116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The city of Cedar Rapids is suspending a landlord’s rental permit on a house declared a nuisance after numerous reports of gunshots being fired there and, in May, a felon was arrested with a gun after leaving that address.
An administrative hearing officer upheld the city’s nuisance designation of the rental house at 1748 C Ave. NE. The city’s Building Services Department is in the process of notifying Property Holders LTD that its rental unit registration suspension for that property will become effective Aug. 15 for a period of one year, city officials said in a statement. A suspension means that tenants at the house would have to move and Property Holders would not be able to rent it out again during that period.
Landlord Charles Davisson, operating as Property Holders, can appeal to the city’s Housing Board of Appeals. He also can appeal the hearing officer’s decision to a 6th Judicial District associate judge.
Peter Riley, Property Holders’ lawyer, said Thursday the firm is planning to appeal the suspension.
In 2020, Davisson did appeal a suspension at another of his properties, 2307 Bever Ave. SE, and three others deemed nuisances, but lost that appeal and the rental unit registrations on those four rentals were suspended for six months.
In May, The Gazette reported the 1748 C Ave. NE property has had numerous reports by neighbors of gunshots being fired, which has resulted in bullets coming through their homes. Davisson’s property on Bever Avenue had similar problems and that tenant, who works for Davisson, had to move and relocated to the C Avenue address.
According to evidence at a July 11 administrative hearing on the nuisance issue, police had increased patrols in the neighborhood to reduce the gunfire incidents. The house was under surveillance by a team focusing on gun violence when Royal Jones, 19, was arrested May 19.
Jones, who was on probation for a robbery conviction and not allowed to have a firearm as a felon, was one of several individuals who exited the house that day, James Piersall, a lawyer who works under contract as a hearing officer for the city, said in his report.
Officers who responded to the call for service knew some of these individuals had existing arrest warrants. Jones was arrested nearby after he ran from police at 1748 C Ave. NE., Piersall noted.
During the hearing, Michael White, who is a maintenance employee for Property Holders and a tenant at the C Avenue house, testified his son in the past had individuals there when he and his wife were not home, Piersall stated in his report. White gave officers permission to search the home; a gun was found that belonged to his son’s friends.
White, also during the hearing, disputed that Jones and others arrested in May were at his house, Piersall said in the report. However, neither White nor his wife were home and “had no direct knowledge as to who was at the house,” Piersall added.
Piersall said that based on a “preponderance of the evidence,” White’s son has had individuals visiting him when his parents weren’t home, and the officers saw Jones and the others at the house when they arrived. As a result, the city has met its burden to declare the house as nuisance, he concluded.
In June, neighborhood associations and a not-for-profit organization fighting systemic injustices demanded the city revoke Property Holders’ business license after the house on C Avenue was declared a nuisance.
The city, however, didn’t revoke the company’s business license. There are housing laws and due process to be followed, the city said, that allows property owners time to come into compliance.
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