is working on a proposed nuisance ordinance,” Thomas said. “It would be really great if we had more teeth.”