Nuisance Laws, Including Lakewood’s, Punish the Victim

The Lakewood that I believe in wants our city to be a tolerant city. I believe that our community wants to be a place where people can feel welcomed, and find support, especially those who most need it.

Offering support and understanding to victims of domestic violence, under the circumstances, seems like exactly the kind of thing Lakewood stands for. Unfortunately, our city’s laws send a very different message.

Both rights activists and media have given increasing scrutiny, in recent years, to so-called nuisance abatement laws. These laws impose fines on properties, after multiple reports of “nuisance” ordinance violations on, or even near the property. In practice, landlords frequently respond by evicting tenants from these properties—even when the tenant’s only involvement in a crime is as the victim. In some cases, victims of abuse become afraid to call for help, lest the next call bring nuisance status and eviction.

Lakewood has a nuisance abatement ordinance, and unfortunately, it appears to take precisely this approach. Whatever its drafter’s intentions, our kind and caring community has a law that burdens those in danger more than it helps them.